Tony Bennett to celebrate Caesars’ 50th anniversary at private gala

Tony Bennett didn’t get to open Caesars Palace, but he is the one who lived long enough to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a private concert gala Aug. 6, three days after he turns 90.

You have to know someone — or establish an impressive line of credit — to get into that one. But there also will be a big fireworks show for all to see at 10:20 p.m. on Aug. 5, the resort’s actual opening night in 1966.

The late Andy Williams inaugurated the Circus Maximus showroom that night, but Bennett was the second headliner from Aug. 25 through Sept. 7, 1966.

Bennett recalled a few years ago how he had once loaned $500 to a New York friend named Dave Victorson, who later called him to announce, “You’re gonna go to work for me. I just became the entertainment director for a new place called Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.”

For a few years, Bennett was paired with everyone from band leaders Buddy Rich and Woody Herman to comedian Henny Youngman, ’60s “it girl” Joey Heatherton and Dean Martin’s Golddiggers.

But when Frank Sinatra walked in late 1970 after a casino-floor altercation with a hotel executive, Bennett followed.

Bennett told management he wanted out of his contract, explaining, “If you do that to Sinatra, what are you gonna do to me someday?”

Bennett isn’t the only name returning for the gala. The bill also includes 1990s headliner Howie Mandel and Wayne Newton, who rotated with the likes of Diana Ross, Ann-Margret and Tom Jones in the early ’80s.

Current headliners Donny and Marie Osmond, the Righteous Brothers and Matt Goss also are promised for the gala.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

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