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Las Vegas dignitary Michael Severino honored on 70th birthday

Updated February 19, 2019 - 7:58 am

Michael Severino goes by many nicknames, most notably “The Guy Who Knows a Guy.” That’s the quote under his caricature at the Palm Restaurant at the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Sunday, the longtime Las Vegas hospitality executive and philanthropist was simply “The Man of the Hour.”

Severino has been a hospitality official in Las Vegas since the late-1970s and has worked for such resorts as Caesars Palace, Maxim, Riviera and those in the Summa Corporation (which owned Sands, Landmark, Frontier, Castaways, Desert Inn and Silver Slipper). He is also a lead organizer of the annual UNLVino scholarship event, the director of special events and marketing of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada; and a member of the Keep Memory Alive leadership board, which directs fundraising for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Thus, the congenial and uber-connected Severino is at the the center of the universe among Vegas power players. He marked his 70th birthday party in fitting fashion at Italian American Club on Sunday afternoon. This was a collection of 50-plus heavy hitters from Vegas and elsewhere, collectively, a “Goodfellas Friendship Luncheon.”

Around the room were such dignitaries as Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health founder and Severino’s close friend and confidant, Larry Ruvo; acclaimed actor and Bronx native Chazz Palminteri, who has helped the IAC raise thousands of dollars in scholarship money; “Bar Rescue” star and avid Cleveland Clinic supporter Jon Taffer; former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman; Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jeffrey Cummings; IAC’s management triumvirate of Benny Spano, Angelo Cassaro and Jimmy Girard; star chefs Luciano Pellegrini and Gustav Mahler; Robin Leach’s son Steve Leach; Lake Industries and Revenue Media Chief Executive Officer Saville Kellner; longtime Vegas entertainer and variety show host Dennis Bono; mixologist and Mr. Coco Managing Partner Francesco LaFranconi; and Severino’s old friends from his Riviera days Mark Sterbens and Graziano Gandini.

The Lon Bronson Band provided the music, with a “show that never happened” format with Frank Sinatra tribute artist Chris Joseph of “The Rat Pack is Back” at Tuscany Suites teaming with Jeff Celentano as Billy Joel. Harpist Mariano Gonzalez and mentalist Carl Christman also performed.

In his speech to the group, Severino honored his own late father, Mike Sr.; Lou Ruvo, who died of Alzheimer’s disease 25 years ago Monday; and Robin Leach. Instead of gifts, asked only for donations to the Ruvo Center. He remembered those who could not be with him on this special celebration, and recited a piece of writing from humorists Gina Barreca:

“The task for all of us facing a new year, or every new day for that matter, is to accept that uncertainty. Too many of us have come to regard destiny as a kind of bellhop who can be summoned by a snap of our fingers and who’ll take any order we place. Instead we should think of destiny as a silent, experienced and skillful chef in a well-equipped but hidden kitchen, preparing only from those ingredients we’ve provided a meal designed for us alone. It’s not on any menu.”

Severino’s many friends around the room smiled and applauded, in a way gentlemen should.

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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