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Strip headliner Terry Fator reveals he broke from tyrannical father’s religious sect

Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator is going public with details about growing up under the rule of a tyrannical religious zealot.

Fator said he’s been estranged from his father for nearly two decades after life became unbearable in their Texas commune.

The stunning revelations surfaced during preparatory interviews with Fator, my first guest on “Conversations with Norm.” The inaugural quarterly interview series will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The Mirage headliner said his father, Jephtha Fator, named after the biblical figure who sacrificed his daughter, informed Fator “at a very young age that I would never be allowed to be married, never be allowed to date, never be allowed to have any kind of a relation at all with a woman, because he had dedicated me to God from the time I was a child.”

Fator said that for a long time he was “mentally destroyed” by a father who “raised us with an iron fist. I was terrified of him.”

Fator’s mother, Marie, in an e-book she wrote last year and emailed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday, said she divorced Jephtha Fator after years of religious rants and threats. In the e-book, she said at one point he told her, “I can no longer handle your stubborn resistant spirit. I have asked God to kill you.”

Fator was the Season 2 winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2007, two years after he began combining ventriloquism with impersonations. He landed one of the biggest contracts on the Strip and earlier this month celebrated his fifth year at The Mirage.

Fator, who turns 49 in June, said he has not been in contact with his father since they split about 10 years ago.

After Fator and his first wife, Melinda, were divorced in 2010, Fator married Hawaii model Taylor Makakoa, his onstage assistant. She was 22.

Makakoa will join Fator onstage Sunday. They said they want to address their early relationship and clear up any misconceptions.

Shawn Tempesta of KTNV-TV, Channel 13’s “Morning Blend,” will be in the audience to take questions for Fator and his wife after the one-hour conversation.

Guests and show host personnel are donating their time to the fundraiser.

Net proceeds go to The Smith Center’s educational fund. About 100,000 students have gone through The Smith Center for performances, master classes and workshops since it opened two years ago.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

KLAS-TV, Channel 8 management announced via an interoffice email Thursday that morning co-anchor Cale Ramaker is out. The announcement read: “Effective immediately, Cale Ramaker will no longer co-anchor the morning newscast on 8 News Now. We appreciate Cale’s efforts here. He is a good journalist and a solid anchor and I wish him the best as he seeks a new opportunity.” Ramaker and Shauna Khorrami were hired in the summer of 2012 to replace Dayna Roselli and Dave McCann. There have been rumblings about Ramaker’s short temper.

SIGHTINGS

Actor Adam Sandler, dancing at his seat during “Michael Jackson One” (Mandalay Bay) on Wednesday. He was with his family. His daughters arrived at the show with illuminated gloves.

THE PUNCH LINE

“A group of Secret Service agents went to Amsterdam ahead of President Obama’s visit, but three of them were sent home after they stayed out all night drinking and one of them passed out in the hotel’s hallway. I always thought Secret Service agents wore sunglasses to look intimidating. Turns out they’re just hung over.” — Jimmy Kimmel

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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