ERNIE BANKS, Baseball Hall of Famer: This retired Chicago Cub met Buffett at a golf tourney in Omaha. From 1998 to 2001, he stepped into the batter’s box each year when Buffett, wearing a uniform with “The Whip” emblazoned on the back, threw out the first pitch at an Omaha Royals game — a meeting tradition.
SUSAN LUCCI, soap-opera star: Each annual meeting starts with a short film poking fun at Berkshire’s CEO and his cantankerous sidekick, Charlie Munger. Lucci starred last year, and then showed up to try to take Buffett’s job. Others who have made cameos include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, and the women of Desperate Housewives.
BILL GATES, chairman of Microsoft: The two megarich men are pals and occasional bridge partners. Gates, a Berkshire Hathaway director since 2004, bought wife Melinda’s engagement ring at Borsheim’s (a Berkshire subsidiary). He and Buffett have also cut loose postmeeting by playing Ping-Pong.
BOB IGER, CEO of Disney: Berkshire Hathaway used to be one of the biggest investors in Disney, though it now owns zero shares. Still, Buffett’s a big fan of Iger, calling him a “first-class CEO.”
SUSAN DECKER, outgoing Yahoo president: The 12-member Berkshire board has four octogenarians. So thank God for 45-year-old Decker, not just for her business brains (she is also on the boards of Intel and Costco) but also demographic balance: She is the youngest board member and one of two women.
JIMMY BUFFETT, musician: These distant cousins first shared a stage in Omaha when Jimmy opened a Cheeseburger in Paradise outpost. (Warren played the ukulele.) Jimmy kick-started the 2007 annual meeting with the familiar-sounding ditty “Wastin’ Away Again in Berkshire Hathawayville.”