A Jack Cole audition for Joan Bayley

Dance · Film

arts·meme‘s Debra Levine interviews dancer-teacher Joan Bayley who shares an amusing memory. Auditioning for Jack Cole as harem dancers in KISMET (1944) at MGM, Joan and her friend Freda Flier bobbled their heads from side to side — and didn’t know when to stop.

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Floating craps game at Vegas’s Sands Hotel reimagined

Architecture & Design · Featured · Music

According to author Lynn Zook, who has written two cultural histories of the Las Vegas Strip, the Sands Hotel came to symbolize the Las Vegas of our collective memory. It was here that the color line was broken; here that Sinatra, Martin, Davis and the rest of the Rat Pack held court in the Copa Room; here that JFK visited during a campaign trip through Southern Nevada.

arts•meme is pleased to share an except from Zook’s Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip 1930-1955.

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The Sands Hotel opened on Dec. 15th, 1952. Danny Thomas, singer/songwriter Jimmy McHugh and the Copa Girls (“the most beautiful girls in the world”) opened the famed Copa Room.

Ray Sinatra and his Orchestra were the house musicians, and the Copa Room had seating for 395 and featured a series of nine sculptured metal Brazilian carnival figures.

By the second night of his two-week run, Thomas, overwhelmed by all the press coverage and unaccustomed to such attention, had strained his voice and his doctor told him to take the night off if he wanted to be able to continue his gig. A call went out and, in that old standard of Hollywood and Broadway, the show went on starring a hastily gathered group that included Jimmy Durante, the Ritz Brothers, Frankie Laine, Jane Powell and Ray Anthony. It was, by press accounts of the evening a wild, free-wheeling ad-libbed show that brought the house down. All the performers would ultimately play the Strip throughout the 1950s.

Sands Head of Publicity Al Freeman wooed Louella Parsons, Bob Considine and Earl Wilson to broadcast their radio shows from the Sands a few times a year. He invited atomic scientists and doctors to stay at the Sands during the atomic bomb tests that were routinely going off in the early morning desert skies above Yucca Flats. He wooed celebrities, dignitaries and politicians. He worked closely with the photographers at the Las Vegas News Bureau to keep the Sands in the forefront of publicity.

True to the mad‐cap spirit of the day, Freeman put a craps table in the pool. Don English, of the Las Vegas News Bureau, snapped the photograph of gamblers in swimming suits and Hawaiian shirts playing craps in the pool. Guys and Dolls was a smash on Broadway and one of the favorite songs from the musical concerned a floating crap game. Freeman was a master at his job and raised the bar for all the other publicity directors in town.

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Purchase Gambling on a Dream: The Classic Las Vegas Strip 1956-1973.

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Happy 50th Mr. Rogers from fellow Pittsburghers at arts•meme 4

Featured · Music
Click the arrow above for the sweet sound of Fred Rogers inviting you to be his neighbor. “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” debuted fifty years ago, on February 19, 1968, produced by WQED-Pittsburgh. We’re global now. But arts•meme‘s editorial and technology team has roots in the friendly, neighborly city of Pittsburgh. Proud that Mr. Rogers drew on ...



Electric Miles Davis in the new millennium, at The Soraya

Featured · Music
Miles Davis (1926-1991) was out of the public eye in the late 1970s. The legendary trumpeter and bandleader had changed the course of music—not just jazz—several times, and was half a decade into his electric period, inaugurated by 1969’s Bitches Brew. That epoch rewrote the rules of ensemble interaction, as Miles turned eager young soloists ...

When Sally gave Marilyn (Monroe) her jazz pants 1

Dance · Fashion · Featured
You all remember when Harry met Sally. But what about when Sally (Goldin) gave Marilyn (Monroe) her pair of jazz pants? This happened! A jaw-dropping moment when Sally Goldin said, “I gave Marilyn a pair of my jazz pants.” Uh, okay, Sally. That Marilyn? You gave Marilyn Monroe your JAZZ PANTS?? “Oh, yes,” shot Sally ...

Last hurrah, 70 years ago today, for Jack Cole at Florida’s Colonial Inn

Seventy years ago today, February 14, 1948, a display ad for the erstwhile Colonial Inn in Hallandale, Florida, ran in the Ft. Lauderdale News. The Inn was neither colonial nor an inn. It was a “carpet joint,” a boozy, broad-filled gambling joint whose boss man was notorious. The club would soon be closed down by ...

A ‘red-sock’ Valentine from Grover Dale … and Debbie Reynolds 2

Dance · Fashion · Film
A perfect post for St. Valentine’s Day is the ‘sock-in-the-jaw’ dancing Grover Dale delivers in “He’s My Friend,” choreographed by Peter Gennaro for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Dale is right on the money in this wonderful number. Gus Trikonis and Debbie Reynolds also excel, Debbie more than holding her own with the two dynamos ...

The flickering of truth, by Jasper Johns, at The Broad

Featured · Visual arts
One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work — Jasper Johns When the first survey articles and books on Pop Art were published in the 1960s, Jasper Johns was usually included. The painter, sculptor and constructionist often depicted vernacular objects in his work ...

Wicked and proud: choreographer Liz Lerman in conversation

Dance · Language & ideas
Choreographer, dancer, and writer Liz Lerman will present an interactive lecture this week concerning a project she calls, “Wicked Bodies.” Lerman is researching the visual portrayal of women’s bodies throughout history. The Wicked Bodies project provides a format in which Lerman interviews guests, gathering data “real-time,” adding to her perspectives and understanding of the images, issues, ...

Joan Crawford: an actress who paid her dues before #metoo

A great double bill, this Friday night, as part of “Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film” series on now at UCLA Film & Television Archive, two powerful films directed by Curtiz and starring Joan Crawford. Mildred Pierce (1945) Joan Crawford’s career-renewing turn is the primary but far from the only attraction adorning one of Michael ...