Terry Fator, a Las Vegas Strip star, summons Sammy & Dean

Updated March 13, 2019 - 5:24 pm

We sometimes forget that Terry Fator was once a fixture on the county-fair circuit.

But Fator doesn’t.

“For years I was an ancillary part of the county-fair experience,” says Fator, celebrating his 10th anniversary at his eponymous theater at the Mirage on Friday night. “They were not there to see me perform. They were there for the fair. So, I’d put together and do a 30-minute show, and they would leave after I brought out my first puppet, and go off to see the pig-calling contest or the petting zoo.”

That changed when Fator captured the “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 championship in 2007. He moved to Las Vegas, into a proper theater, in a real resident production.

“That first night at the Mirage, I walked out thinking, ‘These people are here to watch me,’ ” Fator says, recalling his opening-night gala a decade ago. “They are not here to be at the fair.”

A decade on, Fator continues to advance his act. His upgraded show is called, “An Evening With the Stars,” with such new celeb figures as Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Stevie Wonder and Willie Nelson. Justin Bieber, too, is billed as a “new” puppet, though little Justin debuted over the holidays. Two other newbies from the Christmas production, Dolly Parton and Ozzy Osbourne (the angel and devil on Bieber’s shoulders) are also back.

Elton John, David Bowie and Paul McCartney are also in Fator’s superstar lineup. Such mainstays as Winston the Impersonating Turtle, stoner Duggie Scott Walker, country warbler Walter T. Airdale, Elvis impersonator Maynard Tompkins and, yes, Donald Trump remain in the routine.

Fator has been working with his new puppets for several weeks, incorporating them into his regular rotation. The Wonder and Nelson figures were actually produced for Fator by an artist in the Netherlands, who offered them to Fator only after creating the puppets and offering them to the star ventriloquist.

“He showed me a picture of these two puppets, and they were so beautiful, I had to have them,” Fator said. “The artist actually packed them and flew with them to Las Vegas to hand-deliver them to me.”

The expanded show marked a first in Fator’s career: A puppet fully produced for the stage that didn’t make the final cut. That distinction falls to Frank Sinatra, who was originally created for a full Rat Pack segment.

“Unfortunately, the Frank Sinatra puppet didn’t quite work. He’s good, but didn’t measure up to Dean and Sammy,” Fator says. “We’re putting him off until later. He’s just not up to snuff with the rest of them, and he needs to be, because I have the coolest-looking puppets anywhere.”

Fator says he hopes to play the Mirage for the rest of his career.

“I’m almost 54 years old, finally feeling at peace with myself,” says Fator, who says he’s never been happier in his three-year marriage to his wife, Angie Fator. “I have no headaches, I have no acid reflux (laughs). Life is good, and that comes across onstage. I think the audiences are feeling how much fun I am having onstage and how wonderful it is for me.”

A Lewis MDA challenge

Jerry Lewis’ family continues to raise money and enlist support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Lewis’s daughter, Danielle, has launched a social-media challenge campaign challenging public figures to record a quick video clip of themselves performing an impression of her late father (as in, “Hey, Laaaaaaaady!”) and posting the MDA.org website for donations.

The social-media hashtags are #HappyBirthdayJerryLewis #MDAShamrocks #MDAUSA. When you donate, click onto the box on the upper-right and note that your gift is in honor of Lewis’s 93rd birthday, which would have been this Saturday.

Those who have contributed or have been called to action thus far have been Tony Orlando, Carrot Top, Murray Sawchuck, country singer Billy Gilman, Criss Angel, Wayne Newton, Penn & Teller and Dane Cook. The campaign is ongoing, and you can find the results by using those hashtags on Instagram.

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.

Entertainment Videos
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Baked Alaska a specialty at Favorite Bistro in Las Vegas
Award-winning pastry chef Claude Escamilla makes Baked Alaska with strawberry sorbet and vanilla gelato and flames it at Favorite Bistro at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chili cooks face fierce and friendly competition at Nevada cook-off
Forty chili cooks competed in the Nevada State Chili Cookoff in Pahrump on Sunday, March 17, 2019, with the winners advancing to the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Des Moines, Iowa. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Meow Wolf opening an 'otherworldly' art experience in Las Vegas
Meow Wolf opening "otherworldly" art experience in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing