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Transcript of interview with Stan Irwin by Cork Proctor, October 24, 2003


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Stan Irwin shares details of his background, family, and early show business experiences. His life story spans many decades and includes attending NYU, doing stand-up comedy, flying during WWII, working at Club Bingo in Las Vegas, and building up the entertainment at the Sahara Hotel. Mr. Irwin comments on many aspects of the Las Vegas entertainment scene. He recalls many headliners that he worked with and shares anecdotes about several. The Beatles, Johnny Carson, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, Lena Home, and Pearl Bailey are just a few of the many outstanding performers that he brought to Las Vegas. Stan offers comments on racism in Las Vegas thirty and forty years ago, and gives his opinions on the Mob, Howard Hughes, prostitution, and dress codes in the fifties and sixties, among other things. He recalls how Las Vegas looked in the early days, mentions a cardiovascular health project for children that he's involved with today, and gives a little insight into staying fit at eighty-plus.

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[Transcript of interview with Stan Irwin by Cork Proctor, October 24, 2003]. Irwin, Stan Interview, 2003 October 24. OH-02437. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Stan Irwin An Oral History Conducted by Cork Proctor All That Jazz Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©All That Jazz Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2009 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Directory: Claytee D. White Editor: Gloria Homol Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Lisa Gioria-Acres, Joyce Moore, Emily Powers, Claytee D. White ii These recorded interviews and transcripts have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Boyer Foundation. The Oral History Research Center enabled students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. Participants in the All That Jazz Oral History Project thank the university for the support given that allowed the idea of researching the history of musicians who played in bands and orchestras behind great performers on the entertainment stages of Las Vegas the opportunity to flourish. All transcripts received minimal editing that included the elimination of fragments, false starts and repetitions in order to enhance the researcher's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases, photographic images accompany the collection and have been included in the bound edition of the interview. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University of Nevada Las Vegas - University Libraries iii ? I Table of Contents Background on Stan Irwin: birthplace, family heritage, early show business influences; writing material with Mad Jack (later Rodney Dangerfield) and Joey Bishop; working senior shows, Joey Adams Amateur Hours, and bussing tables in order to attend NYU; career on hold during WWII; after military stint, moved to Philadelphia, then Chicago and finally to west coast; worked with Billy Gray’s Band Box; urged by Henry Mancini to try Club Bingo in Las Vegas; hired by Herb McDonald to head entertainment in the Bonanza Room (1949); went back east and worked New York clubs; invited back to Las Vegas (1952) by Mr. Prell to work at the new Sahara Hotel; anecdote about getting Ray Bolger to perform; mention of Jack Entratter, Danny Thomas; hiring Bill Miller as entertainment director; building great lounge acts with Don Rickies, Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Mary Kaye Trio, The Characters; description of “Stan Irwin Security Program” for entertainers; anecdote regarding Louis Prima and new contract; mention of Artie Shaw, Andre Previn, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday; comments on how Lena Home and Pearl Bailey broke color line for black performers; remembering the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, wife Ava Gardner, and Jimmy Durante; mention of fire at Sahara Hotel; bringing Beatles to 2nd floor convention center.....................................1-10 Creating a TWA flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas; more details on the Beatles’ performances; recalling the opera association, plays, musicals, and Broadway shows in the sixties; campaigning for state assembly and pushing sales tax through; mention of Howard Hughes and the Desert Inn Hotel, the Branding Iron (major charitable event), and owners like Bill Harrah riding their horses into their gaming establishments; details on WWII military career, marriage to Ruth, working with George Gobel and Herb McDonald during the war and later at the Sahara Hotel; anecdotes about Mae West and Betty Hutton...............................................................11-20 Major changes after Howard Hughes; bringing big bands to the Congo Room; comments on prostitution, the Mob, Four Mile, and Al Bramlet’s death; mention of Steve Wynn and his Las Vegas Hotel; opinions on dress code in Las Vegas hotels; mention of Herb Jeffries, car give-away by Cashman Cadillac, and further details on WWII flying experience; description of three near-death experiences....................21-30 Mention of Matt Gregory and Bill Willard; comments on Peter and Hank, afternoon performers in the Casbah Theater; second mention of Matt Gregory and a topless show in Harrah’s; anecdote about Jay Samo and Circus Circus; stories about Art Linkletter and People Are Funny, managing Johnny Carson, and mention of Mario Lanza, Ray Bolger, and Celine Dion; comments on Ethel Merman, Noel Coward, Ted Knight, Carroll O’Connor, Redd Foxx, and Von Meter; doing five Siskin Foundation shows; closing comments on past headliners, handling money, children and wife, creating the Buddy Rich Orchestra, working on project for healthy heart awareness for children, and staying fit at eighty-plus.........................................................31-43 IV Preface Stan Irwin shares details of his background, family, and early show business experiences. His life story spans many decades and includes attending NYU, doing stand-up comedy, flying during WWII, working at Club Bingo in Las Vegas, and building up the entertainment at the Sahara Hotel. Mr. Irwin comments on many aspects of the Las Vegas entertainment scene. He recalls many headliners that he worked with and shares anecdotes about several. The Beatles, Johnny Carson, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, and Pearl Bailey are just a few of the many outstanding performers that he brought to Las Vegas. Stan offers comments on racism in Las Vegas thirty and forty years ago, and gives his opinions on the Mob, Howard Hughes, prostitution, and dress codes in the fifties and sixties, among other things. He recalls how Las Vegas looked in the early days, mentions a cardiovascular health project for children that he’s involved with today, and gives a little insight into staying fit at eighty-plus. v 1 We're here with Stan Irwin. And it looks like we've got a good deal. The tape is rolling. This is Side A. Today is the 22nd I believe. Today is the 24th. Is it the 24th? Well, it shows you that the old fellow is a little smarter than the younger fellow. And we're at the beautiful Porter Valley Country Club. And we've just had a spectacular breakfast. And I'm going to shut this off and go to the loo and I'll be right back. Go ahead and say a couple of things. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Stan Irwin, the middle of the afternoon. Close enough. Okay. We're here at the Porter Valley Country Club. I'm going to move around this side because it's better for us. And then we get a little more intimacy. Pretty soon we'll pick out a room and some furniture and they'll go, What happened to those two old gay guys from the Porter Valley Country Club? With gray hair. Yes. Quick introduction. Mr. Irwin and I are not intimate, but we have known of each other and been around each other for probably in excess of 50 years along with Herb Jeffries and some other guys. I thought it would be a great afternoon to sit down and talk to Stan. So I drove all the way down here in a PT Cruiser. And here we are. So we're going to have some fun. And, Stan, I'm just going to ask you a couple of mild questions. If I think of something that I think would be good to interject, I will break your continuity. And, otherwise, you'll just be talking nonstop until we run out of tape. I have about four hours' worth, so you can just go on forever. Thank you. I'm going to take a nap now so I'm prepared. That's called Florida shtick, folks. Anyway, just by way of introduction, you know where to go with this. I guess we'll start at the beginning from where did you come? Were mom and dad in show business? Were your grandparents in show business and so on? And were your grandparents born in Russia or Yugoslavia, which I always find interesting? And then how did you wind up being a comic? So let's take it from the start. Bom in New York City right smack in the middle of mid Manhattan, 204 Manhattan Avenue. That's between 108th and 109th Street. And Manhattan Avenue is one block west of Central Park. 2 My father was bom in Russia. He was the first of a family of nine to come to America. His first job was a dollar and a half a month and he lived in the back of the store. It was a grocery store. He learned the food business and his profession became cafeteria and restaurant owner. My mother was bom in America. She comes from Polish and German backgrounds. Her brothers were in show business. Edgar Allen, Paul Allen and Jack Allen. Jack Allen was a theater manager. Paul was a black-face performer. And Edgar was an agent. Edgar booked the Fox vaudeville circuit. When I was in kindergarten, I would be with grandma in the afternoon at a vaudeville house, the Mount Morris Varegent or the Palace. So I kind of grew up with a feeling for show business and I loved to see people laugh. I performed in public school plays, junior high school plays, high school plays besides also being involved in sports. Boys’ camp was my main background. I was always in major performances. And at very young ages I was doing full Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, (speaking Latin), et cetera, et cetera. Danny Kaye became my favorite. And I used to write Danny Kaye-type material for myself, but I wasn't Danny Kaye. String beans, tomatoes, lettuce, yams, turnips, potatoes, okra and hams, carrots, pea, celery and (dysesecral) cheese. I also learned to do the alphabet backwards. Z, Y, E — I'll get to that in a minute. Tip your waitress. We'll be here all week. Yes. Of course, he had Russian names. I wrote my own Russian names so I could perform in that manner. But I was ahead of myself. At that time comics were turmoil comics and I was sort of stand-up Jerry Seinfeld type. And I would do things that were common denominators that people could refer to as having happened to them, which again was ahead of itself. I worked the mountains. Mad Jack, who later became Rodney Dangerfield, was not going to work the mountains that year. He and I used to write material together, and Joey Bishop and I used to write material together. So I borrowed and loaned parts of Rodney Dangerfield — Mad Jack's — routine. I paid him $50 a week, combined it with mine, and after the summer season I never used it again. Then I started to do nightclubs in New York City. Played the toilets in Long Island and the Bronx, et cetera, et cetera. Is this the 40s, Stan? Late 30s, early 40s? 3 This is the early 40s. I went to NYU. I did senior shows at New York University. Then Ezra Stone, who was coming mother of the radio show "Henry Aldridge" was drafted. Well, in those days when I was at NYU I used to do Joey Adams Amateur Hours, which earned me money to go to college, 25, 15, ten dollars. And I would always win in one of those categories with impressions. The main money was working as a busboy in the mountains. I used to work with Joe E. Ross. And as I'm taking a shower after cleaning off the tables and doing the silverware, Joe would come into the shower room and teach me the burlesque sketches we were going to use that night. Then when it was staff performance, I used to headline that and I would do a record act and impressions and standup comedy. Record act being pantomime? Pantomime. Now, I'm drafted. And at that time when Ezra Stone was drafted and I went to audition for doing Henry Aldridge, I auditioned for the writer Bone Smith I think his name was. And he loved my voice. He said you have the voice of Aldridge and the timing of Eddie Brackett. So this was right before the summer and I was invited to come back and do this in the fall. And then I was drafted. So that ended that career. After I was released I wrote to all the people I know - Mr. Van Hartizfelt at the agency — here I am; I'm ready to do Henry Aldridge. But Ezra Stone also was out of service at that time. So I followed my career in showbiz. And then I was moved across the country to Philadelphia, Chicago and then Billy Gray's Band Box, which was very popular on the West Coast and in Los Angeles. Billy Gray normally had himself, comedian, and two other comedians, a boy singer and a girl singer. That was his average show. When Billy wasn't there, there were three comics. Then Billy was there, there were two additional comics. I came in when Billy wasn't there and Joe E. Ross was the main comic. I didn't know anything about Billy Gray. And at one time a singing group came back from Las Vegas and Mancini's (Hank Henry Mancini) future wife, Jenny, was in that singing group. Hank used to hang out there at Billy Gray's all the time because of Jenny. I had him do an orchestration for me for (indiscernible) loco. And later on he said you're the only guy who ever paid me for doing work. That's a compliment from Henry Mancini. 4 And then he said you should be in Las Vegas at the Club Bingo where we were. And I said where is Las Vegas? Now, in those years there was Las Vegas, Nevada, as is, and Las Vegas, New Mexico. And Las Vegas, Nevada was so unknown that much mail written Las Vegas, Nevada actually went to Las Vegas, New Mexico and had to be returned to Las Vegas, Nevada. And a man named Herb McDonald came in. He was head of promotion and advertising and entertainment at the Club Bingo. And he came in to Billy Gray's Band Box and he saw me. I never met him one on one, but the next thing I know is I have a contract for the Club Bingo for 11 days. Well, to give you an idea of the confidence that Herb had in me, the day I opened at the Bingo he went to the El Rancho. But I was at the Bingo. And my fourth day Mr. Prell gave me the room, the Bonanza Room, and I became the head of entertainment, advertising, public relations, promotions, and I started to upgrade the type of performers in the Bonanza Room. Was that 1948, Stan? That was 1949. Las Vegas was a two-lane highway, one going east and west and one going west and east, with telephone poles all along the side of the road. I think it a compliment that Beldon Katleman built a white fence around his property after I was at the Bingo awhile because the people would walk across the lawn of the El Rancho and come right into the Club Bingo. This prevented that. I stayed there a full eight months and went back east because my son was going to be bom. I worked the mountains and New York clubs, and then I got a call from Mr. Prell that we are going to build the Sahara on the Club Bingo property; we'd like you to come back in the same capacity. And, of course, the money in those years was exceptional, more than I was making as a performer. So I came back as the vice president in charge of entertainment, publicity, public relations and promotion. In a short period of time I convinced Mr. Prell this wasn't the Bingo, this is the Sahara, and we need individual people to head each of those classifications. When I came back most of the nightclub performers were already booked at the other hotels over the years that they existed — the Joe E. Lewises, the Sophie Tuckers, the Ritz Brothers, people of that nature. So I had to create new personalities from allied fields at the Sahara. The first person I went after was Milton Berle. But William Morris couldn't give us Milton Berle because we didn't know an exact opening date. Finally because of certain problems, I convinced 5 Mr. Prell and his group that October 6th — or the 9th — I think it was the 6th was the opening day. And what year would this be now? 1952. By the way, I also performed at the Silver Slipper when Hank Henry went on vacation. Herb McDonald was the mayor of the Silver Slipper area, which was a frontier-type area. And he brought me back to Vegas twice. I also — I'll get to that. So I then went to William Morris. Hershey Martin was the agent. And I said I'd like Ray Bolger. And he said Ray Bolger does not perform in nightclubs. I said someone convinces Ray Bolger to perform — a wife, a girlfriend, a boy friend, an uncle, an aunt, a friend, a mentor. He said his wife. I said what's her name? And Hershey Martin said Gwen. I said may I have her number? He gave me the number. I called. I said hello, Mrs. Bolger, my name is Stan Irwin. I'm the producer of the newest hotel on the Strip, the hotel Sahara. And I deem it an honor and a privilege if Mr. Bolger would open our room. She said Mr. Bolger does not perform in nightclubs. Ad libbing I said, Nightclubs, nightclubs? It would be an insult if I called you for the services of Mr. Bolger in a nightclub. We are a dinner restaurant presidia stage, two spotlights, full sound system and console. And she said, Why don't you come over? So we opened with Ray Bolger. At that time of my booking at the Sahara and producing there I introduced more new personalities to the nightclub arena than all the other hotels put together. But I did have a problem. When the Sands opened the head man there was Jack Entratter. Jack Entratter was associated with the Copa in New York. And I found out my problem immediately as to why I had to find new performers for our theater. When I went to Danny Thomas and I said, Danny, love to have you over at the Sahara, he said, Stan, I know you as a comic. I know Jack Entratter as a booker, as a producer. I worked for Jack at the Copa many times. And now that he's at the Sands, if you were me who would you work for? I said Jack Entratter. And he said right; that's where I'll be going. So I brought in people from opera - Helen Trauloo, Mel Keogh. I brought in Jose Greco and his dancers. I brought Eleanor Powell out of retirement after 14 years. I brought in Abbott and Costello. I just went through anybody I could think of who could put together an act. Separately, Nelson Eddy. Separately, Jeanette MacDonald. And I proved very successful. But then I went to Mr. Prell and I said Jack Entratter has first choice of prime people. 6 There's a man called Bill Miller, who had Bill Miller’s Riviera. And he was as equal in influence as Jack Entratter for the Copa. And Bill at this time was in Copa City in Miami. And I advised Mr. Prell that we should go see Bill Miller. We went to see Bill. Then Bill was brought in as the entertainment director/producer. I was under him in that vein, but I still headed -- oh, I was still over all of the other people who were in publicity, promotion, public relations. The Sahara became quite successful. We built the best lounge ever. We had the top people. I brought in Don Rickies. Bill Miller brought in Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Later on we brought in Mary Kaye Trio from the Frontier. We had secondary groups that were marvelous such as The Characters. The last show was five in the morning and you couldn't get in. It was five to 5:45. When Rickies and Prima first opened, they did five shows a night. But by the time it ended they were doing two shows a night. After a while Bill Miller, for whatever reason, left and went to either the Riviera or the Dunes. And then he was involved in multiple hotels, finally in the International, which is the Hilton. And he was involved with Alex Schuffe, who used to be our treasurer and then our vice president. And he became president of the Hilton - or the International. He and Bill were involved in bringing in Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley to the Hilton. It was a different type of contract. It was a certain amount of salary and stock, heavy stock. I created at the Sahara what I call the Stan Irwin Security Program. If you perform for me, you perform well, then I would give you a three-year contract of a minimum of 16 weeks a year. I would buy you at a salary that was beneficial to the hotel. It gave you financial independence to ask whatever you wished to ask for outside bookings in other arenas because you are already financially secure for the last three years. I also created the per-head policy at the Sahara. I would pay you ag-ve minimum, but give you $5.50 per head of the people you brought in over the week. Many people enjoyed that - Donald O'Connor and other vocalists and other comedians. So I had that feel having been a performer that you needed certain security, or if your value was above a salary, why not benefit from it? The secret of gaming is the involvement of walk-in participants. The more you can get people into your hotel, the higher the percentage would be from your machines and your gaming tables. That s why our lounge was so important. From midnight to six in the morning we were 7 jammed, which gave us great traffic. That's the secret word, traffic, as shown today in the way all hotels have become independent cities or countries to maintain the people there and to keep them there as much as possible. When it came time to renew Louis Prima's contract, Bill Miller was elsewhere and I went to Louis' home to renew the contract. Louis said I don't belong in a lounge; we belong in the main showroom. One of the reasons he said that is because when we would have a problem with a performer, I would move Louis and Keely into the main showroom as an opening act for the star. So he says, We belong in the main showroom; I shouldn't be in the lounge in back of a bar where the bartender is using the malted milk machine, where the waitresses are running up and down calling out orders, where the people are sitting there drinking in front of us. And I went to myself, Oops. Again, I ad libbed. Louis, you're absolutely right; you don't belong in a lounge. You notice that our chairs in the lounge have wheels. Why? So that when you're performing the audience swings their chairs around and face you directly. That's a theater. That's it. It's the Casbah Theater. I said give me your phone. And I called John Romero, who was head of our publicity. I said, John, we do not have a lounge anymore at the Sahara. That is the Casbah Theater. Louis doesn't belong in a lounge; he belongs in a theater. Change all the signs. Get rid of all the old tents that are on the table. Eliminate any thought or reference to Casbah Lounge. That from this day forward is the Casbah Theater. And Louis said, That's different, and signed another three-year contract. That's a great story. The bartender was Ramsey. Ramsey. You could never make Ramsey laugh. He would sit there. And Rickies would beat him up and he would just keep that stone face. That's it. Ramsey was the model for mummies. Can I interject something? Sure. That's when I think the first time — we never had a formal sit-down. But I think the first time I met you would be '62 when I was with Dede and Bill. Yes. Dede and Bill. 8 They were there. Freddie Bell. We worked back to back with Freddie Bell and somebody else too. Novelettes. Yeah. Were you the first guy to put Mary Healy and Peter Lind Hayes in the Sahara? Did they work for you? I'll tell you someone who did that very few people recognize or realize. It was — oh, God, I have a senior moment at this time. By the way, Artie Shaw played the Casbah. Yes, he did. Kirby Fields was there opposite Louis and Keely. Well, I had Andre Previn, who played jazz, there. He certainly did. And he was not that successful, but he stayed over one night when Louis and Keely opened and watched them and could not understand how they were so successful. Andre Previn, we know what future he had in the Philharmonic areas. Also the most successful jazz album I think in the history of jazz, My Fair Lady, with Shelley Manne and Monte Budwig, 1955, somewhere in there. Yeah. Now, I had Dinah Washington. I had Billie Holiday. With Sam Butera's Band. Yes. And at that time they could not live at the hotel. Lena Home and Pearl Bailey broke the color line for African-American performers to live in hotels. We had a marvelous trailer park type of accommodations for them right outside the Casbah. Right out the back door. Right out the back door. Right on Sahara, which was then, what, San Francisco Avenue? Yeah. We made it Sahara Avenue. That became the Sahara Avenue. Yeah. But before it was San Francisco. Yes. But Lena Home and Pearl Bailey broke the color line so that artists were allowed in the hotel as guests and could visit all the eating areas. Some people who don't know said the black performers had to come to the stage through the kitchen. There wasn't a hotel in Vegas in those days where, until they built proper dressing rooms, that the artists didn't have to come — black, 9 white, green, pink or yellow — through the kitchen to get to the stage or to their dressing rooms. They changed in the back. That was (indiscernible) for everyone. I got one that you used to book, Kay Martin and Her Body Guards. Yeah, Kay Martin. Jesse Hotchkiss, the worst bass player that ever picked up a bass. Oh, yes. Yes. Absolutely true. The same I haven't thought of in quite awhile. The Sahara became the Sahara and was recognized as a major edifice and hotel. When the Sands brought in the Rat Pack, the Sands became like "the" hotel based upon the promotion, the publicity and Sinatra himself. Few people remember that Sinatra many years before the Sands performed at the Desert Inn, and not too successfully. That was when he was having a problem because he was married to or going with Ava Gardner. And they used to say the best shows at the Desert Inn at that time was in the — Dressing room. No. In the casino when he and Ava Gardner would argue. From there he went into "From Here to Eternity" because of the relationship he had with the people at the Desert Inn. And Sinatra's history, it's unknown after that. The Desert Inn also did this type of favor for Jimmy Durante, whose career took a dive. And the boys there brought Jimmy Durante in and rebuilt his career. Can I throw in a footnote? I went to see Louis and Keely. And I'm sure you would concur. They really were never a big-room act because I went to see them when they had that production show at the DI, Stan, with the rickshaws and everything and it died. It just didn't work because it wasn't enough of that jing-a-ding, a-ding, a-ding, a-dinga. There's a certain room that's better for certain artists. When I designed and helped design the Congo Room at the Sahara having been a comedian, and comedians were very high in attraction at that time — (End Tape 1, Side A.) We're at the country club up here, the Porter Valley Country Club. It's Cork Proctor and Stan. And he's talking about when he designed the room, the Congo Room at the Sahara so 10 it would really be a great workspace for comics, singers, et cetera, et cetera. Then after the fire we had at the Sahara when we rebuilt the Congo Room, I even made it more intimate for comedians. The fire was one of those grease things in the flume. And we interrupted gaming. But we had another room, a convention room built on the second floor with a booth and spotlights and sound. And we immediately moved Teresa Brewer up there and we never interrupted any action at the Sahara. It was an involved fire but not devastating. For humor I put up signs in the passageways that were built so you could get to the casino cage or back to the eating rooms or the escalator to go upstairs. And one of the first signs I put up was, "Dealers and women first. You talk about hot games, you haven't seen our crap game lately." So there was a certain amount of humor involved. No one was hurt, just material damage. Was that '54, Stan, somewhere in there, '54? No. It was I think a little later. I'm not sure. Fifty-four is when I brought Eddy Arnold in. And he and Colonel Parker used to have arguments in their dressing room because it was at that time that the Colonel was beginning to bring Elvis Presley to the forefront. But the Sahara was always on the cutting edge, always involved in futuristic thinking. It was through the Sahara that I brought the Beatles in. And I brought them into the convention center because they would have been too big for just a hotel room. Now, the Sahara when you landed at McCarran Field was the last hotel people would come to. They'd come down the Strip. And at that time they'd hit the Flamingo, then they'd hit the Frontier and they’d hit the Desert Inn and they'd hit the Thunderbird and they'd hit the El Rancho, then they'd hit the Sahara. So by the time they got to me — every other hotel said, no, I'm not interested in the Beatles. And when they came to me I said yeah, but I'll put them on in the convention center. And at that time I helped develop — prior to that along with the other publicist assists, the Publicity Directors Association. We would come up with ideas to promote Las Vegas. We would take it to the Hotel Owners Association. And if they liked it, they would say you got it and they'd give us the funds. So this was a relationship of all hotels to each other, whereby if you had a star that had laryngitis and couldn't go on, you'd call another hotel and then you'd switch your opening and closing and they would send their star over to you or we would send our star over to them. Reciprocal goodwill. 11 That was it. And the idea was with the Publicity Directors Association to bring people to Vegas and then let each hotel vie for them with their own publicity and their own methods, means and know how. But bring traffic to Vegas. We opened the TWA flight San Francisco to Vegas. Normally it takes six months to a year for new flights to go into the black. This flight went right into the black. We all went up there and put on major performances, shows, convention dialogue, meetings, threw silver dollars away as we rode down — Abe Schiller. Abe Schiller in his pink outfit was one of the majors and recognized as a Vegas attraction. The Beatles — I put aside and divided up the convention hall with an equal amount of seats for every hotel. And I advised the heads of each hotel that I've blocked seats on their behalf for the Beatles. The reaction was, Yeah. So what? Okay. That's fine. About ten days before the Beatles were due to open every owner called me. Do you still have our seats? Because the nieces, nephews, grandchildren of the top gamblers wanted tickets for their youngsters to see the Beatles. If I weren't brought up with the moral character that I have, instead of saying they're $12.50 or $25,1 could have asked for a thousand dollars a ticket and every hotel owner would have paid it based upon the people that are coming in for their youngsters to see the show. I also was not intelligent enough to cut up the stage and tear its wooden parts down and sell them, or to sell the sheets and pillowcases, one-inch cuts, that the Beatles slept on. But my thinking wasn't there. The Beatles — I was told I could only put 7,000 people into the convention center at that time. This is the old convention center. I decided to put people behind the Beatles, as well as in front of the Beatles. And I'm the first one to do two shows with the Beatles in one day. I put in 8,408 people per show or 16,816 people for both shows. At 12 bucks a pop. 12.50, upper 25. There were two attractions that ever filled the convention center at that time. One was Leonard Bernstein and the other was the Beatles. Stan, did you work a percentage of the door with the Beatles or did you just give them a flat fee? The Beatles were paid a flat fee because they wanted to see Las Vegas. 12 Do you mind telling us what that fee was? $25,000 for both shows. Now, we also made a small fortune for the Sahara with the Beatles. Few people remember that Vegas had an opera association. Bill Willard headed that. And we used to do operas at the high school auditorium. I also produced the second straight play, not a musical, in Vegas. It was at the International. They had a room there that sat 1301 persons. The first show in there was Jesus Christ Superstar, a musical. My show, I had Art Carney in a trilogy of Broadway comedies written by Neil Simon and other top comedy writers at that time. So we were very innovative in Vegas thinking. Maynard Sloate then began to do Broadway shows down at the Plaza. So we created a lot of new ideas and new personalities in the Las Vegas area. At that time Mr. Jones, who was formally the lieutenant governor of Vegas, came to Mr. Prell and said we'd like to us