A waitress at a 1950s diner inside the Stratosphere has a tip for colleagues still clinging to big dreams:
Believe in your talent.
Melissa Roberts' big voice earned her $10,000 Saturday as the winner of the inaugural "Ellis Icon," Ellis Island's karaoke version of "American Idol."
Not a bad night's take for the Roxy's Diner staffer.
The 27-year-old Chicago native moved to Las Vegas four years ago looking for a change in her life.
She's been singing karaoke for years, but this was the first karaoke contest she's entered. Her family and friends have been encouraging her for years to continue her singing.
"I'm very shy," she explained. "I have a lot of stage fright."
Her advice for others who aren't ready to abandon long-held dreams? "Believe in yourself."
She's got immediate plans for part of the $10,000.
"I share a car so I'm going to get my own," she said.
Her renditions of Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight" and Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" gave her a one-point win over runner-up Pamme Williams, 48.
Williams won $7,500. The third place prize of $2,500 went to Patrick Moananu.
Ellis Island organizers believe it's the richest karaoke jackpot ever paid in Las Vegas.
The judges included popular Las Vegas headliner Earl Turner and former lounge singer Karen Dorsey, now president of Ellis Island and Village Pubs.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
The local entertainment scene is mourning two recent losses: Dorothy McGuire Williamson of The McGuire Sisters and comedian Charles Vespia Jr. McGuire Williamson died Friday at the age of 84 in Paradise Valley, Ariz., near Phoenix. Her sisters, Phyllis and Christine, live in Las Vegas. The Ohio sisters hit it big in the 1950s with "Sincerely" and "Sugartime." Vespia, whose funeral services were on Saturday, was known for his peanut vendor routine that started with him wading into an audience and heckling the onstage performer. When the star of the show challenged the "peanut man" to put up or shut up, Vespia responded with a booming operatic tenor voice that wowed crowds. ...
Former Las Vegas sports radio host Mike Responts died Friday at a local hospital of an abdominal aneurysm. The Boise native, known as "The Sports Pig," moved to Las Vegas in 1996 and moved back and forth between the Las Vegas and Boise radio markets. He teamed up with Steve Cofield on "The Wise Guys" on Fox 920 before moving back to Idaho about two years ago.
Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos, among the attendees at Elvis Monroe's album release party at Rocks Lounge (Red Rock Resort) on Saturday. Also there: Las Vegas music producer Tom Fletcher, who has produced albums for Ozzy Osbourne, Toto, Yes and Hilary Duff. ... Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family," celebrating the birthday of boyfriend Justin Mikita and friends at "Love" (Mirage) on Saturday. Ferguson's castmate Sofia Vergara was seen at Mandalay Bay over the weekend. ... Austin "Chumlee" Russell of "Pawn Stars," celebrating his 30th birthday at LAX nightclub (Luxor) on Saturday. ... Reality star Jack Osbourne, dining at Republic Kitchen and Bar Friday. He had a steak and ordered the Peanut Butter & Jelly for dessert.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Tom Cruise is being accused of having the Church of Scientology audition women to be his wife. I don't know what the problem is. At least someone in this economy is actually still hiring." - Conan O'Brien