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It’s a long walk for Las Vegas star attraction

Updated January 26, 2021 - 4:00 pm

Marilyn Ball might need some superhuman powers herself to straighten out the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

Ball, the mother of Lindsay Wagner, who played “The Bionic Woman” on network TV in the 1970s, is the Walk of Stars’ former vice president. She worked with the late Bob Alexander, who headed up the organization from 2004 until his death in September. Alexander was also president of the Palm Springs Walk of Stars through 2018.

Simply, Alexander was always the trusted, go-to man for all Walk of Stars concerns. In one memorable instance, he was the point man when dozens of stars were pulled up as Clark County installed safety bollards along the Las Vegas Strip.

In all, Alexander presided over more than 100 star ceremonies, including those of Wayne Newton, Elvis, the Rat Pack, Siegfried & Roy, Frank Marino (the only entertainer with two stars) and Donny and Marie Osmond.

Thus, the Walk of Stars’ very future was in doubt after he passed away from pneumonia at age 77. The responsibility of reorganizing the organization has fallen to Ball.

“Bob was a one-man band, which was fine, but I think he’s the only one who understood his filing system,” Ball said Tuesday in a phone chat from Palm Springs, California. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to make lemonade out of it. We’re giving it a real try.”

Ball has been sifting through a storage facility piled high with 15 file boxes, and five file cabinets dating back more than 20 years. Some of the paperwork, such as voided checks, are so badly faded they are illegible. The organization’s official website and Facebook pages need to be completely overhauled, which is why it took several days to unearth contact information for Ball, or any Walk of Stars official.

The delay has thrown a scare into fans of two upcoming star recipients, the late recording and TV superstar David Cassidy and lounge legend Cook E. Jarr. Cassidy’s reps finished their labor of love in 2018. They had raised the required funds and set a date last April for Cassidy to be honored on the Strip. That ceremony was knocked out by COVID-19 restrictions.

The campaign to award Jarr a star had also reached fruition. Led by Jarr devotee Mark Block, a GoFundMe campaign for the Jarr star has collected the $20,000 fee required for the star and ceremony expenses.

For several weeks, fans of Cassidy and Jarr were in the dark about plans for their heroes to be honored. More pertinent, they were concerned the thousands of dollars raised for the ceremonies might have gone missing.

Block conveyed his frustration as he finished his four-year fundraising drive in December, as he suddenly had no luck reaching anyone in authority at the Walk of Stars. He had been hustled along by GoFundMe reps, who told him they’d already sent the money to a Walk of Stars account.

The Cassidy faction raised its money in three separate online campaigns. Those fans had not even known Alexander had died until this past weekend. Officials sent frantic emails asking for help, feeling their efforts had rammed into a dead end.

But after connecting with avid Cassidy fans Lynne Frasche of Sarasota, Florida, and Carolyn Schiavo of Princeville, Illinois, Ball says the Cassidy star will be placed, just later than planned.

Cook E. Jarr, too, is on the tarmac. Efforts to reach The Jarr have been unsuccessful. Not a surprise, as the lounge vet sings on his voicemail, “Leave your name and number and I’ll call you back! That’s a fact! Not!”

Nonetheless, The Jarr will have a star.

“We just need the city to open up so we can plan for these ceremonies,” Ball said. “If they paid the money, they’ll get the star.”

Wilson’s Aces-Raiders tribute

The first cross-promotional effort between the Las Vegas Aces and Las Vegas Raiders since Mark Davis bought the WNBA team appeared as a full-page ad on the back of Sunday’s Review-Journal sports section. Davis paid tribute to Aces star A’ja Wilson’s statue, which was unveiled Monday at her alma mater, the University of South Carolina.

The event at the statue’s site, Colonial Life Arena, coincided with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The message above the teams’ side-by-side logos was “A Commitment to Excellence.” As Bogey said in “Casablanca,” “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

King’s first foray

Larry King’s first broadcast special after leaving “Larry King Live” on CNN was centered on the brain health work at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. King died Friday at age 87, having suffered from COVID-19 shortly before his death. He logged more than 6,000 shows on CNN.

“CNN Presents: A Larry King Special — Unthinkable: the Alzheimer’s Epidemic” aired May 1, 2011. It was King’s first broadcast after stepping down from his nightly show on Dec. 16, 2010.

He chatted with an array of newsmakers who had been touched by brain disease, including former first lady Laura Bush; Alzheimer’s activist and broadcaster Maria Shriver; actors Seth Rogen and Angie Dickinson; TV host Leeza Gibbons; NFL great Terrell Owens; and Ron Reagan, the son of the late President Ronald Reagan.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was also on hand to discuss Alzheimer’s with King, who attended multiple Keep Memory Alive events in support of co-founders Larry and Camille Ruvo.

Your VegasVille Moment

A grateful diner was able to recover $30,000 in casino chips at SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas on Monday night. The unidentified gambler blithely walked out of the restaurant after stacking his winning haul on the table.

He left behind five $5,000 chips, and five $1,000 chips.

His server ran down the wayward gambler as he left the dining room, stopping him as he was about to step onto the escalators leading to the casino. The guy was unaware, to put it mildly, and offered high-fives all around. He’d already left a $500 tip, on a $2,000 dinner tab for himself and his guests.

The episode reminds of something the late Kenny Rogers said, about you never counting your money when you’re sitting at the table.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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