Nort, an original Copa Girl, saw Strip stars

As one of the original Copa Girls, Charlotte Nort had a front and center view when the who’s who showed up to see why Las Vegas was the place to be.

Nort, who died Tuesday at the age of 86, witnessed an era when every night seemed like New Year’s.

The raging ’60s had arrived, with the Rat Pack show at The Sands lighting up Las Vegas.

Opening for the Rat Pack was, in Nort’s words, “the biggest thing,” she told me during a Copa Girls reunion at Piero’s Italian Cuisine a year ago in November.

She had a pre-show habit. She would peek through the curtains to see who she recognized or to watch a dance routine.

One night — she thought it was New Year’s Eve 1960 — she was peering through the curtain opening when “I heard a voice behind me say, ‘Happy New Year, dear.’ I turned around and saw these two blue eyes.”

It was, of course, Frank Sinatra.

Another night, Nort recalled seeing Sinatra’s pal John F. Kennedy in the audience, early in his 1960 presidential campaign.

Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe was spotted during another show.

“My mother and her sister, Jane Manners, grew up in St. Louis and became June Taylor dancers. They performed on Broadway,” said Nort’s son, Charles Nort, a Las Vegas resident.

The sisters came to Las Vegas in the early 1950s for what they thought would be a two-week engagement. She met and quickly married Morris Nort, who ran a Cadillac dealership on Fremont Street. They lived in one of the first homse on the Desert Inn golf course, now the Wynn Las Vegas golf course.

“When my father passed away in 1954, Jack Entratter (the legendary Sands president and entertainment director) made mother one of the original Copa Girls. She helped Rene Arnold choreograph many of the routines, including the night Kennedy was there.

“Sammy Davis Jr. was very fond of my mom,” Charles Nort said. Davis, after doing a couple of Western films, gave Charlotte Nort an 1873 Winchester rifle “they dug up,” Charles Nort said. “That’s something we should take down the ‘Pawn Stars,’ shouldn’t we?”

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 13 at Palm Mortuary on Eastern.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

When comedian Kathy Griffin returns to The Mirage on April 18, she will have a new title: new host of E!’s “Fashion Police.” Griffin replaces the late Joan Rivers, who died in September. Griffin will be joining holdovers Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic. The newcomer will be celeb stylist Brad Goreski and former star of Bravo’s “It’s a Brad, Brad World.”…

Miss Rodeo America Paige Nicholson of Mississippi and national Little Britches Rodeo Princess Josie Lindburg received proclamations at the Clark County commissioners meeting on Tuesday. The Miss Rodeo Pageant is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the MGM Grand Hollywood Theatre.

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning group Lady Antebellum, hit solo artist David Nall and fast-rising duo Maddie & Tae will perform Friday at a special concert at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center as part of the National Finals Rodeo festivities.

SIGHTINGS

Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, taking a ride on the High Roller at The Linq Promenade on Tuesday with the Sprint Cup trophy. He’s in town for NASCAR Champions Week.

THE PUNCH LINE

“I’m not surprised that a man my age has not asked me out in a while. They’ve all been too busy shooting ‘Expendables 3.’ ” — One of Rivers’ last tweets.

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter.

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