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Books are on Diane Keaton’s shopping list during unexpected visit to La Jolla

Actress Diane Keaton takes a break from browsing at D.G. Wills Books in La Jolla on June 29 to pose with owner Dennis Wills.
(Ted Burke)

Dennis Wills was sitting in a chair pricing items June 29 at his D.G. Wills Books store in La Jolla, so he didn’t notice a woman wearing a man’s hat walk in. She was browsing bookshelves with her back toward him.

“Hey, you have a Barbra Streisand thing going on,” he observed, causing the customer to look up. “Holy cow! You’re Diane Keaton,” Wills exclaimed.

Indeed she was. They struck up a conversation. Wills told the famed actress that he immensely enjoyed the 1981 movie “Reds,” which earned Warren Beatty a best director Oscar and corralled a best actress nomination for Keaton for her portrayal of Louise Bryant.

Wills shared that he had especially enjoyed the film’s cameo interview appearances of real-life socialists from the Russian Revolution era who had known journalist John Reed and Bryant. However, he added that he was disappointed they weren’t identified by name.

Responding that she believed that decision was made by the studio, Keaton nevertheless offered to pass along Wills’ observations to Beatty.

“Diane was thoroughly unpretentious and warm,” Wills said.

He even took her behind his secret bookcase door to show her the back office where New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (a friend of Keaton), former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker gathered before Dowd and Abramson spoke about Dowd’s books. All visiting authors would spend time in the back room before making their appearances.

Keaton picked out $159 worth of photo books and a Jamie Wyeth art book she hadn’t seen before.

Meanwhile, architect Josh Schweitzer — who renovated a house for Keaton that was built in 1928 by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s son) — walked in with others, looking for her.

“Is your anonymous guest still here?” Schweitzer asked jokingly. He bought books on Irving Gill architecture, contemporary British artist Francis Bacon and cartoonist Robert Crumb.

Keaton inquired about actor Gregory Peck’s photo on a wall, which triggered an impromptu tour by Wills of his photos of VIP visitors on the walls of the store at 7461 Girard Ave., which he has occupied since 1991. Among them are Oliver Stone, Norman Mailer, Sean Penn, Gore Vidal, Christopher Hitchens, Francis Crick, Françoise Gilot and many others.

When Wills asked Keaton to pose with him for a picture, she agreed. “She blew me a kiss as they walked away,” he said.

The photo of his unexpected visitor will no doubt be added to those already on display. ◆