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Las Vegas Strip icon Frank Marino sheds Joan Rivers role

Updated November 23, 2019 - 1:09 pm

Ever the showman/woman, Frank Marino retired Joan Rivers with customary panache at “Legends in Concert” Tuesday night at the Tropicana Theater.

In the final show in his limited engagement in the production, and also on the eve of his 56th birthday, Marino said from the stage, “Where’s my Joan Rivers wig? And my Joan Rivers case?” He then put it all away, saying, “She has supported two households for 35 years and made us both very successful.”

The two did make beautiful news together. In 1986, Marino was served legal papers onstage at the Riviera from an attorney representing Rivers — while Marino was performing as Rivers in the opening monologue of “Evening At La Cage.” Rivers sued Marino for $5 million for copyright infringement, for allegedly using Rivers’ jokes in his show.

The two settled out of court and became friends, garnering priceless publicity in the process. Marino has been portraying Rivers since 1986, when he was 22 years old, through her death in 2014.

“Legends” sold especially well with Marino in the show, reports of 200-plus tickets during his appearances. He hinted he might be back in the production, which has run for 36 years on the Strip, saying, “Tonight’s going to be the last night I’ll be performing as Joan, unless I do something with ‘Legends’ in the future.”

Marino is performing a drag brunch at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at DW Bistro. He’s hosting a private event in Dubai, produced by Caroline Stanbury of “Ladies of London” on Bravo, Jan. 5-13. Stanbury is pitching a “Divas Las Vegas” concept in the luxe capital of the United Arab Emirates. He tours Florida after the Dubai trip, then debuts a new version of “Divas” at the Italian American Club on Feb. 16.

Marino is also pushing his drag show concept for the Strip next spring.

Marino is making a big fee, $125,000, for appearing in Dubai, and also making a big deal of that big fee.

“It’s nice to be humble, but once in a while you need to let a bitch know — meaning other drag queens.”

There’s no, um, skirting the issue for this drag queen.

‘Legends’ for holidays

On the topic of legendary portrayals, “Legends” premiered its holiday show Wednesday, keeping the theme and lineup through Dec. 30. Reba McEntire (Corrie Sachs), Mariah Carey (Jass Meagher), Bono (Pavel Sfera) and Elvis (Bill Cherry) make up the seasonal lineup. Carey is in the “Legends” lineup for the first time in Vegas.

The opening number is the Brian Setzer Orchestra arrangement of “Jingle Bells” and a full-cast run of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Naturally, “Blue Christmas” from Elvis is in the mix, too.

Grimm is back

We’ll be tracking down this gentleman soon enough: Las Vegas singer/songwriter Michael Grimm, the Season 5 champ of “America’s Got Talent,” returns to the show for “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” the second season of the spinoff series. This is Grimm’s first appearance since winning his title in September 2010.

Grim once said of that championship run, “It’s like being a cork in the ocean.” He’s most recently appeared at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center.

Mayfair tease

The opening lineup of Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio was introduced at a showcase at On The Record Speakeasy on Wednesday night. Some column faves in the entertainment lineup, with well-established singers Lisa Marie Smith, “Pin Up” at the Strat and “Baz” at Palazzo Theater; Jason Martinez, an original member of the “Jersey Boys” in Las Vegas; LaShonda Reese from NYC; and Steve Judkins, an actor and singer out of L.A.

Mayfair is set for a New Year’s Eve opening. This is the space that opens to Lake Bellagio. Fun facts about that locale: It was Fontana Room originally, dating to 1998, with Michael Feinstein as the first headliner and George Bugatti as his opening act. That was a time, in a feng shui sort of way …

Cool Hang Alert

“Nashville Unplugged” is always a Cool Hang at Rhythm & Riffs at Mandalay Bay. This week, host Aaron Benward is joined by sidekick Travis Howard and songwriting guests Bill Luther and Danny Myrick. The needle drops at 8 p.m. Friday, no cover, and no hassles, man.

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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