Writes of Passage

Charlotte Leibel knows all about the handwriting on the wall, and she uses it to unlock the secrets of personality

The real expert, of course, remains Charlotte Leibel, who Starkman successfully has placed on Hard Copy, Channel 7, and in the ultimate promotional coup, The Tonight Show. He contacted a producer on the show, hyped Leibel's Hard Copy appearance as if everyone knew about it, and managed to convince The Tonight Show people that, based on tapes of her broadcast appearances, she'd be a hit on their program.

The days prior to her appearance seemed like a good omen. On the flight out to Los Angeles to do the show, she analyzed the pilot's and the crew's handwriting, impressing the pilot enough that he sat down to chat with her for a while after the flight was over. Leibel believes, "If I could examine pilots' handwriting, I could find those pilots that are confused and prone to accidents." And the day before Leibel taped her Tonight Show segment, the ever-hustling Starkman talked his way into the Los Angeles District Attorney's office and managed to present a copy of the book -- and a spiel about Leibel and her TV appearance -- to Marcia Clark's assistant. He says he actually was treated courteously.

On the big day, Leibel came out last, after Tom Arnold and a comedian. Leno held up her book for millions to see and said, "From Miami Beach, Florida, of course, please welcome 95-year-old Charlotte Leibel." He then helped her walk to her chair, a little lady in a colorful red jacket. She got the audience on her side from the outset, telling how she analyzed the handwriting of the pilot and crew on the flight out, to which Leno joked, "A little late to find that out, isn't it?"

"That's true," she answered, "but it's good to know you have capable men running planes. I haven't seen but one, but it was very encouraging." The audience howled with laughter.

She patiently explained to Leno, as she's done for years, that handwriting analysis is a science and is used widely in Europe. "Is that right? Really?" Leno replied, treating her respectfully.

He soon turned his attention to the evaluations she'd done on different celebrities, including himself. "I was very impressed with you," she said, and the audience burst

into raucous applause. Leno posed in mock vanity as she continued, "You're distinctly above average in intelligence, ability, and personality."

"A lovely woman," he said with the faint air of a boulevardier.
"If I was very much younger, I'd make a beeline for you," Leibel told him with a newfound comic flair. It brought down the house.

Leibel smiled broadly and, after the whistles and applause died down, Leno remarked, "Now you know how she got on the show -- but don't tell my wife."

She then reviewed the anonymous celebrity handwriting samples that had been given to her earlier. The first was Tom Arnold's, and Leibel looked over at him and asked, "Is that him?" After the crowd stopped laughing, she began the matter-of-fact evaluation, just like those countless kitchen-table sessions back home. "What I see here is that you like to be involved in big deals," she said. "I got a divorce, actually," Arnold offered, "and at one time I was fairly involved in a big deal." The audience laughed, but Leibel, no follower of celebrity trends, seemed unaware of his famous breakup with Roseanne. Leibel continued, "You need recognition... attention... and admiration," with which Arnold agreed. A bit later she looked at the sample for Arnold Schwarzenegger (with his name emblazoned on the back of the card), but she talked about him as if she was unaware of his identity. "He's a very ambitious and optimistic person, and wants big things, too. There's probably some dramatic ability, too."

Before ending with another plug for Leibel's book, Leno mentioned that she analyzed O.J.'s handwriting in it, but he avoided discussing the specifics of her findings: "I don't want to be prejudicial." As he held up the book one last time, he said, "It's fascinating, it really is fascinating." The segment closed to loud applause. When she left the stage, the producer who booked her gave her a big hug.

A day later Leibel was back in her South Beach public housing project efficiency, ready to analyze some more handwriting. "It was unbelievable to get all that notice," she said, and, as always, she's looking to the future: "I hope it boosts sales -- and I think I'll go on other shows.

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