Mixed Memories of Old Vegas

“There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada… made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on, he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GIs on the way to the West Coast. That kid’s name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn’t even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn’t angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So, when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen; I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!”

 I walk in and the sign says “Headlining: Shecky Greene.” I see there is a line waiting from the front of the place to the back of the place. And I start to cry. Literally cry.

I said, “I never knew the love and dedication of that audience.” I say to my wife, “Look at all these people waiting. It’s wonderful.”

We get to the front; it was the buffet line! From that point on I had them put “Shecky Greene $19.95 with baked potato” on the marquee, because the buffet did better than I did.

“And there was no one, ever, in the history of show business, that did the business that this man did from midnight until 6 in the morning.  You could not get into that club. That was really of the biggest thing that happened in Vegas.”  “It created people like Shecky Green.  All the lounge acts started with Louis Prima.”

“Prima, Smith, Butera and the Witnesses kept the joint jumping all night long.”

“We were the hottest act in the world.” Remembered Butera.  “People like Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker would be there, 5:00 in the morning, just to watch this act.”

“Performing five shows a night, three half hour shows and two forty-five shows, Prima brought his raucous New Orleans style of entertainment to Las Vegas and it mad not only them famous, but the Sahara became the late-night place to be.”

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Twitter.com/WineRaconteur Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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