Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Thanks so much for your in-depth responses.
Do you mind sharing with us the more intriguing or difficult aspects of your research? How did you connect with so many of the people you intviewed? And if you could interview anyone of the major figures who developed Las Vegas, who would it be?
I'm also curious to know if you could have chosen to see any entertainer during the 40s or 50s, who would it have been?
I loved doing the research on who to interview and I thought in the beginning it would be great to do 50 video oral histories, but I quickly discovered that my interviewees would say, "You really should talk to so and so, they have great stories". We tried to interview as many as we could but some did get away from us either because they didn't want to participate or their schedules never meshed with ours. I was thrilled to sit down and interview them all and some really good friendships have come out of that research and the interviews.
I loved being able to sit down with Sam Butera, Louis Prima's saxophone player. For the next few years, if he was playing where Mr. Cutter and I could go see him, we went. We always talked to him after the show and the last time I saw him, he gave me a big hug. He died a short while after that.
I would have loved to interview some of the original visionaries like Wilbur Clark, Tommy Hull, Jack Entratter, Jay Sarno (he developed and built Caesars Palace which is covered in the next book, Kirk Kerkorian. But all but Kirk had passed away long before I even thought of this project. I couldn't get Kerkorian to agree to a sit down interview but I did get his right hand man, Burt Cohen. So that helped a great deal. I also would have loved to interview Robert Maheu, Howard Hughes' right hand man but the closest I got to that was moderating a panel discussion with him and a few others who knew or worked with Hughes.
I would have loved to have seen Louis Prima, Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses when they were rocking the Casbar Lounge back in the mid-1950s. They were, to quote Sam, "the hottest act in the world". Would have loved to have seen the Rat Pack Summit during the two weeks they were holding court at the Sands and I would have loved to have seen one of Judy Garland's late shows. She didn't have the temperament to do a dinner show because she was a nigh owl but the late show which started at 11:30 and typically went to 1:00 am was perfect for her.