Best Local Celebrity - 2007
It seems that actors spend a lifetime trying to become famous only to resent fame the moment they achieve it. Not Eddie Barbanell. The Coral Springs resident became a celebrity after he starred alongside Johnny Knoxville in The Ringer, and he hasn't stopped enjoying it since. Knoxville plays a reprobate who pretends to have a disability so he can compete in a Special Olympics decathlon his uncle is wagering on. Barbanell, who in real life has Down syndrome, plays Knoxville's roommate and steals every scene he has, racking up quotable catch phrases at a rate Will Ferrell would admire. "Oh Mylanta! You are my woman," gasps Barbanell's character at the hair-netted lunch lady he adores. At actual Special Olympics events in South Florida, Barbanell is a hero to fellow athletes and instantly recognizable to the mostly adolescent volunteers who have seen the movie. Barbanell signs autographs and poses for pictures, plus he never turns down a request to deliver one of his famous lines from the film, like, "You scratched my CD, you know!" He's not one of those movie stars who feigns modesty. Barbanell, in fact, has a habit of declaring to a group of strangers, "I'm a celebrity!" Just don't ask Barbanell for the cell phone numbers of Knoxville and fellow co-star Katherine Heigl (of Grey's Anatomy fame). They're friends, and friends don't give your digits away to complete strangers.