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 13, 2011
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - May 13, 2011


Marty Allen & Karon Kate Blackwell

Martin & Bert Nievera, plus Society of Seven

Marty, Martin and another Martin (with a Karon thrown in for good measure)...
Cousin Claire just got word that veteran funnyman, Marty Allen, and his musical straight woman wife, the talented Karon Kate Blackwell, will be filling in for comic Louie Anderson while Louie takes a week off for some R&R next month. From June 14th through the 18th, Marty and Karon will keep the laughs, AND music, going in the Louie Anderson Theater at the Palace Station. This will be the first opportunity for the husband and wife duo (the twosome have been married for almost 27 years) to debut their all new Hello Dere show to Las Vegas audiences. Dubbed "The George Burns and Gracie Allen of the 21st Century," Marty and Karon rarely get to spend much time at home in Las Vegas, as they are working around the world. The dynamic duo are cruise ship sensations, having performed more than 600 at-sea shows in a ten year period. Recognized for his wild "hair- don't," Marty presents routines and characters that keep audiences roaring, while Karon presents dynamic singing and incredible piano playing, all while serving as the perfect foil for her hubby's shenanigans. Louie Anderson is leaving his Palace Station stage in very good hands with these two pros. We will have more details about Hello Dere, starring Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell, closer to the June 14th through 18th dates. Stay tuned.
Photo of Marty and Karon by Stephen Thorburn

Based on the size of the crowds at the MGM Grand last weekend, it's hard to believe that the country is in a recession. Fight fans don't let anything much stop them. In addition to the Manny Pacquiao/Shane Mosley fist fest, the MGM Grand had some extra attractions for visitors (both locals and travelers) to enjoy while hanging out in Las Vegas. Popular comic, Jo Koy, performed 10:30 shows in the Hollywood Theatre on both Friday and Saturday nights, and did great business. At 7 p.m. on the pre-fight Friday night, one of our favorites, Martin Nievera, entertained a large crowd in the same MGM (standing for "Martin's Greatest Moment," on that night) theater. Known as "The Concert King" in the Philippines, Nievera's Knockout Concert delivered its own type of punches - musical punches. Backed by eight musicians and two backup singers, Martin did his amazing interpretation of songs made famous by Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, and others. A portion of Clint Holmes-penned "I Sing," followed by a medley of music from the Broadway stage, was a highlight, as were the Filipino favorites made famous by Martin. For those of us that don't have a clue what the lyrics are saying, it doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the selections (many used in well-known soap operas from the Philippines). Just a few notes into those songs, the fans are screaming like teenagers. Nievera's range and soaring voice results in more than a few goose bumps. This man should have a permanent showroom in Las Vegas. Joining Martin on stage for a few numbers were his sister, a niece and his father, Roberto "Bert" Nievera, and the men of Society of Seven (Bert Nievera was one of the original members of SOS). It was a great show. We want more.

And speaking of the Society of Seven, they are off to Hawaii for dates at the Outrigger Showroom, a place where the group has been performing for 42 years (that's what you call "a steady gig"). The popular music and comedy ensemble, with special guests, Martin Nievera and talented young Arshiel, will perform at the Waikiki hotspot, from June 14th through July 2nd. The newest SOS member, handsome and talented Ryan Gallagher, will be featured. If you plan to be, or are, in Hawaii during that time, call (808) 922-6408 for reservations. On August 19th (the birthday of former president Bill Clinton), Society of Seven will do their first gig at the Eastside Cannery. We look forward to seeing SOS back in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, May 4th, we were at the Winchester Cultural Center Theater to hear Martin Kreloff talk about his art career. A video presentation showed the variety and evolution of Kreloff's work. We have seen many of Kreloff's recent creations, but were very surprised to see some of what inspired and influenced his early work. We spotted some of our own personal favorites - everything from the actress, Nancy Walker (we loved her as Ida Morgenstern on Rhoda, starring Valerie Harper, but our favorite was her role as Mildred the housekeeper on the TV detective series, McMillan & Wife, with Rock Hudson and Susan St. James), to the Mell Lazarus-created cartoon character, Momma. Martin's presentation was warm and very interesting. It felt like visiting an old friend at their home. The Martin Kreloff - Made In Vegas exhibit, featuring portraits of families and individuals that Marty has met during his seven years in Southern Nevada, will hang at the Winchester Gallery through June 3rd. If you have any interest in art, we urge you to take the trip to 3130 S. McLeod (just north of Desert Inn). The center is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.


Artist Martin Kreloff Self-Portrait

Wes Winters

* * * * * * * *

Reminder...
It's a Scintas weekend at the Suncoast. Frankie Scinta, Joe Scinta, Chrissi Scinta, and adopted Scinta, Pete O'Donnell, perform 7:30 shows, tomorrow and Sunday nights in the hotel casino showroom. Tickets start at $29.95, plus taxes and convenience fees, and may be purchased by calling the Suncoast at (702) 636-7075, or (877) 636-7111.

* * * * * * * *

On Sunday, May 22nd, Wes Winters returns to the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater as part of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's popular series. This will be the pianist and singers 22nd program for the PASNV since his arrival in Las Vegas from Kansas City in 2003. Wes Winters is one of those special artists whose repertoire runs the gamut from A to Z. He is never satisfied doing the same type of program, so each new show is always a surprise to his audiences. This time around, Wes will be presenting some of his all-time favorite songs and music, as well as a very special guest - 14-year-old violin prodigy, Ariella Nounna. Miss Nounna has performed at the White House on three separate occasions, and has played at the Marie Antoinette Private Theatre in Versailles, France. The young lady has been an honorary member of The Old Time Fiddlers since she was 12. The cost of tickets is $15 (cash or check - no credit cards) and tickets can be ordered by phone at (702) 658-6741, or purchased at the library box office, one hour before the 2 p.m. performance. Doors to the 399-seat, state-of-the-art theater, open at 1:30. The Flamingo Library Clark County Theatre is located at 1401 East Flamingo.

While Wes Winters is performing for the audience in the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre next Sunday, Diane Ellis will, once again, fill in for the piano man at the Mimosas & Music Brunch at ENVY The Steakhouse in the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, at 3400 Paradise Road. This will be Diane's second time entertaining at ENVY. Once again, the vocalist, who is a cast member of Nunsense at the Las Vegas Hilton, will be accompanied by the talented Paul Stevenson on piano. ENVY has what many consider to be the best Sunday Brunch in the city. Among the delicious offerings are Smoked Salmon with Tomatoes, Red Onions and Capers; Freshly Baked mini Bagels with Raspberry, Chive and Smoked Bacon Cream Cheese; Fresh Fruit and Berries; Soup of the Day; Build Your Own Omelet Station; Honey Maple Bacon and Breakfast Sausage; Classic Belgian Waffle Station; Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise; Cheese Blintzes; Vanilla Raisin Brioche French Toast; Buttermilk Pancakes; Chef's Carving Station; Mini Gourmet Sandwiches; ENVY Seafood Station with Shrimp and Crab Legs; Warm Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce; Assorted Mini Pastries and Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Cost is $29.95 per person, tax and gratuity not included (prices may vary on holidays for the Mimosas & Music Sunday Brunch). All of this takes place every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes unlimited Sparkling Wine, Mimosas, Fruit Smoothies and "Build your own" Bloody Mary Bar. Reservations are suggested. Call (702) 784-5716.


Diane Ellis at ENVY The Steakhouse

Ferrante & Teicher, Kittens On the Keys

And speaking of the piano...
Ferrante and Teicher need a good home. We are told that the adorable (see accompanying photo) and inseparable eight-week-old brother and sister kittens "can play in any key." If you can provide these two sweeties with a loving home, they are available now. Please contact Gary at (917) 514-5055.


* * * * * * * *

A number of people from our entertainment community are dealing with some very serious health issues. Bob Flanigan, the original lead singer of the famed Four Freshmen; astrologist/author, Eve Quillin; and singer, Michaelina Bellamy, can all use your positive thoughts and prayers. Anyone who would like to send a personal message, may do so through this column. E-mail your good wishes to ClaireVoyantLasVegas . We will pass them on.

* * * * * * * *


Erich Bergen

Angela Wildflower Polk

From Erich Bergen comes this news...Due to high ticket demand for his May 18th Los Angeles concert, Show at Barre, a second performance has been added on May 25th, at 8 p.m. Erich, who played Bob Gaudio in the Las Vegas version of Jersey Boys, will be joined on the 18th by his former Jersey Boys co-star, Travis Cloer, who plays Frankie Valli in The Palazzo production. Also joining Bergen, for both shows, is Angela Wildflower Polk, who appeared with Erich in the Center Theater's, Venice - A New Musical. They will be backed by a fantastic group of musicians. As a cast member of the Grammy and Tony-winning Jersey Boys (the original National Tour, Los Angeles and Las Vegas casts), Erich racked up more than 1,000 performances of the musical, including appearances on The Tonight Show and America's Got Talent. Other recent theatrical credits include A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum at Reprise, and The Temperamentals at The Blank Theatre Company. Television credits include a recurring role on Gossip Girl and, more recently, opposite Felicity Huffman on Desperate Housewives. As a singer/songwriter, Erich released his debut album, The Vegas Sessions, in late 2009. Following his recent critically acclaimed solo concert performances in Hollywood, San Francisco and Las Vegas, Bergen brings his electrifying talent back to Los Angeles in an all new Show At Barre, 1714 N. Vermont Ave. Featuring songs from The Vegas Sessions, Erich's show will leave you singing, dancing, laughing and quite possibly, calling for a cab home. Show times are at 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30). General admission tickets are $20 (plus $2.20 fee), and VIP Preferred Seating tickets are $35 (plus $3.10 fee). For tickets and additional info, call (323) 661-6163, or visit http://showatbarre.inticketing. com/events.

* * * * * * * *

On May 17th, Donny & Marie unveil a revamped version of their popular variety show at the Flamingo. One of the most popular acts on the Las Vegas Strip, America's favorite brother-sister duo will implement some exciting new changes to their show in the hotel casino's intimate showroom. The lively 90-minute variety show will still incorporate singing, dancing, comedy and the stars' signature brother-sister banter. One of the most recognizable changes is the show's new opening number, which features "It Takes Two" and "Vegas Love," a song from the duo's first album in 30 years, Donny & Marie, which was released earlier this month by MPCA Records. Immediately following the opening, is an energetic dance sequence set to "Get the Party Started," "Dancing in the Streets," "Knock on Wood," "Higher" and "Dance to the Music." Marie's portion of the show now includes a fun mix of "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" and "Walk this Way." The energy-filled country number includes line-dancing and an only-in-Vegas Swarovski crystal- covered electric guitar and cowboy boots. Marie also sings a new Broadway medley, featuring classics such as "All That Jazz," "Cabaret," "But the World Goes 'Round," and "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Donny will debut a fresh new version of "Yo-Yo," the classic he recorded with his brothers 40 years ago. He also plays the piano for "Whenever You're in Trouble," a very personal song he wrote about one of his sons. The legendary brother and sister duo also have a special dance-off, inspired by the hit ABC show in which both of them appeared, Dancing with the Stars. Donny & Marie, who opened at the legendary center-Strip property on September 9th, 2008, recently celebrated their 500th show at Flamingo Las Vegas. The response to their show was so immediate and overwhelming, that, after only six weeks, their original six-month contract was extended through 2011. Donny & Marie perform at 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Ticket prices are $95, $109, $125 and $260 (plus tax and fees), and are available at the Flamingo Box Office, by phone at (702) 733-3333 or (800) 221-7299, or by visiting www.flamingolasvegas.com.


Donny & Marie

Tara Lynn Phillips

* * * * * * * *

On Wednesday (May 18th), $trip The Play opens at the newly renovated Aruba Hotel & Spa, 1215 Las Vegas Blvd. So. (between Oakey and Charleston), for a limited engagement. $TRIP The Play, written, produced and directed by George Damian, had a successful run in Los Angeles. Based on true stories, $trip The Play is about a fictional Las Vegas strip club called The Sunset Lounge. Buck, the owner, has been murdered and now there's a crime to solve. That's when, Amanda Cole, played by Tara Lynn Phillips, a file clerk with Las Vegas Metro Police, goes undercover as "America" the stripper. According to the press release, $trip is the first and only play to ever combine live acting and beautiful actresses stripping to pasties and pole dancing. Performance times are 9 p.m. (doors open at 8), Wednesday nights, May 18th through July 13th, in the Club Aruba. There is limited free parking at the hotel. Taxi service is highly recommended. There is a $25 cover, plus tax, and a two drink minimum for $trip The Play. Included is the Aruba Comedy Show (stand-up comedy) after the play. Purchase tickets online at striptheplay.com, or phone (800) 838-3006. You can also walk up on show nights and pay by cash or credit card using ATM.

* * * * * * * *


Steve Wynn & Andrea Hissom Wynn by Brittany Hanson

Marie Osmond & Stephen Craig - Then & Now

While London was celebrating the marriage of Will and Kate, Las Vegas was also hosting a couple of celebrity weddings. Casino mogul Steve Wynn married Brit Andrea Hissom in a lavish ceremony on April 30th, and singer Marie Osmond re-married her first husband, Steve Craig, on May 4th. Actor Clint Eastwood served as best man at the Wynn-Hissom million dollar ceremony, held at Encore. Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone, Hugh Jackman, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion were among the 500 guests at the Hollywood-style wedding. As for Osmond and Craig, they were first married in 1982, when both were in their 20s, and divorced three years later. They have a 28-year-old son together. For their second time around, Marie, 51, and Stephen, 54, were married in a private ceremony at the Las Vegas Mormon Temple. Osmond wore the same Ret Turner-designed wedding dress that she wore at the couple's first wedding. The newlyweds celebrated with a reception at their Nevada home. Wednesday's May 4th wedding date is significant to Osmond and Craig, a former professional basketball player and current motivational speaker, as it marks the birthdays of both Marie's late son, Michael, and her deceased mother. Olive.

While some couples were uniting, one high profile couple was breaking up. Arnold and Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger have separated after 25 years of marriage. The former governor of California and his wife, a member of the famous Kennedy family, have not announced any divorce plans. We like "happily ever after" stories, and hope the two, who have four children, can work out their differences.


Arnold & Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger

Happy 65th Birthday Clint Holmes

* * * * * * * *

Clint Holmes' wife, Kelly Clinton Holmes, hosted a surprise 65th birthday party to celebrate her entertainer husbands' milestone birthday. It was a special night, with a lot of local personalities showing up for the occasion. Not surprisingly, there was music...lots of music. Among those in attendance were Earl Turner, who performs next Friday and Saturday night in the Suncoast showroom; Billy Joel's musical director, Mark Rivera; Clint's longtime friend, guitarist Pat Hand; uber photographer, Jerry Metellus and wife, Heidi; Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular's, Tina Walsh; singer Tim Wells; Lannie Counts; drummer Brian Czach; Sylk, Satin & Lace; Bobby B. Wilson; Wendy Fleming; Dennis and Lorraine Hunt Bono; Clint's musical director, Jeff Neiman; Kelly's musical director, Mike Clark; her mother, Ellie Clinton; Pia Zadora; Cliff Workman; Bobby B. Wilson; Yvonne Silva; Pablo Perez; Tony Drake; Clint's singing sister, Gayle Steele, and his son, Cooper, many of whom performed. Many happy returns of the day, Clint.

* * * * * * * *

Christie Brinkley has taken over the role of Roxie Hart in Broadway's Chicago the Musical. The supermodel, and former wife of singer/songwriter Billy Joel, joins some cast members familiar to many Las Vegans - Leigh Zimmerman, who plays Velma Kelly; Brent Barrett, in the role of Billy Flynn; and Roz Ryan, as Matron Mama Morton. Leigh was Ulla in the Las Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers, during the year it was at Paris Las Vegas. Brent played the lead in The Venetian's Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular for two years, and Roz Ryan played the Matron in Chicago, during part of its Mandalay Bay run.


Christie Brinkley & Brent Barrett in Chicago

Dolores Fuller

* * * * * * * *

Join Mark Giovi, accompanied by LJ Harness from Cadillac of West Las Vegas on drums, in the Las Vegas Hilton's Tempo Lounge, tonight Friday the 13th, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The $10 cover charge includes one drink. The high-energy Tempo Lounge is the ultimate gathering place, featuring a splendid mix of '70s, '80s, '90s, and contemporary Top 40 hits, with sexy servers and perfect cocktails.

* * * * * * * *

Unfortunately, there is much sad news to report this week.
Dolores Fuller
, the muse of eccentric moviemaker, Ed Wood, died in Las Vegas on May 9th. She was 88. Sarah Jessica Parker (or as Fuller referred to her, "Sarah Jurassic Parker") portrayed Fuller in Tim Burton's 1994 film, Ed Wood. Johnny Depp played Wood, and Martin Landau won an Academy Award for his role as Bela Lugosi in the biopic. The Indiana-born actress, who was a former model, met Wood at a casting call while she was working as a stand-in for Dinah Shore on the entertainer's TV show in 1952. He cast her as his leading lady in 1953's Glen or Glenda, and the couple became lovers. They split in 1955, after Wood cast another actress as the lead in his Bride of the Monster film, and Fuller moved to New York to study under acting guru, Stella Adler. Fuller became known as a songwriter, co-writing Elvis Presley's "Rock-a- Hula Baby" for his 1961 movie, Blue Hawaii. She went on to write more hits for Presley films, including "I Got Lucky" for Kid Galahad," "Beyond the Bend" for It Happened at the World's Fair, "You Can't Say No In Acapulco" from Fun in Acapulco, "Barefoot Ballad" from Kissin' Cousins, "Big Love, Big Heartache" from Roustabout, "Do the Clam" from Girl Happy, "I'll Take Love" from Easy Come, Easy Go, "Have A Happy" from Change of Habit, and "Spinout" from the film of the same name. She also penned Nat King Cole's "Someone To Tell it To," and Peggy Lee's "Losers Weepers." Dolores Fuller also helped launch the musical careers of Johnny Rivers and Tanya Tucker. In August of 2009, we were fortunate to spend some time with Fuller at Montara Meadows where she was living with her husband, Philip Chamberlin. The retirement community, along with filmmaker Stan Armstrong, hosted a special event honoring the multi talented Ms. Fuller. The evening included the showing of a German-made documentary, followed by a Q&A period with, the still beautiful at 86, Dolores Fuller, holding court. A lovely buffet was provided by Joe LaVigna's Affairs Catering. LaVigna didn't just serve up delicious treats, he also served up some delicious music as well, singing an a cappella version of Artie Butler and the late Phyllis Molinary's beautiful, "Here's To Life," to a beaming Ms. Fuller. Her life was chronicled in her 2009 autobiography, A Fuller Life: Hollywood, Ed Wood and Me. Dolores is survived by her husband, Philip. Chamberlin is somewhat of a celebrity in his own right. His father worked with Charles Lindbergh. During his career, Phillip was the director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also started the film department at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


James Patrick Zaro

Marian Mercer

James Patrick Zaro, 61, passed away on April 27th, as the result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. He was born in Berkeley, California, and was a 35-year resident of Las Vegas. Jim performed on the Strip for many years, as both a lead singer at the Stardust, and as Caesar at Caesars Palace. He continued to work in the casino industry until his passing. He was also actively involved in both land and residential Real Estate investing and had a passion for golf. James graduated from the University of Montana in 1972 which he attended on a full ride swimming scholarship. While attending the University, he met his wife Janet, the mother of his twin daughters. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brother George. Jim is survived by his daughters Alexandra and Sasha, brother Paul, and sisters Georganne, Wendy, and Sharon. A memorial service for James Zaro was held at Palm Eastern Mortuary on May 6th.

Mark Steven Bennick, 56, passed away in Las Vegas on May 5th. The Anchorage, Alaska-native was a 46-year resident of Nevada. He was the loving husband of Susan Bennick; and loving father to daughter, Christian Danielle; and son, Mark Bennick II. Mr. Bennick served as road manager for his illusionist son, Mark II, while Susan is the young magicians' manager. A celebration of Mark's life was held yesterday at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Las Vegas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Broken Chains Ministry, 3368 Medina Court, Las Vegas, NV 89121. Our sympathies to the family.

Marian Mercer passed away on April 27th. The actress and singer, born in Akron, Ohio, made her Broadway debut in the chorus of the short-lived musical, Greenwillow in 1960. She drew critical notice for her performance in New Faces of 1962, and won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance, and the Theatre World Award, for her role in Promises, Promises (1968). Additional theatre credits include Hay Fever, and the short- lived 1978 revival of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off with Sammy Davis, Jr. Mercer was a regular on The Dom DeLuise Show, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters, The Sandy Duncan Show, The Andy Williams Show, and the sitcom, It's a Living, where she played the humorless restaurant hostess, Nancy Beebe. Mercer also had recurring roles on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, its sequel, Forever Fernwood, St. Elsewhere, and Empty Nest. She made guest appearances on such shows as Love, American Style, Archie Bunker's Place, Mama's Family, Benson, The Golden Girls, Murder, She Wrote, Touched by an Angel, and Suddenly Susan, among many others. She had a featured role in the 1979 television movie, The Cracker Factory, which starred Natalie Wood. Her screen credits include Nine to Five. Mercer was a resident of the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, until shortly before her death from Alzheimer's disease. Marian Mercer was 75.


Sada Thompson

Jackie Cooper

Emmy award-winning actress Sada Thompson died of lung disease on May 4th at the age of 83. Thompson was probably best known for her role as Kate Lawrence in the ABC TV drama, Family (1976- 1980), which also starred James Broderick (father of actor Matthew Broderick), Meredith Baxter, Kristy McNichol, Gary Frank, John Rubinstein (son of ), and Quinn Cummings. Thompson received four Emmy nominations for her portrayal of the level-headed matriarch of the Lawrence family, winning in 1978. She also received three Golden Globe nominations for the role. She was nominated for five other Emmys: in 1976 for Sandburg's Lincoln and a 1991 guest appearance on Cheers. After Family went off the air, Thompson played a variety of TV roles - usually mothers - in shows ranging from The Love Boat and Father Dowling Mysteries, to Law & Order. Thompson was nominated for several awards for the off-Broadway play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. She won a Tony for best actress in the 1972 play Twigs. Her last movie role was playing Stella Pollock in Pollock, the 2000 biopic on artist Jackson Pollock.

Jackie Cooper, the first child actor to receive an Academy Award-nomination, died on May 3rd of natural causes. He was 88. At the age of nine, Cooper was the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role - an honor that he earned for the 1931 film, Skippy. For almost half a century, Cooper remained the youngest Oscar-nominee in any category, until he was surpassed by eight- year-old Justin Henry's nomination in the Supporting Actor category for the youngsters' role in 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer. As an adult, Cooper went on to star in two popular television sitcoms, NBC's The People's Choice, and CBS's, Hennesey. In the '50s, he guest starred on a number of TV shows, including the legal drama, Justice, and later The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and Tennessee Ernie Ford's show. From 1964 to 1969, Cooper was vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems TV division, where he was involved with Bewitched and Gidget, starring Sally Field. In the 1970s, Cooper did some occasional acting work, but mostly devoted his time to directing. His work as director on episodes of M*A*S*H and The White Shadow earned Cooper Emmy Awards. He found renewed fame playing Daily Planet editor Perry White in the Superman film series, starring the late Christopher Reeve.
Cooper's final film role was as Ace Morgan in the 1987 film Surrender.

Arthur Laurents died in New York on May 5th of pneumonia complications. He was 93. Laurents was an accomplished director during a more than 70-year career that began with radio plays in college and continued through the 2009 Main Stem revival of West Side Story. He won Tony Awards as author of the book for best musical Hallelujah, Baby! in 1968, and best director (musical) for La Cage aux Folles in 1984. He was best known in Hollywood for his acclaimed scripts for The Way We Were (1973), which featured the romantic chemistry of its characters as played by Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, and 1977's Turning Point (which he also produced), starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. He earned best picture and original screenplay Oscar nominations and a WGA Award for Turning Point. During the early 1950s, Laurents began work on a contemporary musical based on Romeo and Juliet with Leonard Bernstein. Stephen Sondheim was signed to write the lyrics, and West Side Story became a sizzling, gigantic hit when it opened in 1957. Laurents was widely praised for his book for the project, including a rave from The New York Times that called his contribution "the essential one." He shared a Tony-nomination for best musical for the production. Following a successful two-year run on Broadway, the musical was adapted into a film and won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. Laurents went on to collaborate with Sondheim and Jule Styne on Gypsy (1959), which starred Ethel Merman. He went on to direct 1962's I Can Get It for You Wholesale, which marked Streisand's Broadway debut as an overworked, unsung secretary, and 1991's Nick & Nora. His play, The Time of the Cuckoo, which starred Shirley Booth, was a hit and served as the basis of the 1955 motion picture Summertime, starring Katharine Hepburn. Laurents divided his talent between movies and the stage during the 1950s. He wrote the movie adaptation of Rope (1948) for Alfred Hitchcock, and screenplays for Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse (1958) and Anastasia (1956), starring Ingrid Bergman. He also wrote such Broadway plays as The Bird Cage (1950), A Clearing in the Woods (1957) and Invitation to a March (1960) and the books for Main Stem musicals including Anyone Can Whistle (1964) and Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965). More offbeat, Laurents wrote The Enclave, which opened in Boston in 1973. Its plot centered on a New York housing unit that has its liberal sensibilities challenged by a gay tenant and his lover. Laurents was predeceased by his partner of more than 50 years, Tom Hatcher.


Arthur Laurents

Dana Wynter

Dana Wynter, best known for her role in the 1956 science-fiction classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Ojai Valley Community Hospital's Continuing Care Center. She was 79. Wynter portrayed Becky Driscoll, the love interest of Kevin McCarthy's Dr. Miles Bennell in Body Snatchers, director Don Siegel's tale of a small town whose residents were being replaced by emotionless duplicates grown in pods. McCarthy died in September. Wynter, who was born in Germany and raised in England and South Africa, also worked in the films Shake Hands With the Devil(1959) with James Cagney, Sink the Bismarck! (1960) and Airport (1970). On TV, she appeared in Robert Montgomery Presents and Playhouse 90 in the 1950s, starred with Robert Lansing in the 1966-67 ABC series The Man Who Never Was, and guest-starred on such shows as Cannon, The Rockford Files, Hart to Hart and Magnum, P.I. Wynter wrote the 2005 book, Other People, Other Places: Memories of Four Continents, and was an animal-rights advocate. She is survived by her son, Mark Bautzer.

* * * * * * * *

This Monday, May 16th, is the next meeting of the Las Vegas Media Group. Lisa Gioia-Acres reports that they have a really interesting presentation. John Cushman, of Ghost Town Operations, will be on hand to share his (and his team's) paranormal experiences! The Media Group meets at The Wedding Room, 3601 West Sahara, on the southeast corner of Valley View. If you know where the Gallery of History is (was?) located and/or The Cellar, then you know where it is; Mariana's Grocery Store on one side and Kaplan College on the other. There is a handicap entrance through the alley between the college and The Wedding Room. Cost of the buffet luncheon is $15, plus a dollar or two for the wonderful server. Please RSVP to Lisa at (702) 245-9206, if you are planning to attend. The phone number for any questions, or directions to The Wedding Room, is (702) 362-6712. If you are interested in Las Vegas history, and the folks who made that history, we urge you to check out this friendly and interesting bunch.

* * * * * * * *

At 7:30, next Friday night, May 20th, it's dueling pianos, with Hudson & Saleeby who are returning to Miss Ollie's in Jackson, Tennessee. This performance is a fundraiser for the Jackson Downtown Development Corporation, and is sponsored by Lewis Cobb, of Spragins, Barnett, and Cobb. It's expected to be a sellout. Miss Ollie's is one swanky establishment, with comfy seating, live music, purple felted pool tables, and the only dance floor in downtown Jackson. Tickets are $15 each, and all seats are reserved. Seating is limited to 120 people, so if you are in the hood, and want to check out Chris and Doug and Miss Ollie's, don't delay. The club is at 111 E. Lafayette Street. For additional information, call (731) 868-1120. Regular hours are, Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 5 to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

* * * * * * * *

Yesterday's turnout for the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) group was very impressive. In fact, it might be the largest daytime meeting that the non-club club has ever held. It might even be the largest get-together that any local independent (and this group of fun- seekers are very independent) bunch, has held in some time. Next week, we will name drop (quite a number of VIPs were in attendance) and share photos. Event organizer, Nelson Sardelli, and the rest of the presidents (all the male members are presidents) do a fine job in getting the word out and providing programs that interest the masses. Of course, the numbers tend to go up when the ladies are invited to participate, which, it happens, they were for the May meeting. The gatherings take place at the Italian American Social Club at 2330 E. Sahara, on the second Thursday of the month. A delicious lunch buffet starts at 11:30 a.m., for the reasonable price of $20 (only American dollars are accepted) a person. Camaraderie, fun, food, entertainment, raffles and prizes, and, sometimes, even valuable information, permeate the room. We will have details about yesterdays' gathering, plus a photo or two, next Friday. Next month's meeting will take place on Thursday, June 9th. The guest speaker will be Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff, Douglas Gillespie. For more information about F.I.O.R.E., contact [email protected] or [email protected].

* * * * * * * *

Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE), Las Vegas' famed Fremont Street Experience and the celebrated tribute artist production, Legends in Concert, presented the Second Annual Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest last weekend. Twenty-one competitors from across the country participated in the contest. Guest judges determining the 'best representation of the Elvis legacy,' and on Saturday, after the field was narrowed to 10, a champion was crowned 'King." Johnny Fortuno, a resident of Las Vegas (originally from Honolulu) won $2,500 cash and a Graceland Getaway prize package. Most importantly, Fortuno now qualifies to compete in the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, Tennessee, during Elvis Week, August 10th through 16th. Last year, the Las Vegas winner, Justin Shandor, took first place in the national competition in Memphis. The Memphis contest attracted more than 70,000 fans last year. The winner of the contest will be offered the opportunity to sign a performance contract with Legends in Concert, receive $20,000 in cash, recognition by EPE as the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist of 2011 and a selection of other valuable prizes.
Photo by Larry Burton Photography


Johnny Fortuno, 2011 Elvis Tribute Artist Winner

The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies

* * * * * * * *

Are you an old gypsy? A real trouper? Are you over 55? The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies is seeking talented male and female professionals, 55 and older (especially dancers over 75). Auditions are taking place for male and female singers and dancers, with singers scheduled for Saturday, May 21st, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (760) 778-7654, or fax to (760) 322-3196. Open call for dancers is at 2 p.m. on May 21st, with possible callbacks on Sunday, May 22nd. Auditions will take place in Palm Springs, at The Historic Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive. All ages will audition together. Minorities are encouraged. Nevada wages are paid, and accommodations provided. The season runs from mid- August through May. To learn more about the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, check www.psfollies.com.

* * * * * * * *

Four individuals from Opportunity Village, an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, have been cast to portray Winkies, soldiers for the Wicked Witch of the West's army, in the upcoming May production of The Wizard of Oz at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway. The group was hand-selected by the play's director, Dan Decker, from a class of 20 people. Opportunity Village partnered with the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, the local theatre ensemble presenting The Wizard of Oz, to teach workshops for its theatre course, the latest addition to its performing arts program. For weeks, the 20-member group participated in several classes, discovering the art of musical theatre, set design and acting. At the conclusion, individuals were offered supporting roles in The Wizard of Oz. Opportunity Village created the theatre curriculum to attract those who wanted to explore the excitement of drama. Through vocational training, community employment, advocacy, as well as arts and social recreation like the theatre program, people with disabilities are able to create relationships with new friends, realize future career paths and seek independence. Fans will have the chance to see the Winkies, along with the flying monkeys, evil apple trees, Wicked Witch of the West and their arch rivals, Dorothy and friends, live, on-stage at the Henderson Pavilion, this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 15th, at 4 p.m.; Saturday, the 21st, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, the 22nd, at 4 p.m. Tickets are only $10. For more information, or to purchase tickets for The Wizard of Oz, visit HendersonLive.com, call (702) 267-4TIX (4849) or visit the Henderson Pavilion Box Office, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

And, also happening at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway...
Next Friday, May 20th, the Henderson Symphony Orchestra will entertain audiences with an evening of light-hearted classics to wrap up its 2010-2011 season. Show time is at 8 p.m., and admission in complimentary. Since opening in 2002, the Henderson Pavilion has hosted a variety of events including rock, jazz and classical music performances, as well as full-scale, off-Broadway shows, musicals, ballets and comedy acts. Over the years, the outdoor amphitheatre has produced a number of sold-out concerts and events, including Nickelodeon's Drake Bell, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Paramore and The Nutcracker.

The City of Henderson supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Advanced notice may be necessary to ensure that appropriate accommodations will be provided. For full telephone, use Relay Nevada by dialing 7-1-1. The Henderson Pavilion, Henderson Convention Center and Henderson Events Plaza are all managed by the Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism. For additional information on City of Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism programs and entertainment, please contact (702) 267- 2171. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Opportunity Village is a Las Vegas-based, not-for-profit organization that has been serving people with intellectual disabilities since 1954 in an effort to enhance their lives and the lives of their families. Clients at Opportunity Village receive vocational training, social skills, community job placement, art & life skill enrichment, respite and day habilitation at three Las Vegas campuses. More than 1,700 people are served daily. The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company is the Vegas Valley's home town Shakespeare theatre, a resident, professional repertory company that presents classic and contemporary live entertainment. With its broad knowledge and expertise, LVSC applies modern storytelling techniques to Shakespeare to create contemporary visions of the classic plays - while at the same time honoring the original texts. LVSC also mounts large-scale musicals to round out its yearly offerings. LVSC works with the Clark County Schools to offer educational outreach year round.

* * * * * * * *

Anyone who wants to take one last look at the Sahara, as we know it today, had better move fast. The historic property closes on Monday, May 16th. Goodbye old girl.



Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE


     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:
   

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye