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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from August 17, 2012
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - August 17, 2012

Babe Pier 1930-2012

Babe Pier & Forrest Duke

Last Friday, friends joined Cindy Raft Pier, as she mourned her husband, comic impressionist Babe Pier, in an afternoon service at Palm Mortuary in downtown Las Vegas. Babe passed away on July 31st at the age of 82. Officiating was family friend, Jean-Claude Chevalme. Among those who spoke were Babe's brother, Rollie Pier. Nelson Sardelli read a proclamation from Mayor Carolyn Goodman, declaring August 10th Babe Pier Day in Las Vegas, while Peter Anthony read something touching, written by Floridian, Carme Pitrello (see below), who could not be here for the memorial. People from all segments of the community turned out to say goodbye to Pier, a much beloved entertainer. Among those that we recognized in attendance were members of the F.I.O.R.E. group, in which Babe was a President, Linda November, Artie Schroeck, Judy Coco, Greg Bosler, Joe Locatelli, Jay Orlando, Maynard Sloate, Jerry Kurland and Margie, Donny Lee Moore and Susan, Bill Acosta, Jeanne Bavaro, Linda Lashever, Arlene Gibson, Lou Toomin, Marty Allen, Kid Cary DeGrosa and Sophie Merle, Norm Johnson, Brenda Weems, Don and Gloria Hill, Robert Ensler, Mike Tramontana, Corky DiFini, Adele Zorn, Jim Marsh, Robert Allen, Jac Hayden, Dr. J.D. Smith, Peer Marini and Cheryl, Steve Golden, Mimi Hines, Kathleen Dunbar, Bruce Mickelson, Ray Borders, and Mike Schaefer. Following the service, the Italian American Club's, Angelo Cassaro, generously invited the attendees over to the East Sahara social club, as his guests, for some food and drink and sharing more memories of Babe.

The following is the eulogy, as mentioned above, provided by Carme...
Babe you didn't make the bell for the tenth round. The referee counted you out here on earth. When the ref reached the number ten, your soul left us to go to a better place. A place called Holy Wood, where all your show biz friends have been waiting for you. It seems they needed a short stop for the Vegas Silver Sluggers. What a team, Babe! The Treniers and Eddie Peddie in the outfield, Freddie Bell on first, Sonny King on second, Sweet Louie on third, Billy Kay pitching, and Bernie Allen catching. In the dugout, The Vagabonds and The Novelties. And, in the press box our very own Frankie Dee. Your love for boxing has paid off. You get to spar with Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Rocky Graziano and the other champions. And Babe, you get to wear Golden Gloves. I am going to miss you, my friend. You gave me years of laughs. Your impressions were right on. Your Lawrence Welk used to kill me. And you were the only one who could do Spencer Tracy and look like him! Babe you were the best. Our loss is heavens gain. One day we will all join you and our friends. Then the old Las Vegas gang will be together again for eternity. So I won't say goodbye...I'll just say, I'll be seeing you.

For at least three of Babe's longtime friends - Marty Allen, Nelson Sardelli and Lou Toomin - the celebration of the funny man's life continued into the evening. The day long toast, in memory of the popular comic, wound up with dinner at Morton's. The whipped cream, on top of a shared dessert of Key Lime pie, wound up as "makeup" on the face of Marty Allen, giving the gents some laughs. We have a feeling that Mr. Pier would have approved of the fact that, even in another life, he is still generating smiles and fun.

Marty Allen by Lou Toomin

Neil Diamond Receives Star

The following letter was sent to Nelson Sardelli by Babe's wife, Cindy Raft-Pier...
No words could ever express my appreciation along with my feelings for what you have done for Babe and myself ! I know how hard it must have been for you under the circumstances with your recent loss! It's so hard for me to have the desire to go on without Babe! Babe would be so thankful to you for everything that you have done to help me. Babe looked upon you as a brother/ family member. Also To Everyone... Until I am able to personally respond to each one of you...... Thank you ALL so very much, for all your support help. Having no living family on earth.... I needed you all so very much. Married to Babe for over half my life .. life feels so empty now and seems so unimportant with out Babe making me laugh etc... All your hugs and love helped me so very much!!! Please everyone ...Pray for me for strength and guidance. I need that so much! Thank you all so very much. Please keep in touch with me. I will need all of you now ~

Love you Nelson, Love & Appreciation to you All !
Cindy Email: [email protected] Cindy Cell: (702) 217-2225

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Last week's Composers Showcase created a lot of mixed feelings. As usual, there was lots of talent displayed by talented songwriters, singers and musicians. What made the latest edition of the monthly showcase most unique, was the fact it featured many of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular for the last time. The production will end its more than six year run on September 2nd. Some of the actors will remain in Las Vegas, but most will go on to new roles in new places. We will miss our friends.

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Last Friday night, Neil Diamond was honored with a star on the famed Hollywood Walk of Stars. At the same time, Diamond tribute artist, Rob Garrett, was doing his third Hot August Night show at the Cannery in North Las Vegas. The practically sold out Club performance featured special surprise guests, singer Mark Giovi and drummer LJ Harness. And a good time was had by all.

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Illusionist Mark Bennick will be filling in for Murray SawChuck at the Tropicana's Laugh Factory, August 18th through 30th, while Murray: Celebrity Magician is on tour in Tahiti. Bennick, star of his own shows, Impossible the Magic Show and Revealed, the Magic Isn't the Girls Are, will be joined by Chloe, Murray's assistant (and new wife), and dancers Tracy and Nicki. Mark's special guest will be Douglas "Lefty" Leferovich, performing his signature card manipulation routine. Shows are at 7 p.m., dark on Fridays. Phone (702) 739-2411.

Mark Bennick, Chloe & Doug "Lefty" Leferovich

Vintage Clint Carvalho by R. Scott Hooper

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After, in our opinion, way too much Olympics, regular programming returned to NBC on Monday. Tuesday night, America's Got Talent was back. We are never surprised to see Las Vegas represented on the show. This week, the familiar face belonged to longtime Las Vegan Clint Carvalho and his Extreme Parrots act. Clint called out to his cockatoo, Kitten, who was on the roof of a nearby building, to fly in to the theater. "Here, Kitty, Kitty!," called Carvalho, and Kitten came flying. The judges - Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel - loved it. Carvalho, the Academy of Villains dance company, singer Bria Kelly, and The Magic of Puck will now compete for America's Got Talent top prize.

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Looks like the $470 million Smith Center has decided to correct a problem that was called to the attention of the art center's CEO, Myron Martin, four months ago. We would hope that customer safety would be of utmost importance at the facility, yet, during our first visit to the center in April, when we realized that there were no curb cuts for an entire block in front of the main building (only one at the beginning of the long block, and one at the end), we contacted Mr. Martin to point out what we felt was an accident waiting to happen. Instead of Mr. Martin suggesting he would look at the situation, he told us that all of the building plans had been approved by the appropriate agencies, letting us know that Martin did not see the problem. Obviously, something has changed. When we were at the Smith Center last week, surprise. Some construction was going on in front of the building. What is happening? Curb cuts on both side of Symphony Park - in the middle of the block, in front of the Reynolds Hall and Boman Pavilion, and across the street in front of the lovely park. We don't know who should get the credit, but whoever it is, thanks for making the much needed changes.

The Smith Center Under Construction...AGAIN

Ron Palillo

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Actor Ron Palillo, best known as the nerdy high school student Arnold Horshack on the 1970s sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter, died Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was 63. Palillo suffered an apparent heart attack at his home. Palillo played the Horshack character from 1975 to 1979 on Kotter. He joined fellow actors, John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino), Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington, as Brooklyn high school students, known as Sweathogs, in the series. Gabe Kaplan portrayed their teacher, Mr. Kotter. Horshack was the nasally teen who yelped, "Oooh, oooh," as his hand shot skyward when the teacher posed a question. Palillo was born April 2nd, 1949, in Cheshire, Connecticut. His father died of lung cancer when he was 10 and he developed a stutter. His mother thought getting him involved in a local theater might help. He fell in love with the stage. He attended the University of Connecticut and earned parts in Shakespearean productions before his big break. We had the opportunity to meet Ron Palillo when he headlined at the Riviera Comedy Club here a number of years ago. He was very warm and friendly, autographing t-shirts with his Horshack character on the front. Palillo is survived by his partner of 41 years, Joseph Gramm, a retired actor.

Ron Palillo was the second Sweathog to pass away this year. Robert Hegyes died in January at age 60.

Robert Hegyes

Earnie Shavers

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The Las Vegas Media Group's Lisa Gioia Acres is enjoying the cool weather and an ocean view from Big Sur, California, but informs that she will be back home in time for Monday's meeting. According to Media Group member, Thalia Dondero, this month's guest may be former boxer, Earnie Shavers, who fought Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton during his professional career. The luncheons take place 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 The Wedding Room 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. The phone number for any questions or directions is (702) 362-6712. There is a speaker that is sure to please everyone. Lunch is $17, and the food is great! RSVPs are required. Contact Lisa at (702) 245-9206, or email to [email protected] By the way, you don't have to be a member of the media to attend. Anyone interested in Southern Nevada history is welcome to join the group.

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Star Trek legend, and Penn Jillette's fellow Celebrity Apprentice competitor, actor George Takei, checked out Penn & Teller's show at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas last Sunday, August 12th, after joining Penn for the taping of his weekly podcast backstage. Also seen at the show on Saturday evening, was Oscar-nominated actress, Virginia Madsen (Sideways). As mentioned in an earlier column, George Takei and Lea Salonga will costar in Allegiance - A New American Musical at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, from September 7th through October 21st. Also featured in the musical, set during the Japanese American internment of World War II, is actor Scott Watanabe, who had been a cast member of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular for the past five years. Phantom ends its six year run on September 2nd.
Photo of Penn Jillette and George Takei courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

Penn Jillette & George Takei

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

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Country music power couple, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, are heading to Las Vegas. They will be doing a 10-weekend run of shows at The Venetian, starting December 7th. The show is called Soul2Soul, named after their hugely successful co-headlining tours in 2000 and 2006. The Vegas shows will mark the first time in six years that McGraw and Hill have performed a full concert together in the United States. They have sold more than 70 million albums and charted more than 40 No. 1 hits between them. Early in her career, Hill sang "Let's Go to Vegas." Later this year, she and her superstar husband will do just that...go to Vegas. "This will be a moment in time in our careers," McGraw, 45, said of the Soul2Soul series, which will feature 40 shows in the 1,800-seat theater that was built for Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, through April of next year. The deal, in the works for over a year, calls for only weekend shows to make things easier for McGraw and Hill's daughters, Gracie, 15; Maggie, 13; and Audrey, 10, who all attend school in Nashville. "We will be parachuting in and out of the city," Hill, 44, says. "Our children are pretty thrilled for us though." McGraw agreed, saying their teenage daughter Gracie, "is hell on the poker tables." Show dates for Soul2Soul are: December 7-8, 14-15; January 18-19, 25-26; February 1-2, 15-16 and 22-23; March 1-2; and April 12-13, 26-27. Tickets are on sale now, with prices running from $95.50 to $295.50 (VIP packages are higher).

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Kid Creole

Robert Redford

Happy birthday, LEO celebrants (July 23-Aug. 22)...Will Collins, Larry Manetti, Charisma Carpenter, Gallagher, Lynda Carter, Kristin Chenoweth, Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Mick Jagger, Dorothy Hamill, Kevin Spacey, Jerry Van Dyke, Peggy Fleming, Bobbie Gentry, Maureen McGovern, Bill Engvall, Sally Struthers, Kevin Spirtas, Martina McBride, Paul Anka, David Sanborn, Gary Lewis, Robert Allen, Jennifer Lopez, Tony Bennett, Catherine Hicks, Faith Prince, Patti Austin, Ronnie Spector, B.J. Thomas, Lana Cantrell, Raul Malo, Mel Tillis, Connie Stevens, Kid Creole (August Darnell), George Hamilton, Buddy Greco, David Crosby, Steve Martin, Antonio Fargas, Sarah Brightman, Jimmy Webb, Eydie Gorme, Madonna, Denis Leary, Robert Redford, Elayne Boosler, LeAnn Womak, Kenny Rogers, Sandi Davis, Rod Russell, Woody Woods, Cynthia Robins, Donna Booth Koger, Kathy Proctor, Angelo Tolentino, Taj Jackson, Judy Thorburn, Taryll Adren Jackson, Sally Porter Coombs, Elizabeth Foyt, Martin Kreloff, Spencer Baker, Giovanna Sardelli, Perry Palmer, and Lou Toomin.

And anniversary greetings to Jim Semmelman and Ray Disco, and Marlon and Carol Jackson.

Vintage Eydie Gorme

Keith Thompson

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In the more than six years that Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular has been in town, the cast and crew have made the Las Vegas Valley home by giving back - serving our neighbors in need in many ways. One more time, before Phantom leaves Las Vegas, members of the cast, along with performers from Jersey Boys, Vegas! The Show, Surf the Musical, Tony n' Tina's Wedding, and Menopause The Musical, will perform an encore presentation of Keith Thompson's musical, God Lives in Glass. This concert will benefit Family Promise Of Las Vegas and the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. God Lives in Glass will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, August 25th and 26th at the Judy Bayley Theatre on the UNLV Campus. God Lives in Glass, "Reflections of God as seen through the Eyes of Children," is a theatrical musical in concert, with Book and Lyrics by Robert Landy, Ph.D., and Music and Additional Lyrics by Thompson. "A powerful and astonishing work...will blow you away... Thompson's score is a revelation...provocative, original, and-quite simply-amazing!" says David Hurst, NY Theatre Critic, in NEXT Magazine. The production will feature pianist Philip Fortenberry and a cast of 45 singers, 10 Dancers, 13 Musicians, members of the UNLV Theatre and Music Departments, plus other special guest artists. Admission is $25. Senior and student discounts are available at the UNLV box office, going to, or by calling (702) 895-2787.

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We received a note from entertainer Lou Garcia, sharing his memories of the late Marvin Hamlisch who died on August 6th at the age of 68. Lou tells us that he had the great pleasure of working with Marvin Hamlisch in 1969, in the industrial show called Coca Cola "Tune of the Time," in Atlanta, Georgia. "It was a very expensive industrial featuring a story line, many production numbers, a large cast and speakers, says Lou. "The theme of the show was based on the new and exciting changes in the Coca Cola industry, which included a new jingle and the exciting and vibrant red color of the Coca Cola cans. Don Pippin was the musical conductor. Marvin and Don were not only excellent in their individual professions, but they were just as excellent in making every member of the cast feel on top of the world.

Marvin Hamlisch

Lou Garcia by Edwin Flacks

The Coca Cola opening production number was fantastic and I asked Marvin for permission to use it in my night club act in the Catskills and other venues. He could not have been nicer, not only did he give me his permission, he also invited me to his office so that he could make the song workable for one individual, since it was designed for the entire cast in the Coca Cola industrial. To have worked with this generous and talented man will forever be a treasure in my life. I learned so much from the great Marvin Hamlisch, a truly remarkable human being who enthusiastically enjoyed sharing his knowledge and talent with others." Thank you for letting us share your experience with our readers, Lou.

On August 22nd, Mr. Garcia, along with Wes Winters and, a name from the past, Dondino, will perform at the Ms Senior Nevada Pageant.

And, while still on the subject of Marvin Hamlisch, it was announced today that Michael Feinstein has been named the new lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops. He will succeed Hamlisch, who died unexpectedly on August 6th.

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Spectrum and Radiance will be performing, Saturday, August 25th at 7 p.m. in the Cabaret Jazz club at The Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas. This is a rare joint appearance by these two fine groups who perform the best of Motown. Radiance presents songs by the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves, The Marvellettes, and Donna Summer among others, while Spectrum performs the hits of the Temptations, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, the Spinners and others. Together, the groups do hits from the 5th Dimension, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and more. Tickets are $33. Phone The Smith Center at (702) 749-2012.

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Domenic Capaldi/Nick Allen

The Allen Family - Nick, Heather & Domenick

Condolences to the family of Las Vegas resident, entertainer Domenick Allen on the passing yesterday of his father who bears the same name. Domenic Capaldi, who was professionally known as Nick Allen, passed away peacefully on Thursday August 16 at 6:10am in Fort Lauderdale, FL, after a wonderful 86 years of life. He is survived by Heather, his beloved wife of 60 years, son Domenick Allen Capaldi, daughter-in-law Leigh Zimmerman Capaldi, granddaughter Cayleigh Capaldi, and his dog Sandy. He was pre-deceased by Domenico Capaldi and Maria Venditella-Capaldi, his Mother and Father; sisters Nettie, Winnie and Frances; and brothers Tony and Charlie. Born in Scotland on July 5, 1926, Nick embarked on a lifetime of music, becoming a virtuoso on the accordion. He was tenacious, compassionate, stubborn, resourceful, kindhearted, and resilient. He re-invented himself many times during his life, and at various stages he was a Restaurateur (in the Sahara Hotel in Miami Beach), Cruise Director (on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line‘s Nordic Prince), and as half of Nick & Heather Allen - The Scotties, the successful music and comedy act he formed with his wife. They performed for 60 years together, in theaters, nightclubs and lounges all over the world, to great acclaim. Nick‘s love of music, technique, chord conception and style, remained undiminished during his later years, and he spent many hours every day playing keyboard. He was a loving Husband, Partner, Father, Grandfather, and his family‘s Patriarch. The family deeply appreciates the medical care Nick received during his recent two month stay at Palmetto General Hospital, from all the highly skilled Nurses and Doctors, especially Doctors Roberto Comperatore, Nuria Lawson, Victor Pazos, Patrick Romeus, and Hilda Morales. A Visitation and Celebration of his life will be held at Scarano Funeral Home, 9000 Pines Boulevard, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024 on Monday, August 20, from 5pm to 9pm. Interment will be at Hollywood Memorial Gardens, 6301 Taft Street, Hollywood, FL 33024 on Tuesday, August 21 at 11am. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Domenic Capaldi's name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at

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