Celeb Celebrations: December
C’mon, you can do it: Blow out all 2,083 combined December birthday candles, you Vegas-lovin’ birthday babies. Ready … Set … BLOW UNTIL YOU TURN BLUE! (Oh, and Happy Birthday, everyone.)
12/1: In memory of … Lou Rawls, the man with the mellower-than-mellow pipes who died in 2006 at age 72. Today, the Vegas regular who musically claimed that we’d never find another love like his would be 85.
12/1: Before movie maestro Woody Allen, there was standup comic Woody Allen, who plied his hilarious trade at Caesars Palace in the 1960s. Today, at 83, we bet Allen could still climb onstage and sell one-liners like this one he told way back then: “I’m not a gambler. I went to the racetrack once in my life and I bet on a horse and mine was the only horse in the race with training wheels.”
12/2: Oops — she’s back again. Seems like only yesterday when Britney Spears musically decreed that we wanted a Piece of Me during her Planet Hollywood residency. Now, turning 37, the pop diva returns in February in her new Park Theater residency, Domination. Obviously, we all still want a piece of her.
12/3: We still go bats (or at least a bat’s head) for Ozzy Osbourne, who at age 70, is presumably done with biting the heads off creepy flying mammals when he returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20.
12/3: In memory of … Andy Williams. He was the first headliner at Caesars Palace in 1966. He introduced the Osmonds to the world on his TV variety show. And, though he left us in 2012 at age 84, the classic crooner who would have been 91 today would still caress our ears with his timeless rendition of “Moon River,” a ballad for the ages.
12/4: Vegas drop-in (and Mr. Beyonce) Jay-Z creeps closer to the half-century mark by turning 49. Perhaps the missus will buy him a nice tie for his birthday. Or maybe she’ll buy him a nice island in the Pacific. She can afford either one.
12/5: Good golly! Does Miss Molly know that Vegas stalwart Little Richard is turning 86? We bet he could still rock from the early-early mornin’ to the early-early night.
12/7: In memory of … Louis Prima, the man who defined the entire concept of Las Vegas lounge entertainment with his unforgettable style — brash, playful and larger than life, but built on a foundation of consummate musicianship. We lost this milestone performer in 1978 at age 67. Today, he would be 118. And he would probably still humorously describe himself by the title of his biggest hit, which is also inscribed at his gravesite: “Just a Gigolo.”
12/8: In memory of … Jim Morrison, frontman and wild man of The Doors, who made his way-premature exit in 1971 at age 27. Beyond leaving his mark on rock music, he also left it on Vegas when he was infamously arrested here at the Pussycat a’ Go Go theater after provoking a security guard, earning a billy club to the noggin, and adding public drunkenness and disturbing the peace convictions to his list of accomplishments. Today the “Light My Fire” iconoclast would be 75, perhaps having outgrown such antics. Or perhaps not.
12/8: In memory of … Flip Wilson, a Vegas headliner and TV legend who passed away in 1998 at age 64. Today, at 85, he likely would still be making us laugh. In fact, he’s surely doing that up in heaven, even if it’s the devil making him do it.
12/8: In memory of … Sammy Davis Jr., the legendary, multitalented Rat Packer and one of the most beloved entertainers of all time, who took his final bow in 1990 at age 64. Today, Frank and Dino’s buddy would be 93 and probably still itching to perform “I’ve Gotta Be Me.” After all, he always had to be him. And that’s just the way we loved him. WATCH: Video of Sammy Davis Jr. onstage.
12/9: At age 61, Flamingo superstar (and grandpa) Donny Osmond is a tad past the “Puppy Love” stage. Yet with that ever-youthful glow about him, he can still croon that tuneful evergreen and make us believe “how a young heart really feels.” After the passing of Dick Clark, the title of World’s Oldest Living Teenager clearly belongs to Marie’s other half.
12/9: In memory of … Redd Foxx, the funnyman and Vegas regular who died in 1991 at age 68. Known for his risqué material onstage and his cranky lovability onscreen as Fred Sanford in Sanford and Son, the beloved comedian would be 96 today — and still battling with his battle-axe arch-enemy on TV, Aunt Esther.
12/11: Beloved holder of an EGOT title — what’s known in the biz as having won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — Rita Moreno turns 87 and is expected in town next month, to be feted at the Aria as Nevada Ballet Theatre’s next Woman of the Year.
12/12: She famously asked us all if we knew the way to San Jose, but Dionne Warwick, celebrating No. 78, always knew the way to Vegas.
12/12: In memory of … Frank Sinatra. What can you say about the Chairman of the Board? About Ol’ Blue Eyes? About The Voice? About the Head Rat of the Rat Packers? We lost the never-to-be-duplicated talents of Frank Sinatra in 1998 at age 82, and we wish he were still around right here and now, at age 103.
12/14: In memory of … Charlie Rich, a bona fide member of both Vegas and country music royalty, who left us in 1995 at age 62. Today, the man who waxed poetic about “The Most Beautiful Girl” would be 86.
12/15: Often pairing with his partner in comedy, the late Harvey Korman, to break up Vegas audiences, we wonder if Carol Burnett Show sketch comedy genius Tim Conway could still get exasperated with Mrs. a-W-W-W-Wiggins at age 85.
12/19: To celebrate his 51st birthday, magic maven Criss Angel will actually give us the gift of his talents when he returns to the Strip in his new, upcoming Mindfreak production at Planet Hollywood.
12/22: In memory of … Robin Gibb. We may have lost falsetto-voiced Bee Gee Robin Gibb in 2012 at age 62, but if he were around today at age 69, he’d be in the audience every night cheering on The Australian Bee Gees at the Excalibur hotel-casino.
12/24: After going All In during his residency this year at the Park Theater, Ricky Martin is still livin’ la vida loca at age 47.
12/24: In memory of … Howard Hughes. He died in 1976 at age 70. He WAS Las Vegas. He STILL IS Las Vegas. He ALWAYS WILL BE Las Vegas. Today, the ol’ Spruce Goose would be 113.
12/25: In memory of … Conrad Hilton, who died in 1979 at age 91. You know his name. You know his hotel empire. You know Las Vegas wouldn’t have been the same without him. And Hilton makes Frank Sinatra (103), Howard Hughes (113) and Louis Prima (118) look like toddlers, given that he would be 131 today.
12/26: In memory of … Alan King. The sardonic comic with the staccato delivery (and actor with Casino among his many credits) did observational comedy in Vegas and showrooms around the world long before Jerry Seinfeld mined the same comedy mind-set. He’d no doubt still be doing it today at age 91. One of his classic, hilarious routines? “Survived by Widow” — his collection of obituaries, in which he insists women live longer than men. For the record, here’s something he would certainly appreciate: Alan King died in 2004 at age 76. He was survived by his wife (rim shot!).
12/30: At age 43, Tiger Woods will remain forever young in the memory of Las Vegas, where he won his first PGA Tour in 1996 at age 20, on his way to becoming a golf immortal.
12/31: In memory of … Donna Summer, the undisputed Queen of Disco, who often turned up on the Mandalay Bay stage alongside David Foster. We lost the acclaimed diva in 2012, her last dance coming at age 63. Today she would have turned 70. We’ll always love to love ya, baby.
— Steve Bornfeld