Lisa Whelchel, host of the popular MeTV series Collector’s Call, had crossed paths with Olympic skating champion Scott Hamilton on the celebrity circuit several times. She was aware of his standing in the athletic world, previous battles with cancer and his all-star fundraising concerts for the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. But one aspect of Hamilton’s life had eluded her, until recently.
Collector’s Call puts the spotlight on those who love to acquire pop culture memorabilia. Hamilton is quite the avid collector in his own right, and he’s a multi-faceted one at that. Hamilton has kept some notable items from his figure skating career, including his wardrobe from the 1984 Olympics. But his biggest collections involve guitars and vintage pinball machines. He owns a treasure trove of autographed guitars, including ones signed by Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles, as well as classic arcade games, all of which he keeps in his Nashville-area home. Viewers can get an up-close look at his vast storehouse when Whelchel and Collector’s Call visit Hamilton on the episode titled “Meet Scott Hamilton,” Sunday night, February 23rd.
If you hadn’t a clue about Hamilton’s collection appetite, you were hardly alone. “I did not know he was such a collector,” says Whelchel, now into her second season of hosting the show. “I had met Scott before but this was a part of his life I had not heard about. He has done so many things in his life, from being an Olympic skater to raising funds for his foundation. I think there are lots of people who did not know this about Scott and will find this interesting.”
Whelchel notes that people’s collections provide a keen insight into their personalities. Whether the objects are Elvis Presley memorabilia, Batman gear or board games, the collections are generally not random – they mean something to the individual. That’s true with Hamilton’s autographed guitars. “Music for him started with his childhood,” Whelchel explains. “He would listen to a lot of rock music when he was practicing his skating routines or working out. Music was important to him and he especially loved those guitar players.”
Childhood memories do seem to fire up the typical collector’s desire. “I would say that over ninety percent of the collections we see are connected to a relationship or a memory of growing up,” Whelchel says. “It brings us back to a maybe a simpler, more innocent time in our lives. You can look at an old toy that someone has and think, ‘Oh, my little brother used to play with that.’ I think that’s why Collector’s Call is such a perfect landing spot for MeTV, which runs the classic TV shows. And you know that ‘MeTV’ stands for ‘Memorable Entertainment Television.’ We can remember watching those shows when we were growing up and how much we enjoyed them. It feels like a peaceful haven in our lives,” adds Whelchel, in an appropriately wistful tone.
Whelchel admits that she’s not in the collecting game herself. But part of her wishes otherwise. “I kind of regret not collecting things,” she says with a slight laugh. “I had the opportunities, though. My aunt owned an antique shop and she would travel with me all over the world. She would always pick up something for her store on our stops and she ended up with tons of collectibles. I just didn’t think to do that.”
For many fans, Whelchel holds a nostalgic connection of her own. Viewers of a certain age remember her as one of the stars of the family sitcom The Facts of Life, playing the ultra-preppy Blair Warner. In her post-Facts of Life years, she’s written several books on motherhood (she has three children) and child discipline, and has been an inspirational speaker at churches and religious conferences. These days, Whelchel splits time between Nashville and Los Angeles while serving as a life coach.
She enjoys being back on the small screen with Collector’s Call, where she meets a variety of fascinating people and their equally impressive pop culture objects. Fans will especially be intrigued by Scott Hamilton and his array of items, Whelchel feels. “Our team is always on the lookout for people with great collections,” she says. “When they heard about Scott’s, it just fit right in. It’s going to be exciting for people to see.”
The Collector’s Call episode featuring Scott Hamilton airs on MeTV Sunday night, February 23rd, at 8:30 p.m. CT.