the Casino Legends Hall of Fame induction ceremony the other afternoon at the
Tropicana Hotel. As is the custom now, the event was held inside the Folies
showroom and the host was once again the fantastic Bob Anderson.
who is one of the top impressionists in the business today and a local
resident, did his usual fine job of introducing and talking with each inductee.
Bob opened with a great rendition of "If You Hear From Me." This year there
were some very special people being recognized for their years of entertaining,
not only in Las Vegas but the world.
The first inductee was the fabulous
Freddy Bell, who now works primarily in Europe. The Las Vegas resident received
perhaps the longest and loudest standing ovation of all five honorees as he
stood before the gathered crowd, tears slowly descending down his cheeks. The
70-year-old entertainer, who first arrived at the old Sands Hotel when there
was nothing but dirt roads, broke up the audience when he told them "I was not
to smart with my investments. I invested in crap tables, booze and ex wife's."
next entertainer to be honored was the great Jimmy Durante. On hand to tell a
few stories and sing some of his more famous songs was Jimmy's partner of many
years Sonny King (himself a member of the Hall) and Blackie Hunt of the
Characters. Sonny sang "As Time Goes By" and "Inka, Dinka Do" as only he
could; with great emotion. Receiving the honor was the wonderful child actress and
lifelong friend of Durante, Ms. Margaret O'Brien.
longtime residents of Las Vegas are well aware that at one time during her
lustrous career our Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt actually worked the boards
(showbiz saying for being and entertainer). Ms. Hunt, wife of the
above-mentioned Blackie for 32 years, began her career as a singer when she was
19. She and Blackie own the Italian Restaurant, The Bootlegger, where on any
Friday or Saturday night one can see many members of the "Hall of Fame" in
action. Sonny King is the host accompanied by Blackie. A highlight of the whole
afternoon was when Ms. Hunt began to sing "God Bless America." One by one every
entertainer in the audience and backstage joined her on stage and the audience
stood to join her in singing the unofficial national anthem.
marvelous entertainer, who began pounding the boards and acting in films at age
six, Ms. Rose Marie was next to be honored. Best known for her years on the
popular television series "The Dick Van Dyke Show," told a story of how she was
part of the Jimmy Durante Show that opened the original Flamingo Hotel." The
first two night was packed with invited guests," she explained. "So we thought
we would have it made and that the hotel was going to be a big hit. On the third
night the curtain opened and there was only nine people in the audience. We did
our show, but we knew then the hotel was going to be in trouble."
the funniest inductees, who did at least 15 minutes of comedy, were the
Smothers Brothers. The audience was in stitches as the two men, who first
worked in Las Vegas in 1962, did two of their famous routines. Tom and Dick,
who appear regularly at The Orleans Hotel, are truly living legends.
Tropicana does a magnificent job of honoring those entertainers who made Las
Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World. Now, all they have to remember,
is that men and women of the press and hotel public relations also played a
prominent part in seeing that Las Vegas earned that title, and of course, kept it.
Enough said! I'm outa here!
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