Plus: Cork Proctor, Vocal Soup, and more...
Every Father’s Day, this year it’s Sunday, June 20, Nelson Sardelli, he of the talented Sardelli clan, gathers a group of his friends and heads for the Boulder City Veterans Home, where they set up their equipment and entertain the veterans. This year is no exception. Sardelli has roped in some 25 volunteers, who will sing, play a musical instrument or just be there to joke with the vets. The latest list of volunteers are: Vince Falcone, The Gary Olds Trio, Michaelina, Linda November, Artie Schroeck, Babe Pier, Jerry Lopez, Genevieve, Cork Proctor (who will be at the Comedy Stop at the Sahara Hotel beginning Monday, June 7), Allen Tramont, Charly Raymond, Paul Campanella, Peter Anthony, Dr. George Ritter, Nathan Brian Wine, Ronnie Rose, Charlie Schaffer, Joni Illi, Nik Mastrangelo, Dr. Wilfred Krom, Thom Nelli, Tom Marth, Diane Ellis, Lou Toomin and your host, Nelson Sardelli.
The party gets underway at 10:00 a.m. and is scheduled to end around 2:00 p.m., but usually runs over.
Cork Proctor, one of the funniest stand up comedians from the fabulous era of the ‘60s to the early ‘80s, returns to Bob Kephart’s Comedy Stop at the Sahara Hotel, Monday, June 7. He will be hosting the production which features Greg Vaccarello and Greg Morton through Sunday, June 13.
I first ran into Proctor back in the late ‘60s, when he was practically the talk of Las Vegas. Cork was opening for a lot of the big stars who appeared on the Strip (far too many to name in this column). Whenever there was a “Roast,” Proctor was sure to be the first to answer the call. He was soon recognized and dubbed with the honor of being named “Roast master General of the United States,” by former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neal.
My next run-in with Proctor was in 1977, when he was hired as the opening act, for a then fairly unknown Elvis impersonator, Johnny Harra. Harra was performing in the lounge, downtown, at the Mint Hotel, when Elvis Presley died. There was a mad scramble, by a lot of entertainment buyers to find the perfect Elvis, and to exploit the Elvis mystic that was sure to follow. We, Stephanie Lopes (she was the entertainment buyer for the Silverbird Hotel) and myself (I was the Public Relations Director), had been previously pitched on the young impersonator, and was not interested at the time. But, when the news of Elvis’ death broke, we immediately signed Harra to a contract to appear at the Silverbird.
Everything was running pretty smooth. We were getting SRO attendance twice every night (in those days performers did two shows a night, six nights a week). We would change opening acts every now and then, and, this one particular night, Proctor was the new opening act for the show. Well, sitting in the audience was not only Lopes and this writer, but the owner of the hotel, Major Riddle, and the general manager, Gene Lucas. Proctor had been gaining a reputation as a rough comedian, and would often go off on a tangent and bad mouth a hotel, etc. On this night, Cork Proctor went too far over the edge, and I was instructed to fire him immediately. Carme, a friend of the hotel stepped in and performed the second show. Cork was gone and Carme stayed on until Harra was fired, which is another story.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Geeze, it’s hard to believe that June is already here. Wow, how time does fly when you’re having fun. Vocal Soup, one of my favorite new groups, has moved from the smaller Suncoast Hotel/Casino showroom, to the much larger showroom at The Orleans for their June 12-13 engagement.
Following multiple sold out performances in 2009 (when the group was first formed), long-time friends and performers Clint Holmes, Susan Anton, Domenick Allen and Martin Nievera, will be back together and singing their songs over the weekend. Holmes came up with the idea of creating the old Las Vegas tradition of entertainers coming together to have fun in an “anything can happen” atmosphere.
I remember when the great vaudeville star, Hank Henry, was working at the old Hacienda Hotel (where the Mandalay Bay Hotel now stands) and then at the Silver Slipper (it was next door to the Frontier Hotel/Casino). Every star on the Strip would stop by at least once during their stay in town, to see the master at work, and to have a few laughs. When they were in town performing at the Sands, Frank Sinatra and the guys in the Rat Pack were almost always in the Slipper after their show. And the fun would last until the sun came up, and then Dean Martin would yell out, “Golf Time,” and away they would go. Gosh, those were the fun days.
Back to Vocal Soup and what the performers will be doing. The show will feature a variety of musical genres, including rock ‘n roll, hits from Foreigner (Allen was a member of the famous group), popular songs and standards, Broadway classics and originals, including their theme song, “Vocal Soup.” Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are available from $29.95 plus tax and fees. For reservations call (702) 365-7075.
Here is a follow up note on the letter I got from Susan Schooley, a lady in Cutler Bay, FL., who was quite upset with the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. She and a group were the original investors who put up the $15,000 for their favorite Las Vegas entertainer, Bobby Darin, to have a star. During a recent visit, Susan and some of her friends visited the star, and to their horror found it in poor shape. She wrote me after reading one of my columns, asking who is responsible for the upkeep of the stars. I forwarded the note to Tony Sacca, who also has a star and is a member of the committee.
I have been informed that the committee will be replacing, not only Darin’s star, but about five others that were in bad shape. It was explained that the person who was responsible for installing the stars, had not allowed the cement to cure properly. He has since been replaced.
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week. I’m outa here!