Rivers honors word to newlyweds

Greg Smith, owner of the Little Church of the West since 1983, has seen tons of celebrities show up in wedding parties.

In most cases, the celebrities had a history with the wedding couple.

When Joan Rivers showed up at the chapel in May 1986, the backstory was priceless. She had struck up a conversation with a Phoenix couple the night before at her show at Caesars Palace.

Smith was at the chapel the day Rivers arrived to serve as maid of honor. “She was with a security guard from Caesars Palace. He was in the wedding too,” Smith said.

Rivers was there because she had engaged in her usual banter with audience members. When she learned Victoria Vincent and Michael Nick had been together for 10 years, she needled them for not being married and called Vincent “a tramp.”

Playing along, the couple said they would get married if Rivers would be the maid of honor. Rivers agreed.

They called Rivers at 2 p.m. the next day and she made good on her promise.

“She was one of those people who kept her word,” Smith said.

The comedy legend died Thursday, a week after complications from minor elective surgery on her throat. She was 81.

Flamingo headliner Olivia Newton-John shared this story on her website after Rivers’ death:

In 2008, Rivers joined Newton-John for the latter’s 250-mile fundraising walk on the Great Wall of China.

“She had on red high heels — she took a few very difficult steps up the stony uneven stairs of the Great Wall and on camera takes off her high heels and says, ‘Olivia, I thought you said this was the Great Mall of China!’

“Unforgettable wit and generosity,” Newton-John said. “I will miss her.”

Close friend Preston Bailey, a celebrity wedding planner and event designer for the elite, decorated Rivers’ hospital suite with flowers, bows and plants.

The New York Daily News reported Rivers was covered by a white faux mink blanket while a CD of the Broadway hit “Oklahoma!” played in her room.

When Bailey and his partner, Grammy-nominated musician Theo Bleckmann, were married on Valentine’s Day this year on the 21st floor of the Empire State Building, Rivers was the officiant.

A GONDOLIER’S AMAZING JOURNEY

Joshua Guerrero’s remarkable story ranks among the best feel-good stories of the year.

Guerrero loved singing so much that, after leaving a seminary, he landed a job as a singing gondolier on The Venetian’s re-creation of Venice’s Grand Canal.

He was a crooner on the Strip and the Los Angeles nightclub circuit, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Last week, while competing with the most promising opera stars from around the world, Guerrero, 31, won two awards in Plácido Domingo’s annual Operalia competition, including a second-place finish.

The annual event was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

The local film community is in an uproar over reports that Gov. Brian Sandoval is considering diverting a large chunk of the hard-won film tax incentives program to help fund the massive Tesla gigafactory deal. The four-year pilot program was enacted this year. One email I received called for a “flood” of emails to be directed to the governor’s office, the governor’s office of economic development and the state Senate and Assembly “letting them know that we don’t want to give up our industry for 1 factory that’s already getting more incentives than they asked for.” …

Arena Football League legend Aaron Garcia was in town this weekend to interview for the head coach job of the Las Vegas Outlaws, which is owned by Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil and his group. Garcia broke John Elway’s California school passing records in just two seasons. Garcia owns almost every passing record in the indoor league. …

Bryce Krausman and Dalton Wilson, co-owners of DW Bistro, appear on “Pressure Cooker” tonight with two other teams on the FYI Channel (10 p.m.). Krausman describes it as “a cross between ‘The Amazing Race’ and ‘Chopped.’ ” They’re given a map in Burlington, Vt., and three hours to race and cook.

SIGHTINGS

NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, dining at Aquaknox (The Venetian) on Friday. … Beyonce’s sis, Solange Knowles, DJing the after party for Kevin Hart &Friends Comedy All-Stars at Rose.Rabbit.Lie (Cosmopolitan) on Friday. In the crowd: singer Keri Hilson, NBA analyst Kenny Smith, Kevin Frazier of “Entertainment Tonight, actor Jay Ellis and Terrence J of “E! News.” … At Fizz (Forum Shops at Caesars) on Friday: David Spade and UFC star Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, with his wife at a bachelorette party. … Luxor headliner Carrot Top filmed an episode of “Glee” on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was the lead-off guest Tuesday on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

THE PUNCH LINE

“It is a sad day for us in the comedy community. We lost Joan Rivers, one of the all-time greats. It is terribly sad. I just hope that when Joan meets the man upstairs, he’s wearing something she can insult.” — Craig Ferguson

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

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