King sheds light on the Chairman


Regrets, I've had a few. Most notably for not having a tape recorder going on those nights Sonny King regaled us with Frank Sinatra stories.

King died four years ago on Feb. 3 at age 83 on the birthday of Rat Pack member Joey Bishop, who told King's widow, Peggy, "I can never celebrate my birthday again."

King was a supreme storyteller. That and his tough-guy persona and wit would have been a major reason why Sinatra adopted him and made him an unofficial member of the Rat Pack. Sinatra thought the world of Sonny, so much so that he asked whether he would be the godfather of King's daughter Antoinette.

After Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, King was asked to deliver a eulogy at Sinatra's Las Vegas memorial at St. Viator's Church.

During a conversation with Peggy on Saturday, the eve of what would have been Sinatra's 95th birthday, she mentioned to me she still had Sonny's eulogy among her many keepsakes.

She faxed it over. My favorite story: One night Sinatra and King were at the Boom-Boom Room of the Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.

When King came back from the men's room, Sinatra sensed something was wrong.

King told him he had just seen former boxing champion Beau Jack shining shoes in the restroom.

They left their seats and went back to say hello to the down-on-his-luck boxer.

According to King, Sinatra said, "Beau, I'd like to shine your shoes for the many thrills you gave me during your career."

"Frank gave him $1,000. Every night after that for four straight weeks, he would go into the bathroom and give him $200 or $300."

Before leaving the pulpit, King closed: "Good night, Frank and stay well in the arms of God and Jesus for they gave you ... 'your way.' "

THE SCENE AND HEARD

After 11-plus years in this job, I don't recall such emotion at an opening night show as "Sinatra Dance With Me" at Wynn Las Vegas on Saturday. Among those giving it, in Ol' Blues Eyes lingo, "a No. 1, top of the list" rave: Harrah's headliner Rita Rudner, who knows about dance because she studied ballet for years with hopes of making her mark as a ballerina.

A shout-out to colleague Jeff Wolf for passing along quotes from World Series champ Cody Ross' National Finals Rodeo visit. I inadvertently overlooked giving Wolf credit in Saturday's column. ...

Darryl Carr's name was misspelled in Sunday's item about local Sinatra encounters.

SIGHTINGS

"American Idol" judges J-Lo and Steven Tyler were spotted in town over the weekend taping audiences at The Mirage. An announcement is scheduled on Tuesday that "Idol" and Cirque du Soleil will be holding auditions in the "Love" theater to get down to the 12 finalists. ... Tina Sinatra, spotted crying in the restroom after taking in "Sinatra Dance With Me." While being comforted by Donna Wishna of Las Vegas, Sinatra said, "It is a very emotional night for me."... Paris Hilton, in town for a birthday party for one of her BFFs. Rumors were flying that she was heading for Haze in Aria at CityCenter, but there were no sightings. That lent credence to rumblings that her cocaine possession plea bargain included the stipulation that she not show up in Las Vegas nightclubs for a year. ...

Vince Neil, singing "Fly Me to the Moon" to girlfriend Alicia Jacobs on Saturday in Sinatra restaurant in Encore after the Sinatra show. "Now that's romantic," said longtime Strip headliner and Sinatra pal Steve Lawrence, before going over and chatting with them.

THE PUNCH LINE

"My chain of local Saudi home decor stores: Bedouin Bath and Beyond." -- From David Letterman's Top Ten Reasons Saudi Youth Love David Letterman.

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

 

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