It's The Norm
November 1-7, 2001 ARCHIVES
"It's The Norm" - Recent Entertainment Events in Las Vegas

Casino Legends Hall of Fame

by Norm Johnson
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Attended 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.

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."

The 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.

Many 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.

Another 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."

Perhaps 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.

The 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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