This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Wayne Newton's first Las Vegas, Nevada performance.
A quick story about Sinatra. A contemporary of his, another singer, brought his new album to Frank one night and said, "Frank, when you get some time, I want you to listen and tell me what's wrong with it." Frank said, "I can tell you before I listen." Frank wouldn't hurt people by being mean-spirited, but if you ask him, be prepared for his answer. The guy said, "What?" And Frank said, "Some singers are connected between the throat and the heart, which is the way it should be. You're not connected anywhere." This was probably 1984 or so, and Frank had just had it with bullshit. Everybody reaches that point eventually.
In the late 1970s, I made a bid to buy the Aladdin. And someone started the rumor that I had the backing of the Mafia. Those were the days that if you had your picture taken with somebody who was undesirable in the gaming industry, then of course you were guilty by association. That wasn't a problem for me, 'cause I was a guy from Virginia, half Native American, half German and Irish, so my background totally precluded me having any involvement with the Mafia. I was sitting in my TV room when the first report came on NBC News. My mother left the room in tears. And I was livid. Your first thought is, Where did they come up with this crap? Over a period of nine months, there were three broadcasts. One rumor was that Wayne Newton was going to be the star witness against the Mafia in Rhode Island or Connecticut. So my life is in danger. All of a sudden I get a call from Frank Sinatra, and he said, "Kid, just keep your nose clean and let us see if we can find out what this is all about." About three weeks later, I get a call from an FBI agent, and he said, "Your name has been removed from the hit list, go home." It took me seven years, but I won that lawsuit against NBC. Frank never mentioned it again.
Another quick story about Frank. He was working a place in Philadelphia, and one night the place was packed and young girls were screaming. I would later work at the same place, and the owner told me that it was a rainy night and Frank was late. It was a two-story building, and he walked out onto the porch above the alley to see if Sinatra was on his way. He said, "Right then, I see Frank jump out of a cab and run like hell down the alley, and when he got a hundred feet from the stage door, he stopped, took off his coat, hung it over his shoulder, straightened his hat, and slowly walked in." Now that's a picture worth remembering.
Thanks to Mark Warren
Thursday, January 01, 2009
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