R.I.P.: PELE, R.I.P.



Perhaps lost in the holiday shuffle was the sad news that Brazilian soccer legend Pele had passed away two days before New Year’s Eve.

The great Pele.

The great Pele.

His health had been declining recently, so his demise wasn’t a shock, but still heartbreaking for many.

For the few of you who aren’t familiar with Pele, he’s the original guy who got the world interested in soccer, beginning as a teen-ager in the ’50s, way before David Beckham did. Gaining fame at the young age of seventeen, Pele quickly became an international hero.

With his worldwide status due to his incredible athletic prowess, the tributes to Pele have come pouring in from all corners of the globe, with many heavy hitters offering their condolences.

I’m adding my own tiny tribute to the man, with a small personal tale of meeting him. It happened just about a dozen years ago, at a classy hotel in Beverly Hills. And he could not have been lovelier to me.

The occasion was a fun fete to celebrate the launch of a Brazilian shapewear company, so, of course, having their national hero Pele there was wonderful for everyone concerned. I’ve always been grateful for my own inclusion in the event.

Pele being celebrated in his soccer-playing days.

Pele being celebrated in his soccer-playing days.

The main body of guests, (of which I was one,) were in an easygoing, informal situation all night. We were treated to a beautiful light buffet, and we sat wherever we liked, at either small tables in the room with the buffet or out on the terrace, to dine. Off to the side was one closed reception room where the bigwigs were enjoying a sit-down dinner at banquet tables; that’s where Pele and company were dining.

After a while, a few of us were invited in there to look around, and I almost fainted when I saw Pele at the first table, right in front of my eyes!

Each guest who walked in before excitedly asked Pele to take a picture with them, and, of course, he obliged, turning around in his seat to do so.

But when I asked, and offered to also lean down to him, he leapt to his feet to accommodate me! And then he sweetly grabbed me tight around the waist. When the photo was shot, (by whom I have no recollection—I was concentrated on Pele,) he put my hands together and…kissed them!!! I still can’t believe that Pele kissed my hands! I wish the person with the camera had kept shooting to capture that wonderful memory!

Pele and Karen Salkin.

Pele and Karen Salkin.

I’m still in awe of that experience with Pele. I was the only person he stood up to take a picture with that night! (And he helped me prove, at least to myself, that Brazilian men prefer not-so-skinny girls!)

To this day, I can still not believe that I had that wonderful experience with Pele. It was a tiny moment in his gigantic life, but such a special one in mine.

My heart goes out to his children along with the rest of his family, friends, and fans around the world.

R.I. P., Pele. You deserve it.



  1. Fun tribute. And you made me laugh about Brazilian men liking hefty women. But you are definitely not one! I saw you on your show all the time and you were far from it. And none of the pictures I’ver seen on here look bad, either. But it’s a funny bit.

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