Faces Of Kansas City: Tall Paul Alexander 6-17-2010 - KCTV5

Faces Of Kansas City: Tall Paul Alexander 6-17-2010


Dignitaries, pro athletes, rock stars and even presidents know the subject of this Thursday's repeat of Faces of Kansas City.

Everyone just knows him as Tall Paul and, for nearly four decades, he has served as one of the city's finest ambassadors.

It's clear from being around him, Paul Alexander loves his job. For 37 years, Tall Paul has charmed visitors to Kansas City as a bellman for the Westin Hotel. He has been with the hotel since its opening in 1973.

"I meet people from all over the world," he said.

Tall Paul said he welcomed Clint Eastwood to Kansas City. The list of celebrities includes Bob Hope, Smokey Robinson, Gerald Ford, a presidential candidate named Barack Obama, and Dr. J - Julius Erving.

"All the other guys were carrying their bags, but there was one bag left," he said. "I said, 'Doc, your bag?' He said, 'You can get him.' He gave me a $50 tip. I shouldn't say that, but you know."

Tall Paul also rubbed elbows with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
"He was a nice guy," he said. "Quiet. I was telling him about Kansas City and Gates Barbecue. He went up to Gates, and they loved him."

Over the course of his career, Kansas City has grown to love Tall Paul.

"Everywhere I go, if I'm wearing a Westin name badge, they always say, 'How's Tall Paul?'" said Rita Medina, a Westin concierge. "Where's Tall Paul? Send Tall Paul in. He's definitely a legend here in town."

A long time ago, Tall Paul's plan was to become legendary on the basketball court. After playing two years of hoops for the Navy, he toured the country in 1971 with a farm team of the Harlem Globetrotters - the Harlem Comedy Kings.

"All I can remember is the places I've been," he said. "I'll never get a chance to go there again, but I can always remember those days."

After a tryout with the NBA Paul returned to his hometown, and ever since has been greeting Kansas City's guests who he said fall in love with the city just as he has.

"Well it's the people here. When the guests come from out of town they say 'Kansas City is so friendly,'" he said.

Just how popular is Tall Paul?  When Kay Barnes was mayor she proclaimed a day in October as Tall Paul day. It's still recognized every year.

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