More stories of classmates who became stars


My Nov. 29 column on high school buddies who became celebrity entertainers sparked three Las Vegas women's funny memories. Shove over, Norm, I’m on your turf now … Anita Bryant, Wayne Newton, Glen Campbell, Jack Jones, and Carol Burnett. All had ties to three Las Vegas women who wrote me with their memories.

Jean Bard, a newsroom assistant at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, had me in stitches with her recollection of Anita Bryant and her pincurls. “I went to school with Anita Bryant in Midwest City, Okla. She was in my science class in the 9th grade and was very sweet and well-liked. She sang on a local TV program "Sooner Shindig,” Bard remembered. "She used to come to school on Fridays with her hair in pincurls in preparation for her appearance.”

Anita Bryant went on to become Miss Oklahoma in 1958, enjoyed a strong singing career and eventually worked for the Florida Citrus Commission. If you remember “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,” you remember Anita Bryant.

Las Vegas retiree Stephanie Wilson had memories of two boys she went to school with who became popular singers. She didn’t go as far as to claim friendship, but there were bonds. “Wayne Newton went to North High School in Phoenix, Arizona, as I did, He was ahead of me, but we shared the same mean-spirited guidance counselor. At the time he and his brother were performing together. She suggested he give up his music and do something more constructive.”

Wonder if that counselor tells that story much?

Wilson went to college a year in Mexico City, at a school named Mexico City College. “It was a school of misfits, guys on G.I. Bills, and people like me who wanted to learn Spanish. The last quarter I was there, a chubby guy started. I didn't get to know him well, more on a "hi-how ya doin" level. It was Glen Campbell.”

Las Vegan Jessica Lee sat in front of Jack Jones at University High School in Los Angeles. "He was so gorgeous even then and I thought I would die each day that he teased me in class or would pull on my hair to ask me a question. We had a school assembly in that year where kids got up and displayed their talent. Jack got on stage and sang a ballad and to be perfectly honest he wasn't very good. I guess he had lessons afterwards, as you know he became a great singer."

Lee said her “biggie” celebrity was a connection that started with Norma Gluskin, the girl across the street, who babysat her and her sister. “Norma's very best friends were Ila Mae and Carol. They had to baby sit us every weekend and take us to the movies.”

Carol was Carol Burnett.

Anyone remember how she’d mention her friends Norma and Ila Mae on her TV show?