Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column



Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.  
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from May 09, 2008
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - May 9, 2008


Dave Swan

Al Jarreau

Roslyn Kind

The king is dead. Long live the king. Veteran Las Vegas entertainer Dave Swan, who had been battling cancer for quite some time, passed away in his sleep on Tuesday night (May 6th). Before his failing health forced him to retire last summer, Dave Swan played King Arthur in Peter and Patrick Jackson's Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur Hotel/Casino. He also performed the same role in the Jackson's earlier medieval-themed show, King Arthur's Tournament. Producer Dick Feeney (Swan performed in Feeney's Viva Las Vegas revue) reports that Swan had been admitted to the Odyssey Health Care hospice facility on Sunday. During his more than 50 years in show business (almost 30 of those years spent here), Swan worked with headliners such as Tony Bennett, Charo, Roy Orbison and Billy Eckstine before becoming a featured performer in numerous. Last November, a poorly attended benefit (thanks to the poor reputation of some of the people behind it) was held in the Imperial Palace Theater, a venue where Swan had also entertained as part of both Bravo Vegas and Legends in Concert. Shamefully, only $2000 was handed over to the Swans. Dave Swan, who turned 69 on St. Patrick's Day, is survived by Jan, his wife of 47 years. "He was in no pain and on no medications," says Feeney about Swan. "He was up joking and walking around the day before, but the cancer finally got him. God gave him a merciful end and a new beginning." A memorial service for Dave Swan will be held at Christ Church, 2000 Maryland Parkway, on Tuesday at noon.

And speaking of the Imperial Palace and Legends in Concert, the show recently celebrated its Silver Anniversary. On May 5th, 1983, tribute artists Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Bobby Darin and Elvis performed on the stage at the hotel/casino and Legends in Concert was born. More than 15,000 performances later, 74 celebrities have been impersonated on the Imperial Theatre stage, with the most impersonated act being the man once nicknamed "Elvis the Pelvis." In the 25 years since the show debuted, 17 different performers have paid tribute to the legendary "King of Rock 'n' Roll." To date, 5,416,521 show goers have enjoyed the celebrity tribute spectacular in Las Vegas. Because of Legends ever-changing lineup, many come back to see multiple performances, including one devoted fan from Detroit who has seen the live musical production 2,066 times since July 1983. Produced by On Stage Entertainment, Legends remains the longest-running independently owned production show on the Las Vegas Strip. During the past 25 years, Legends in Concert has grown from one production in Vegas to year-round presentations in Branson, MO; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Atlantic City, NJ. For Legends in Concert reservations, call (702) 794-3261.

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Tomorrow, Saturday, May 10th, Dangerous Curves will be singing the National Anthem to kick off the 2nd Annual Las Vegas Walk with Us to Cure Lupus Walkathon. The musical trio - Lisa Smith, Karen Merstick and Kai Solsaa - will also be walking as a team to help raise money, and they need all the help they can get. The purpose of this Walk is simple: to create community awareness of the disease and of the Alliance for Lupus Research, to raise money in support of the ALR's mission to prevent, treat and cure lupus, and to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by lupus. Here are some facts about the disease. Nine out of ten people with Lupus are women. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissue. Lupus can cause life-threatening damage to major organs such as the kidneys, lungs, heart and central nervous system. Lupus is the leading cause of death among women with autoimmune diseases who are in their childbearing years (ages 15-45). Women are five times more likely to die from lupus than men are, and African Americans are three times more likely to die from lupus than Caucasians. Between 1979 and 1998, there was an approximate 70% increase in lupus deaths among middle-aged African American women. Unfortunately, lupus research has been sorely under-funded and the disease itself is often misunderstood. If you are not busy on Saturday, why not join the ladies? Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with the walk starting at 9 a.m. from Wayne Bunker Park at 7351 West Alexander Rd. For additional information, call (702) 845-6181.

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The Cannery Casino Hotel may be trying to capture some of the Suncoast crowd with clever bookings such as tomorrow night's A Romantic Evening of Popera, featuring Romina Arena, Alessandro Safina, Marc Schreiner and Chris Riggins, and Al Jarreau and Stanley Jordan‘s Trio, coming in on May 17th. We have known The Cannery's Special Events Manager, Kathie Spehar, for decades, and think she is doing a great job. Speaking of The Cannery and their interesting bookings, we may have a scoop for our readers. We like scoops and giving you a heads up early enough to plan for the future. In this case, the future is six months away, but we know how quickly time flies...especially when you are having fun in Las Vegas. On November 14th and 15th, singer/actress Roslyn Kind comes into The Club at the northwest Las Vegas property. It has been more than 30 years since Kind has performed here. Believe it or not, in the early ‘70s, Rozzie, as her friends call her, shared the Las Vegas Hilton stage with Elvis Presley. In 1973, she performed at the Flamingo Hilton. Roslyn may best be known as Barbra Streisand's kid sister, but this lady doesn't have to stand in anyone's shadow, even Streisand‘s. In a Las Vegas connection, Rozzie made her theatrical debut in a Los Angeles production of Ferguson the Tailor, directed by acting coach/producer, Gerald Gordon. Gordon, a Southern California transplant, has been a Las Vegan for about the past 10 years.

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Roseanne Barr

Frankie Valli

Jimmy Hopper

Emmy-winner Roseanne Barr, currently headlining at the Sahara, has been all over TV in the past week...sort of. On a segment of the Today show, a pitch for Mother's Day showed Roseanne getting a facial (probably a clip from her hit TV series). There was also a verbal reference to her in a Boston Legal episode, and the Domestic Goddess was mentioned by her former Roseanne co-star, John Goodman, on a late night talk show visit to plug his new movie, Speed Racer. During one of her recent performances at the Sahara, Barr effectively and humorously handled a couple of audience members who had consumed a little more than they could handle. Let that be a warning...In a verbal sparring contest, Roseanne Barr comes prepared for combat. An amateur should never take on a champion. For reservations, call (702) 737-2515.

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This seasons' winner of American Idol was in Las Vegas this last week, checking out the city and Cirque du Soleil's Love at The Mirage. Okay, so we didn't say exactly WHO the Idol is, but since the four (now down to three with the departure on Wednesday of Jason Castro) finalists were here, one of them is definitely going to be named the American Idol on the season finale, Wednesday, May 21st. Will it be Syesha Mercado, or one of the two Davids (David Cook or David Archuleta)?

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Last Friday night, we attended the media night performance of Jersey Boys. We think the Palazzo might have a hit on their hands. Jersey Boys should attract the same kind of Broadway musical show goer as Mamma Mia! Maybe what it takes to be successful in Las Vegas is a production with familiar music, as in Mamma Mia!, featuring the music of ABBA, and Jersey Boys, with the familiar songs of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The story line is interesting, telling the tale of the early years of Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi; the show moves quickly and presents some very talented men singing classic ‘60s tunes like Sherry, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don't Cry, Rag Doll, My Eyes Adored You and Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye). Did Valli himself ever sing the hits as well as actor Rick Faugno, who portrays the Seasons' lead singer in this production? The night after the media had a chance to see the show, the REALLY important VIPs filled up the new theater. Among those in the audience was the real Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, who was celebrating his 74th birthday...with hundreds of his nearest and dearest friends (the Jersey Boys theater seats more than 1,700 people). For reservations, call (702) 414-9000.

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We are sorry to report that Jimmy Hopper has ended his all too short run in the Lava Room at Trader Vic's. With no warning, Hopper pulled the plug on his four nights a week show, this shortly after numerous promotional billboards went up around the city. If minds were changed about having the Lava Room become Hopper's "permanent" Las Vegas home, we have to wonder why the public wasn't alerted...especially, his strong local fan base. We think it would have been wise to get the word out that the public only had another week or two to catch Hopper's show here, as the talented entertainer was heading out on tour...or some other explanation. This location was never going to be an easy sell for Hopper. Music lovers needed to know he was back in Vegas (after a number of years away) and they needed to be directed to the new Trader Vic's inside Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops. With days and times of performances changing, not to mention the cost to see his show (the $20 cover charge was dropped after a few weeks), this became confusing to the public. We hope this aborted effort doesn't discourage Hopper from finding a more appropriate venue here. The last time that he sang the beautiful Time to Say Goodbye in the Lava Room, apparently Jimmy Hopper really meant it. We look forward to his return.

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One could only hope that last November's benefit for ailing Dave Swan (as mentioned above, Dave passed away on Tuesday) would have taught people a valuable lesson. Some folks are just very slow learners. An organization, created five years ago to assist members of the entertainment community with special needs, is now being run under a new name by a delusional, power-hungry egomaniac. It is no longer a viable charity. Instead, it is now a sad joke. Sad, because what started out as a wonderful idea, has turned into a showcase for wannabes and those who never were and never will be. A joke, because of the people who have come on board to promote their own agendas and bolster their own images, thereby sacrificing fundraising for those in need. At least one Las Vegas Review-Journal media-type gets it. From entertainment writer Mike Weatherford's May 1st column comes his thoughts regarding last Sunday's luncheon...

Clint Holmes will find out the true nature of his friends on Sunday, when he receives the Louis Prima Award from the Showbiz Society in a lunch at the Suncoast. Entertainer Tony Sacca says Holmes' show business pals are toying with the idea of a roast format like the old Dean Martin specials. Regardless, it's bound to be fun with a guest list that includes Frank Scinta, Gordie Brown, Jimmy Hopper and Earl Turner. Lena Prima, daughter of the late lounge legend Louis Prima, will present the award at the noon lunch Sunday. Tickets are $50 for Society members and $75 for nonmembers. Call 877-2278 for more information. The Showbiz Society spun off a previous entity known as The Cast, Inc. in a controversial January change that generated resignations and lingering ill will. Sacca says the new group's mission is still to help entertainers in need. It's hard to say if Holmes' participation will help restore credibility to the group, and still early for the new entity to have earned that trust. A group of former Cast members moved very efficiently on their own recently, raising more than $17,000 in a benefit for lounge pioneer Norman Kaye. But if you forget how much Holmes does on the charity circuit by himself, he is double-booked for two benefits on May 17. He plans to open the Make A Wish Foundation ball at Planet Hollywood, then skip over to The Venetian to host the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Hope Gala.

We feel that if a credible group had been behind this gathering to honor Clint Holmes, there would have been many hundreds in attendance instead of the handful (about 100) of people that did turn out. The talented Mr. Holmes, who has a large fan base and about a 10-year ongoing history in Las Vegas, deserved a better shot.


Clint Holmes

David Saxe

Wally Eastwood

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Through the end of May, all shows produced by David Saxe Productions will offer a very special rate to locals, with a portion of each sale going to Las Vegas' Opportunity Village. Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities by providing them with vocational training, employment and social recreation services that make their lives more productive and meaningful. Show goers can present a valid Las Vegas ID at the V Theater and Sahara Box Offices to receive a special $25 ticket price for all shows produced by David Saxe Productions including V - The Ultimate Variety Show, Gordie Brown, Toxic Audio, and Gregory Popovich - Comedy Pet Theater at the V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood; and Trent Carlini: The Dream King, and Fab Four Mania at The Sahara Hotel & Casino. On June 18th, during the KTNV Channel 13 Telethon, David Saxe will present a check to Opportunity Village for the amount raised during the month of May. "What better way to give back to the community than to help people with intellectual disabilities who are trying to make their lives better?," asked Saxe. "We couldn't be happier than to partner with Opportunity Village throughout May." And speaking of David Saxe, world famous comedy juggler, Wally Eastwood, who hosts Saxe's V - The Ultimate Variety Show, has successfully made it through to the second round of America's Got Talent.
Wally has starred in the entertainment business in Las Vegas for the past 20 years and has been featured in five major production shows on the Strip. For more information about David Saxe Productions, call (702) 243-9820 or visit
www.davidsaxe.com.

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And for you folks in and around New York, from now through May 17th, Feinstein's at Loews Regency is celebrating 50 Years of Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, featuring Alan Bergman and special "surprise" guests each night! Feinstein's continues the Spring 2008 season with Michael Feinstein himself performing Bergman classics such as The Windmills of Your Mind, How Do You Keep The Music Playing and Where Do You Start?, in addition to rarely heard songs from their catalog. The show will feature Alan Bergman as special guest vocalist, in addition to nightly guest stars. Musical director John Oddo leads an all-star quintet. Shows are at 8:30 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at 8 and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be a special added 8:30 show on Sunday, Mother's Day. All shows have a $100 cover with $125 premium seats and a $40 minimum. Jackets are suggested but not required. Feinstein's at Loews Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in NYC. Call (212) 339-4095 for reservations and additional information.


Michael Feinstein

Darin Hollingsworth

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People are losing their homes to foreclosure. They are losing their jobs because of poor economy-related downsizing. With the constant changing (upward) fuel prices, filling stations need a fulltime employee just to keep the pricing signs in front of their establishments current. Groceries - not filet mignon and lobster, but bread, milk and eggs - are increasing at an alarming rate. Beginning next week, postage stamps are going up again (buy a bunch of one centers). Water. Electricity. Everywhere you turn, someone is demanding a bigger slice of your small pie. In spite of all of this, the powers that be (we would like to find these folks) have come up with another way to gouge the public. If we all don't have new TVs, come February 17th, we will either have to purchase some kind of adapter or miss Judge Judy, American Idol and Dr. Phil. Your night light and home noisemakers will go dark and silent. Unless you come up with the money, no TV for you. Who lies awake at night dreaming these things up? It's like financial blackmail! And if all of this isn't scary enough, now comes word that another of life's necessities will take a big jump in price. Yes folks, it's true. A decades old Vegas tradition, the downtown Golden Gate Casino‘s 99 cent shrimp cocktail, is now history. Buckling under the financial pressure, the little casino has raised the price of their world famous bargain to $1.99. The good news is that if you are a member of the Golden Gate's Players Club, you can still gobble up a generous serving of shrimp for the 99-cent price...cocktail sauce and plenty of saltines included. The shrimp cocktail special has been a staple of the Golden Gate since 1959, when it was just 50 cents. By 1991, the price went up to the outrageous 99 cents. In spite of that, the casino claims it has sold more than 30-million of the seafood treats. Bon appetite!

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If you are in Las Vegas, there are many ways to spend Mother's Day. Here are just a few of them...Take the mother (or mothers) in your circle, to the Liberace Museum on Sunday, May 11th. There you will able to (1) have a fun outing with mom, and (2) honor Mr. Showmanship on what would have been his 89th birthday (Wladziu Valentino Liberace was actually born on May 16th, 1919). Admission to the museum will be free on Mother's Day, so visitors will be able to experience the glamour and glitter that was Liberace. You can even take some sparkle home with you, thanks to the great gift store inside the museum. (Sorry, those items are not free.) In addition, visitors will be able to enjoy the Liberace Scholars Quartet as part of the 2008 Music in the Museum Series. Students from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will perform Mozart's String Quartet in D Major, K. 575. Written in 1789, just two years before the composer's premature death, this piece represents Mozart at the height of his craft. Performance times are at 1:30 and 3 p.m. The Liberace Museum/Foundation happily and graciously accepts donations for performances such as these. All contributions go to the Liberace Scholarship Fund to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts. Liberace founded the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts in 1976. Since that time, more than $5.5 million in scholarship grants have been awarded to over 2,200 students at more than 110 colleges and universities. This is part of Liberace's legacy. He considered The Foundation to be one of his greatest achievements. The museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer. Hours of operation are Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. They are closed on Mondays. And congratulations go out to Darin Hollingsworth. The Liberace Foundation and Museum Board of Directors have announced his promotion to President. Darin's responsibilities include the operational vision for all Foundation areas including the Liberace Museum, fundraising, scholarship program, grant-making, financial management, information technology, marketing, public relations and community outreach. He joined the non-profit organization in February 2006 as its Executive Director, and has since implemented several strategic and brand-building initiatives, including the museum's monthly 2nd Sundays event for Nevadans, the annual Liberace Piano Competition, the Adopt-A-Collection Fund, Rhinestone Society, the Liberace social-networking League, a new Web site, e-newsletter, and the Music In the Museum Series, to name a few. Since his arrival in Las Vegas in 2000, Hollingsworth has been honored by In Business Las Vegas as a recipient of the 2007 "Top 40 Under 40" Award. He previously was employed at Merrill Lynch and the UNLV College of Business Director of Development.


Norm Johnson bronze

Paige O'Hara painting

Another way to spend Mother's Day (and the day before) is at the Annual ArtFest in the city of Henderson. Among the more than 200 artists exhibiting their wares at the Henderson Events Plaza in the Water Street District, are sculptor Norm Johnson and painter Paige O'Hara. As a performer, Ms. O'Hara is probably best known for her singing role as Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast film. Paige has some dandy solo CDs to her credit, Paige O'Hara Sings Jerry Herman: Loving You and Dream with Me, as well as cast recordings including Show Boat, Sitting Pretty, South Pacific and Cousin Claire's personal favorite, the 1988 London Concert version of Jerry Herman's Mack and Mabel, on which she participates. Paige is currently one of the performers in Menopause the Musical at the Las Vegas Hilton. As for Mr. Johnson, much of his "other life" has been spent racing cars and writing. He has a couple of books to his credit, including Magellans of the Sky and, over his years in Las Vegas, Johnson has worked as a publicist for numerous entertainers, including Freddie Bell, Charlie Daniels, Wally Eastwood, Lola Falana, Robert Goulet, Sonny King, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck and The Supreme Mary Wilson. Johnson and O'Hara will be sharing a booth to display their artwork. They invite you to come by, say hello, see their creations and, perhaps, even make a purchase. Weekend festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

And speaking of Mary Wilson, on a recent episode of NBC's Dateline, an ongoing series called What Would You Do? was aired. The public's reaction to controversial situations is observed in these programs. One segment involved a child in distress, with a couple of seven-year-old actors pretending to be lost on a busy New York street. In a sign of the times we live in, sadly, only 40 out of approximately 1,700 people who passed by the crying child stopped to offer help. Another segment featured a couple of very bad singers (ala American Idol's very early tryouts) asking the public for their honest opinions (most of the "critics" tried hard to be kind). One of those asked to judge the poor singers was Ms. Wilson. It turns out that the Las Vegas residents' part in this portion of Dateline was not by accident. It was a cute piece of business.

Cousin Claire knows how Siameze Floyd, son of Eric Floyd and Wanda Dee, will be spending part of his Mother's Day. In addition to honoring his mother, the talented young singer/mover and shaker will be at Planet Hollywood, auditioning for the upcoming season of America's Got Talent. The public will be admitted to the 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday tapings, held inside the Theatre for the Performing Arts (the former home of magician Hans Klok). If you plan to go, wear TV-appropriate clothing. In other words, the producers want a classy looking audience, as in no tank or tube tops.


Siameze

Terry Fator

Cher

And speaking of America's Got Talent, when Terry Fator became a contestant on the reality show, one of his goals was to get work in Las Vegas. Last August, not only did the multi-talented celebrity impressionist/ ventriloquist/singer/comedian win the votes of millions to take home the title of "Winner," Fator has also become a monthly Las Vegas Hilton headliner. Upcoming dates include May 16-18, June 8-10, July 4-6, August 15-17, September 15-17, October 13-15, November 16-18 and December 21 and 22. For reservations, call (702) 732-5755 or (800) 222-5361.

There is another local TV competition going on. This one involves Las Vegas' own Frank Marino. The star of the Riviera's An Evening at La Cage is hoping to become Extra's New Face of Vegas. The finalists to become a member of Extra's interview team now number four. Tune in Tuesday and vote for your favorite (female impersonator). Check your TV listings for show times and stations.

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Jazz at The Orleans will take place poolside, every Friday night through June 13th. Concerts, from 7 to 10 p.m., will feature a variety of talented jazz artists and will be hosted by "The Oasis" Smooth Jazz 105.7. Admission is free. Scheduled to perform tonight is Gipsy Knights, with Jim Spoto next Friday, the 16th. Additional performers will be announced. Who says there are no entertainment bargains in Las Vegas? The Orleans is located at 4500 W. Tropicana Ave. The property includes more than a dozen restaurants, an 18-screen movie theater, 70-lane bowling center, 850-seat showroom and the 9,500-seat Orleans Arena. There is also a 135,000-square foot casino with 68 table games, including Blackjack-21, Roulette, Baccarat, Craps and Pai Gow. Visitors will also find more than 1,800 slot and video poker machines, a bingo parlor, keno lounge and race and sports book. More information on The Orleans Hotel and Casino can be found at www.orleanscasino.com.

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Cher, there's only one, is now a regular part of the Las Vegas entertainment lineup. The 61year-old diva will perform in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where she will alternate with Bette Midler, Elton John and, occasionally, with Jerry Seinfeld. In case you didn't know, or have forgotten (how quickly that happens), it was the Celine Dion, aka Queen Celine, who opened the new Colosseum on March 25th, 2003. When her reign ended on December 15th of last year, three million people had seen A New Day, generating upwards of $400 million. Will Cher, who supposedly retired a few years ago only to make numerous "comebacks," generate the same kind of interest from the public? Will Bette Midler? Unlike Celine, who is primarily noted for her vocal skills rather than as a live performer, both Bette and Cher minor in singing, and major in visual entertainment.

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Le Théâtre des Arts showroom at Paris Las Vegas (until early February, the home of Mel Brooks' Tony-winning musical, The Producers), will be the site of this year's Golden Rainbow 22nd Annual Ribbon of Life Fundraiser. The all-original, all-singing, all-dancing spectacular production features a cast of 300 performers from all the shows in Las Vegas. Performances are at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 14th and 15th. All proceeds benefit Golden Rainbow's mission to provide housing and direct financial assistance to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. Golden Rainbow is also dedicated to supporting HIV/AIDS related education. Tickets are $35, $50, $100 and $200, and are available by calling (702) 384-2899. We will have more information on this event as it gets closer to the date.

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Here are some Taurus folks who have already celebrated, or will soon be celebrating, their 2008 birthdays (no bull!)...Jerry Fink, Brenda Leonard Cowart, Babe Pier, Lucy Shropshire, Howard Jochsberger, Aurora Miller, Nancy Archer, Wes Davis, Darcus, Harvey Goldson, Grant Philipo, Michael Paskevich, Peter Gordon, and "Mr. Warmth" Don Rickles, who turned 82 yesterday (Rickles returns to The Orleans, July 31st through August 3rd). Also, a happy 13th anniversary to Marianne and Whitney Phoenix.



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