Last week the royal Disney crown of Belle from “Beauty and The Beast” was placed upon Paige O’Hara’s successor, Emma Watson, at the Hollywood premiere of the newest version of the animated film – now, a live action fantasy that has been beautifully updated and slightly reworked.
Paige was the recipient of the Oscar for film released in 1991, as the voice and rendering of Belle. The casting department at Disney wanted a Broadway singer and star to be the voice and emotion behind Belle. Paige’s history includes, Les Miserables, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Showboat (the revival) all on the great white way of Broadway. She came out in 1996 to star in the Radio City Spectacular at the Flamingo.
After that, she did some worldwide touring and eventually starred as the Soap Opera Queen in a nine year run of Menopause here in Las Vegas. Menopause lives on here, sans Paige, who is a multi-talented woman. She has become an official artist of the renderings of the various Disney characters, most notably Belle. Her artwork can be purchased at Town Square at Magical Memories and soon at the same store to be located at Caesars Palace!
Paige has always been an artist of the palette, as well as stage and music. I cannot say enough about this one of a kind woman who has graced my life, the lives of countless people, and audiences who have seen her in her timeless fashion. She came to Vegas in 1996 and became a permanent resident of the valley.
Angel gets a scare
My friend Criss Angel had a medical episode about a week and a half ago in the middle of one of his most famous and fabulous tricks. He was doing his hanging-upside-down, straight jacket routine when he passed out. He hung there, unconscious and the audience was astounded.
They cancelled the rest of the show and he was rushed to Spring Valley Hospital for further testing. It wound up as a case of dehydration and lack of food in his system. They say many magicians occasionally have this problem called head rush.
Angel was supposed to be at a Make-a-Wish Foundation event at Town Square where he was supposed to donate $100,000, so he sent an assistant to give them the donation. In his own words, he said on a recent news report, “Taking risks is part of the act.”
At the Smith Center, we had Marilyn Maye, an American cabaret singer and musical theatre actress, appearing at The Cabaret Jazz Theater. I love that venue.
She began her career as a young child performing in Kansas in concerts and on the radio. Steve Allen first put her on the air. She was the most frequently heard singer in the history of The Tonight Show. During her appearance, she brought on stage her favorite comedian Shecky Greene, who didn’t want to give up the mic! She is a great sport, still in great voice and looking absolutely fabulous at 88 (she turns 89 April 10).
I think we should bring back Shecky. We miss him and he’s always so funny. Also, Marty Allen is celebrating his 95th birthday with a show at the South Point on March 23. This man still works and is still funny.
In sad news… remember the song, “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge? They started in 1971 in Philadelphia and struggled for years until in 1979 when they recorded “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and had their first hit.
A month later “We Are Family” became a dancing anthem for female empowerment and unity. Joni Sledge just passed away at home in Phoenix at age 60. She was not ill and no cause of death is known yet.
I’ve been trying to get to see Tape Face, who was one of the finalists on the TV show America’s Got Talent. He has a residency at the Flamingo and it seems everyone’s enjoying him.
At Planet Hollywood, believe it or not, the Backstreet Boys are still going strong and selling out at the Axis Theater.
Talking about legends in Las Vegas, I spoke to the great Morgana King, an American jazz singer and actress, twice this week. She played Marlon Brando’s wife Carmela Corleone in The Godfather I and II. She is also known for her great album “A Taste of Honey.”
At 86, she has been a close friend of mine for many years. She once came to see me at the beginning of my show at Trudy Heller’s in the village in NYC and said, “You have a good voice, but you sound like Chet Baker with a vibrator.” I never forgot that.
Bragging on Brass
The performance of Brass Transit at the Suncoast showroom was phenomenal! The musicians and lead singer (a Broadway original) were just amazing. The audience boomed with Baby Boomers who had come to see this fabulous performance!
At the cinema, there is a film you should not miss – “The Ottoman Lieutenant” – set in the days before and during the beginning of The Great War, World War I. It was cinematography tour de force! The role of the lieutenant was beautifully and passionately played. The scenery was total immersion into a period piece. This film shows history is a cycle that repeats itself.
Have a great week!