An insider’s view of show business
Orllyene was the VIP Travel Coordinator and I was Manager of Entertainment Operations at Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City. It was her job to hire a limo and driver, and bring folks like Gene Kelly, Diana Ross, Cher and Bill Cosby from Philadelphia to A.C. Out of all the singers who perform at Resorts, Clint Holmes was the most passionate. It’s a true fact. He tore up the stage every night
Clint’s mother was an English opera singer, his dad an African-American jazz musician. His song list was contemporary, but the spirit came through him like a bolt of lightning, and I don’t me the “hell/fire/damnation kind either. It was pure joy. I always felt like I was in church when I saw one of Clint’s shows. He held the mic in a death grip, his body poised ready to spring, and this great sound came pouring out.
Luciano Pavarotti played at Resorts as well. It took 3 performances in a gigantic circus tent to satisfy the ticket demand. There is a quality in powerful voices that triggers a spiritual feeling in us. Another time, Orllyene and I were in the audience when Pavarotti and Dame Joan Sutherland sang toe to toe. Heavenly is the only adjective to define the performance. Great voices are as rare as diamonds in a tray of costume jewelry.
Fast forward. Dodger Stadium, 1994; The Three Tenors. The night is cool, a hint of dampness in the air. The infield is covered with chairs, the balconies choked with people. Orllyene is making sure Frank Sinatra isn’t bothered by autograph hunters, and seeing that Bob and Dolores Hope are comfortable. I hold roll call for graduate music students from USC, who will be ushers for the VIP section.
An outdoor stage the size of Orange County comes alive when Zubin Mehta taps his baton on the podium. Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo fill the night with gem after gem. History is in the making.
Greatness comes in bunches about as often as politicians say nice things about each other. “Singing in the Rain” is sung; Gene Kelly stands, the spotlight hits him and he receives an ovation of love from everyone, including the tenors.
Time to make my move. A gala party is planned for several hundred VIP guests in a huge tent back behind the Stadium. No expense is spared. I hear a score of encores being given back in the stadium. Moments later, I see a solitary figure sitting alone by himself at a card table. I ask a security guard, “Is that Bob Hope?” He says “He’s waiting to see Placido Domingo.
I gather up my courage, and venture over; “May I join you Mr. Hope?” He answers yes. I ask him about playing the Paramount Theatre on Broadway; he says that in ’43 he broke the attendance record.
The chat with Mr. Hope makes my night absolutely perfect, that is until I notice one of our music students won’t allow one of the VIPs into the Gala Tent. It’s seems the guest doesn’t have the proper ID. It’s Gregory Peck. Time to get back to work.
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org