Knievel’s passing marks end of era

Dec 3, 2007 5:50 AM

I was pained to hear of the passing of my good friend, Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, on Friday. Evel was a daredevil who became an icon of a generation beginning in the 1960s.

My connection with Evel goes back to 1967 when Caesars Palace was looking for great promotions for the hotel and casino. After brainstorming, it was decided Evel Knievel would jump the fountains in front of Caesars. No doubt that would create some excitement.

I had just made my television debut on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, when Caesars hired me to headline with The Checkmates and Woody Woodbury at Nero’s Nook. History was to be made. We all know Evel Knievel didn’t quite make the fountain jump and yours truly was fired. Of course, I wasn’t in a coma for 29 days like Evel was.

Yet, many times afterward I ran into Evel at a club in Hollywood called Filthy McNasty’s. Evel was in the audience and I was on stage doing a very strange Ed Sullivan on steroids type variety show. After the shows, Evel and I would reminisce about our Las Vegas meeting.

I will always miss this incredible man and may he rest in peace. Another chapter’s closed in a little history of Las Vegas. 

Viewers finally saw the season finale of Dancing with the Stars ”¦ and the winner is Helio, who performed with his partner Julianne Hough, one of the professional dancers on the show. 

This little blonde doll is from Las Vegas and is a terrific ambassador for our fabulous city. Must confess, I am a fan of this show and this season I fell in love with Mel B. from the Spice Girls. To me she was the winner. You have to be impressed by the commitment of everyone on the show. This show has re-energized the career (and I’m not talking dolls) of Marie Osmond. She’s as well known now as she was in the 70’s. 

Oh, my gosh! Marie and I have something in common! Not sure if Marie’s new found popularity had anything to do with her appearance, along with brother Donny, at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre next July, but I understand the tickets are already on sale. She also has a Christmas show at the Suncoast later this month.

It’s a fact, our sources say, the Jackson Five will be getting back together and Janet will be on board for some of their appearances. There hasn’t been much news out of the Jackson camp for sometime. This could be big.

  The stagehand strike has been settled and the shows on Broadway opened Thursday night. The strike was hard on the New York City economy with losses in the millions of dollars. Looks like the screenwriters (SAG) strike might be settled soon and they would be receiving compensation for shows shown on the internet. If that doesn’t happen, get ready for more realty shows on television. That would be enough to make some of us yearn for a good ole’ sitcom. 

  The brilliant Patty Lupone sold out at the Suncoast and my Cuchi, Cuchi girl, Charo was another sell out at the Rampart. Some people forget Charo is truly multi-talented. She’s an entertainer’s entertainer. Charo shared her true love with the audience, to play her Flamenco guitar. Some in the audience were surprised to learn that Charo studied many years under the master, Andre Segovia. Ask anyone in the audience and you’ll hear about Charo’s great sense of humor, too. She’s on her way to Europe and then a concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC and we hope she returns to Las Vegas soon. We need you, Charo!

The Latin Scene is salsa hot and sizzling. The South Point has booked the Michito band (their Thursday night hit) for New Year’s Eve party in the Showroom. New Year’s Eve also brings Debbie Reynolds to The Grand Ballroom at The South Point and Tony Orlando to the Cannery. The "locals" hotels know that yesterday’s stars can really entertain audiences, as well as fill the showrooms.

  The O. J. Simpson circus was back in town for another day but now it’s on to trial. Fortunately for Las Vegas the trial won’t start until sometime in April 2008. Good luck in finding a jury for this one.

  Downtown, the Golden Nugget, the crown of downtown, is hosting the one and only Rich Little. Rich has been around a long time but he truly is a master at what he does. The Canyon (Where Music meets the Soul) on Fremont St bringing in the likes of Del Castillo. M.A.D.a.M, and Cheap Trick, among others to the downtown music scene.

  It’s a one-nighter, so mark your calendar: Lord of the Dance will be at the Orleans Arena on December 6th.

  Book review! Yes, I can read. It’s the Turner Travel Guide to Sin City. I hate that name Sin City but the book is a good read. Check it out! Weird Las Vegas and Nevada by Joe Oesterle and Tim Cridland has stories about the unusual people and amazing sights here in your own backyard —interesting and entertaining reading..

Celine Dion has made another week of round robin appearances on television. Turn on the television and there she is! She is one smart cookie! We all know she’s getting ready to say farewell to her show at Caesars Colloseum after selling out 4,000 seats every night for the last five years and her television appearances are setting a course for her newest venture, whatever it may be. Once again, if you haven’t seen her show catch it while you can, the ticket prices just keep going up and up and up.