Frankie Laine deserved a better exit. Perry Como quietly retired while on top. So did Johnny
Carson. Frank Sinatra was permitted to stay on stage a decade too long and Frankie Laine should
not have been permitted to open last week at the Suncoast Resort in Las Vegas.
Don't blame the legendary singer. Blame the handlers.
A shadow of his former self, he couldn't sing, admitted his memory wasn't good and finally
offered the customers their money back.
I've known Frankie for thirty-five years. He's 88 and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in
1986. He had a second by pass operation in 1990. The curtain coming down should have been
elegant - not customers clamoring for their money back
Being gracious on and off stage was always important to Laine. To be permitted to take
center stage when he was obviously ill was tragic. It's just a fact of life that many events can cause
a person's ability to function to become impaired. Just because there is a performance contract
doesn't mean there isn't an escape clause. Sinatra used to walk out of a show for no
Laine had some good ones.
The video of Frankie Laine performing live at the
Suncoast a year ago may turn into a collector's item
He's never recovered from a bout of pneumonia that first grabbed him more than a year ago.
Being 88 years ago ups the odds that anything can happen. That doesn't mean you have to follow
somebody around to see if they are still breathing. But, it does mean that changes should be
noticed. Pneumonia takes its toll on anybody who gets it. That places the onus upon the people in
charge not to permit the public humiliation that repeatedly took place this past week to occur.
Laine shouldn't have been allowed to even open.
He never made it through the first show - there was an overture that lasted almost a half hour.
Then Laine appeared. The audience was visibly horrified to see how gaunt he looked. After a
couple of coughs and an inability to sing - Laine announced that the people would get their money
Why was this man then permitted to return to the stage the next night?
A parent isn't going to permit a five year with a fever of 103 to attend their best friend's birthday
party just because the whiny kid wants to go. When it comes to entertainment,
the responsibly of the percent people - those who financially profit from a star being up there -
should be held responsible when the star with a class act image suddenly turns into side
show material. Warnings that Laine wasn't capable of performing were ignored.
As recently as 1996 Laine gave a performance to remember when on June 12 he made his first
New York appearance in more than 20 years, singing Cry of the Wild Goose at the 27th
annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards ceremony at the New York Sheraton Hotel. Laine
received a Lifetime Achievement Award. "Surprised ya, huh?" he said to the applauding audience,
then added "Surprised myself."
He moved on to That's My Desire, the haunting We'll Be Together
Again - which he co-wrote - and the dramatic Jezebel, and several times brought the
audience to its feet.
Back in the late 60s early 70s, when Frankie played Las Vegas for weeks at a time, he'd come
over for dinner several times a week. The barrel chested performer was always worried about his
weight. I'd try out new recipes on him.Then he'd take the leftovers back to his hotel room. I used
to accuse him of being too cheap to buy his own food. He'd laugh and say he just liked my
He and his late wife, Nan, had a pact that they'd never be away from each other longer than two
weeks at a time. I'd say to Nan - Your husband is eating me out of house and home.
"That's fine", she'd laugh. "I know where he is and I know you're not feeding him junk food. I have
the worst time with him at home. He wants to lie on his stomach in bed and eat right before he
goes to sleep. That's not good for you and I tell him not to eat before he goes to sleep. Then I
hear him snoring and I know I've been talking to myself."
If Nan thought sometimes she was talking to herself, Frankie was affable when it came to talking
to the press.
He once told me that his most embarrassing moment was when he was doing a Today Show
interview and while walking to the studio a gusting New York wind blew off his toupee. An aide
rushed into the street to pick it up. Quickly Laine raced into the nearest alley and - without benefit
of a mirror- used some surgical adhesive that he always carried to reapply the toupee -- only he
didn't get it slapped back in the right location. "Because of my having to stop and put the toupee
on again, I was almost late for the interview. I raced on and I didn't realize until afterwards that
there was this red line on my forehead where the toupee had been. A line of skin had been ripped
away when the toupee blew off. The really nice guy interviewing me kept staring at my forehead
and I couldn't figure out why."
If he considered you a friend he'd show you the toupee collection, but you first had to promise not
to touch anything.
"I have everything laid out just so. - one inch apart." There would be tweezers, scissors, glue,
glue remover, and assorted grooming needs - all meticulously arranged. The first thought that
came to mind was that Laine would have made a great surgeon or operating room
His father had wanted him to be a pharmacist.
Born in the Italian section of Chicago on March 30, to Anna and John LoVecchio, who were both
from the village of Monreale in Sicily.
Laine first sang in the choir of Chicago's Immaculate Conception Church. He sang professionally
for the first time when he was 15 and a student at Chicago's Lane Technical High School. While
making his way into show business he worked at such assorted jobs as office boy, bookkeeping,
singing waiter, shipping clerk, auto salesman, machinist and songwriter, and dance
At the age of 17, Frank Paul LoVecchio left home to try his luck as a marathon dancer. This fad
of the depression years was a tough way of keeping body and soul together, but Laine stuck with
it and eventually he and a partner, Ruth Smith, met the all-time marathon dance record in Atlantic
City, New Jersey. They danced for a total of 3,501 hours over 145 consecutive days, and split a
grand prize of $1,000 for their efforts
A good seventeen years went by before Frankie was discovered by famed songwriter Hoagy
Carmichael at Billy Berg's, Jazz Spa on Hollywood's Vine Street, which as a hangout for
musicians. In a matter of weeks Frankie recorded his first hit, That's My Desire, and was
on his way with a mighty assist from Los Angeles disc jockey Al Jarvis.
ELVIS PRESLEY at the NEW FRONTIER in Las
Vegas was a disaster. FRANKIE LAINE told him one day he'd make it in Vegas.
In 1937 Frankie was introduced to Perry Como; Como was impressed by Laine's style and, when
he left the Freddie Carlone's Band to join Ted Weems, Como recommended Frankie as his
replacement (See. Broadway To Vegas column of August 24, 1998)
Laine was one of the first pre-Elvis Presley singers to fully grasp the relevance of black blues and
It was Laine that encouraged Presley not to let a bad Vegas gig depress him. "I sat next to Elvis -
for maybe fifteen minutes - I remember he was performing right across the street from me, and
it was the first time he ever played there. Everybody said he bombed and he was upset - really
depressed about that. I went over to him and sat down and I told him the day would come when
he'd be well received in Las Vegas. He didn't think he'd ever make it in Vegas. He said - not like
you. I'll never be as big in Vegas you are. I told him he had animal magnetism on stage. I knew I
never had that and I told him so. I was always too conservative. I was never ostentatious or
flamboyant. And I never had my clothes taken off by screaming fans. He laughed at that. I told
him the day would come when he'd do just fine in Vegas."
FRANKIE LAINE was the first entertainer to be
photographed on a Las Vegas stage. The photograph was used to promote Las Vegas around the
Laine also did just fine in Vegas. He was used to promote the town. In 1949 Laine was starring at
the El Rancho Vegas, appearing in the hotel's Opera House Theatre Restaurant. Laine had the
distinction of being the first entertainer to be photographed on stage by the city's publicity agency
which was then called the Desert Sea News Bureau - later changed to the Las Vegas News
Bureau. The photograph, taken by Joe Buck, was shipped to New York for distribution around
the world. At that time Vegas had only 20,000 residents and the photograph of Laine on stage
was credited as having launched one of the town's most successful and enduring public relations
Laine was involved with a lot of "firsts." With a 1953 Warner Brother's production, Blowing
Wild, Laine started something different: he became the first and most successful of the singers
to be identified with title songs.
He's performed the title songs for seven motion pictures, most
recently in 1974, Mel Brooks Western farce, Blazing Saddles. On television, Laine's
featured recording of Rawhide has become one of the most popular theme songs of all
FRANKIE LAINE being presented to Queen Elizabeth
II and Princess Margaret
In 1953 his stirring rendition of I Believe topped the British charts and stayed at
number one for eighteen weeks, an unbeaten performance that even The Beatles never matched.
Along the way he amassed 21 gold records.
His impeccable musicianship and taste kept him an international favorite for
over four decades.
Frankie Laine became a musical tradition.
He deserved better than what was permitted to
happened to him last week in Las Vegas.
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THE ESPY AWARDS and GREG MADDUX
have joined forces to benefit Las Vegas charities through a golf tournament
tied intro next years ESPY Awards, which take place February 12 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
EPSY Awards honor athletic accomplishments and are hyped as the Academy Awards for the
sports world. They have been involved in charity work since their inception in 1963.
hopes to raise a high six figure amount in the golf outing, which will attract celebrities
sports, music, television and movies.
The proceeds will go to the Southern Nevada chapter of
the Candlelighters, whose children are battling cancer and Safe Nest, which helps victims of
A HOLIDAY CABARET/OPERATION SANTA CLAUS a charity started by Postal Service Workers will feature Daisy Eagan, Judy
Kaye, Paige Price, Kim Cea, Spider Saloff, James Beaman, Mario Cantone, Sal Viviano and
more performing. Presented by Jamie deRoy & friends, the festivities will be held at
the West Bank Cafe's Laurie Beechman Theater on December 4. There is a $25 cover and a
BERNADETTE PETERS, DIANA ROSS, B.B. KING, and the
late TITO PUENTE will be honored by NARAS, the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Their just due takes place December 5.
PLACIDO DOMINGO will sing
with the six winners of Operalia 2000 on December 15 at UCLA'S Royce Hall. All six winners - Isabel
Bayrakdarlan of Canada, Virginia Tola of Argentina, He Hul of China, Danill Shtoda of Russia,
Konstyantyn Andreyev of the Ukraine, and Robert Pomakov of Canada - will sing with
RANDY NEWMAN the
singer/songwriter will receive the Century Award at the Billboard Music Awards on December 5 in
Las Vegas. In addition to his singles Short People and I Love LA he has scored
several films including Ragtime, The Natural, Avalon and Toy Story.
CURTAIN DOWN - AND NOT A
MINUTE TOO SOON
At the Copa will close in January at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas and David Cassidy will
play off the remaining second year of his two year contract with Harrah's entertainment, Inc.
performing concerts at a variety of Harrah venues
The multi-talented Vegas resident was a smashing success when he starred in EFX at
the MGM Grand. He returned to Vegas after starring on Broadway in Blood Brothers.
Since then he's been plagued by a variety of entertainment problems
His production of The Rat Pack is Back received the ire of Tina Sinatra representing the
Sinatra estate and lawsuits are pending. The production switched hotels and is currently playing at
the Sahara Hotel.
Cassidy then opened At The Copa a pseudo Broadway styled musical in which Cassidy
and Sheena Easton play nightclub singers. Cassidy co-starring with Easton has always been the
production problem. Cassidy and Easton don't work well together - which is an incredibly polite
way of describing their relationship
The show will close January 21
PETE n' KEELY began
previews last night at the John Housman Theatre NYC. It's a comic musical about a divorced
"singing sweethearts" couple reuniting for a TV special. Sally Mayes and George
SALLY MAYES as an Eydie Gorme character
It's 1968! Tune in as America's singin' sweethearts - Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens - reunite for a
live television special re-living their illustrious musical career on TV, in Las Vegas showrooms,
and at the top of the hit parade. The only catch - they haven't spoken since their big breakup at
Caesar's Palace five years ago.
The concept is a hoot - a cross between Sonny and Cher, Steve and Eydie, Kiss Me Kate,
and Forever Plaid.
Conceived by James Hindman, Mark Waldrop and Patrick Brady, and written by Hindman.
Pete 'n' Keely stars Tony nominee Mayes and George Dvorsky as the singing duo who find
themselves back on the roller coaster that got them where they are today...divorced!
The score of Pete 'n' Keely includes new material and standards from the 1950s
and 60s which facilitate the stories of the protagonists' careers and relationship. Singing of those
swing tunes permit the protagonists' hidden emotions to surface. Stifled emotions and words
kept silent suddenly in a poignant yet funny way - surface.
The musical numbers include many Steve & Eydie hits Besame Mucho, Burke and Van
Heusen's But Beautiful, Fever, Rodgers and Hart's Lover, Steve Allen's This
Could Be the Start of Something Big, plus new songs by Brady and Waldrop, including
Kid Stuff, Tony & Cleo - which is a sendup of Antony and Cleopatra), Too Fat to Fit,
Wasn't It Fine, Have You Got a Lot to Learn, Hello, Egypt!, and more.
Mayes' longtime cabaret collaborator, Patrick Brady, who recently served as musical director and
conductor for Fosse, contributed original music and serves as arranger and musical
There are women whose social lives have been totally altered by just donning a Bob Mackie gown.
His creations put the cherry on the Vegas sundae back in the days when Vegas had a certain
pizzazzy elan. Mackie who is also noted for putting the glitz on Cher, Carol Burnett and
Bernadatte Peters has glamorously designed the production.
Also on board is legendary scenic designer Ray Klausen, known for Night of 100 Stars;
Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award Shows.
Steven Asher, David W. Unger and Avalon Entertainment are the producers for this production in
which Mayes and Dvorsky have starred since it was first staged in Springfield, MA, last
Mayes was nominated for a Tony Award for playing Ilona in the revival of She Loves
Me, and introduced "Miss Byrd" in the Maltby and Shire revue, Closer Than Ever.
She won a Theatre World Award for Cy Coleman's Welcome to the Club. Her very first
solo album was The Dorothy Fields Songbook. Her other albums include Our Private
World: The Comden and Green Songbook, The Story Hour, and her latest Boys and
Girls Like You and Me.
Dvorsky's Broadway credits include The Scarlet Pimpernel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
Passion, Marilyn: An American Fable, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
The show officially opens December 14.
LARRY GATLIN starring in THE CIVIL WAR will be staged at The Capitol Theater, Salt Lake City April 17-22. Tickets
are now on sale.
SHOW BOAT the national tour
set to dock at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City February 27-March 4. Tickets are now on
MAMMA MIA! a new musical
headed for Broadway, based on the songs of Abba, is now playing at the Orpheum Theatre, San
Francisco through January 7.
KATHLEEN TURNER IN TALLULAH a play by Sandra Ryan Heyward, directed by Michael Lessac will be at the
Curran Theatre, San Francisco January 17-February 11.
STOMP puts their collective feet
down at the Marines Memorial Theatre, San Francisco January 2-March 11.
FOREVER TANGO opens Dec.
20 at the Theatre on the Square, San Francisco. Performances through December 31.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS
winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, by Donald Margulies, directed by Richard Seyd continues at the
Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California through January 5.
THE LAST OF THE THORTONS
starring Mason Adams, Anne Pitoniak, Estelle Parsons and Hallie Foote in
the Off-Broadway premiere by Horton Foote, at the Signature Theatre Company officially opens
tonight December 3. Signature's founding artistic director James Houghton directs. The cast includes:
Alice McLane, Timothy Altmeyer, Mary Catherine Garrison, Michael Hadge, Jen Jones and
Cherene Snow. The production runs through December 31.
THE WEIR starring Amy Mortonand Alan Wilder
also officially opened tonight, December 3 in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre
Company. The one-set Conor McPherson play includes Rob Riley, John Sierros, Larry
Brandenburg and Amy Warren. Karin Kopischke designed the costumes, Todd Rosenthal the sets;
lighting under the direction of Chris Binder and Rob Milburn on sound. The production runs
through January 20.
THE SHANEEQUA CHRONICLES Written and Performed by Stephanie Berry has been extended through
December 10 at The Ensemble Studio Theatre NYC. Curt Dempster, Artistic Director is presenting the
production which is The Making of a Black Woman's journey through life in late 20th Century
America. Its a slice of life that is African-centered, specific to Harlem and yet connected to us
all, The Shaneequa Chronicles uses rich language and dance to define life-shaping
moments in a journey that is poetic, funny, hypnotic and exhilarating. Directed by Talvin Wilks
with choreography by Amparo Santiago.
MOVING BODIES by Arthur
Giron, will have a special presentation hosted by The Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton,
New Jersey on December 4.
The production is about physicist Richard Feynman. The event will feature a concert reading of
the newly revised play which premiered in New York City at the Ensemble Studio Theatre
(E.S.T.)/Alfred P. Sloan Science and Technology New Play Festival last April. Following the
Princeton performance by the original New York cast, directed by Chris Smith, there will be a
forum discussion including the playwright, Institute scientists and the audience. The new version
of Moving Bodies will be based in part on new research and information acquired by Mr.
Giron since the initial production, from interviews with Feynman's ex-colleagues and new
publications, including, Einstein in Love by Dennis Overbye.
Giron's epic, comic play portrays Feynman as an iconoclastic young man, a physicist with the
Manhattan Project and confronting the mystery of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The
author is under commission from the EST/SLOAN Science and Technology Project to continue
developing Moving Bodies
Founded in 1930, The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world's foremost post-doctoral
centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute serves all colleges and
universities by providing a place where scholars can do their best work, thereby adding
substantially to their ability to contribute as both teachers and scholars to the academic institutions
where they will base their careers. Past faculty include: Albert Einstein, John von Neumann,
Andra Weil, and Kurt Godel. Nearly every prominent theoretical physicist and mathematician in
the world has spent a period of time at the Institute.
BARBARA COOK at the Papermill
Playhouse in Millburn, NJ on December 5.
LINDA EDER in concert on December
6: at the Ordway Center for the Perf. Arts in St. Paul, MN.
PATTI LUPONE performs
Matters of the Heart; Sunday and Monday evenings at the Vivian Beaumont Theater,
NYC. It wasn't always standing ovations and a string of bookings for the performer. In 1972 she
was booed during her performance of Next Time I'll Fly and again in 1975 when LuPone
and her Three Sisters co-stars Mary-Lou Rosato and Mary Joan Negro were hissed and
booed during a curtain call. Things have gotten better and you can applaud Patti LuPone through
December 17 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre NYC.
KAREN MASON presents her
Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL December 6-10.
MAUREEN McGOVERN stars in the
Holiday Concert W\with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, OR December 8-11. The following night,
December 12, the show does a one nighter in Salem, OR.
performs The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, December 7-17.
MARTY ALLEN has an offer to join
the cast of the Broadway bound show Some Like It Hot The producers came to Vegas to
catch Allen's act at the Orleans and offered him the part of Osgood Fielding III, which was played
by Joe E. Brown in the 1959 flick.
DAVID BRENNER has returned to
Las Vegas for an extended engagement, performing at the Golden Nugget for a two month
stint. His return to the hotel also re-establishes an entertainment policy at that hotel - it's
MICKEY ROONEY performs December 8
in Orem, Utah at Mountain View High School, as part of the SCERA Encore season slate. Catch
his act while you can. The 78-year-old says he isn't sure how much longer he intends to continue
THIS AND THAT
OSCAR GOODMAN the former
mob lawyer turned glitzo Las Vegas mayor has auditioned for a small part as a high-rolling
gambler in the Warner Bros. remake of Ocean's 11. We're not surprised that he's suppose
to get the part - well, duh! We're just surprised that he had to audition. Then again, maybe he
doesn't know any body and had to show up at a cattle call. Ocean's 11 is slated to start
filming in January. It's a remake of the 1960 film by the same name that starred Frank Sinatra,
Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. Peter Lawford orchestrating a huge casino heist with the help of
several colorful associates. In the new version George Clooney will play the Sinatra role of
LOOKING FOR ELVIS According
to calculations by Gordon Forbes III, director and producer of Elvis and the Man Who Would
Be King airing December 10 on The Learning Channel, the number of Elvis impersonators has
increased from 150 in 1977 to about 35,000 this year. Forbes figures one-third of the world's
population could be Elvis impersonators by the year 2019.
DONT EAT THE PARENTS The
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has finally released a line of chocolates which we first
reported in the column of May 21, 2000. To celebrate the I love Lucy classic episode
where Lucy and Ethel work in a chocolate factory. One of the chocolates is shaped like the I
Love Lucy heart and a future candy will be shaped like Desi Arnaz's conga drums. But the
company insists that they will not make chocolates shaped like Lucy and Desi because the couples
kids Lucie and Desi, Jr. "can't stomach the thought of folks eating their parents."
Mention BROADWAY TO VEGAS for Special Consideration
Call (800) 942-9027
Next Column: December 10, 2000
Copyright: December 3, 2000. All Rights Reserved. Reviews,
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