The following is from a series of posts from the Lee Van Cleef Web Board posted by Mario in 2010.
I had the very fine experience of meeting Lee once when I was young, I was sitting in a mall in Oxnard California called the Esplanade. I was about 14 at the time. I was enjoying a box of carmel popcorn when this gentalman asked if he could sit. I said sure. He then asked if it would be ok if he smoked his pipe. That's when I got a really good look at him and said "you look like Angel Eyes from the cowboy movies" He replied "I had better,My name is Lee Van Cleef. I am Angel Eyes" I introduced myself to him and we started to chat about Alot of things. I asked him what was he doing at the mall ,He said he liked to buy his tobacco good at the Tinder Box smoke shop that was next to the see's candy store. I sat there in amazement and listened to every word he said. We even laughed at something I had said. I can remember he had a very good sense of humor. He was very easy going and could make you smile with his laugh. Well after about 45 min my family came out of the Sears store and it was time to go. I shook his hand and said goodbye.My family asked who that was I was talking to ,I told them and they didnt know who he was,But then they also didnt watch any westerns either.
It was around late 75 or 76 I think, He was dressed in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows and one of those funky matching hats that Tom Landry used to wear. He looked more like a school teacher than a cowboy gunslinger. But it was that face that a LVC fan could recognise anywhere. It's funny I remember why we both started to laugh. Prior to sitting on the bench I had just purchesed a inner tube for my bike at sears and when he asked why I was there I showed him my old inner tube that I had rolled up in my jacket pocket, The new one was in the bag. Well when I pulled out the old inner tube he laughed when he saw ther must have been 35+ patches on it. As he laughed I said Yeah I know it looks like something from the beverly hillbillies Huh which made him and I laugh harder till my eyes got all watery. As he laughed he said why did you wait so long to get a new one,I replied thats what my dad said and he laughed even more. We had a pretty good time for those few minutes. I shared some of my carmel corn with him. At first he said no thanks ,Then I said Aww go on ,you know you want some it's good stuff!. And that was it. The only star I ever had a conversation with and I'll never forget it. He was very cool.
I'll always remember that afternoon how we laughed so hard together
While I do not have any contact info for Mario, a special thanks goes out to him for sharing his recollections to the LVC community!