Stan Lee and former President George W. Bush are "bosom buddies." At least that's the story Lee likes to tell.
At Wizard World Nashville this past weekend, Lee told the audience at his spotlight panel the story behind the famous photograph of him laughing with the former president when Lee received a National Medal of the Arts in 2008.
The medal is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. In the photo from his ceremony, Lee is seen cracking up with the president and, as Lee explains, despite the serious nature of the occasion he couldn't help but crack a joke after seeing fellow recipient actress Olivia de Havilland get a kiss on the cheek with her award.
"I'll tell you about President Bush," Lee said. "I was to receive some little award that he gave out every year and he gives it to a few people for whatever they've done for the arts. So, I was waiting to get my award and in front of me was Olivia de Havilland. She's the one who was usually the costar with Errol Flynn in all of his movies. She was always the girl. So, he gave her this little thing that she wore around the neck he gave it to her first and he gave her a little kiss son the cheek. Now it was my turn so he gave me the thing and you're supposed to say something. All I could think of saying was 'I hope you're not going to kiss me on the cheek.'"
The wisecracking comment made both men laugh and a photographer at the event happened to catch the moment.
"And he started laughing and I started laughing and a photographer took a picture of President Bush and me laughing like crazy so whenever I show that picture to anybody, it's 'oh yeah, we're bosom buddies, we always kid around and we're laughing,'" Lee said.
But Lee doesn't just save his jokes for White House ceremonies and presidents. The legendary comic creator told guests that he's just joking about being friends with the former president.
"I'm a big phony, in case I didn't tell you that," Lee said.