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Ailing Stupak has had plenty of success, controversy on his wild ride

For my money there has been no wilder, crazier casino promoter in Las Vegas than Bob Stupak.

Now, family friends confirm Stupak, gambling huckster, Vegas visionary and kamikaze-style poker player, is very sick. At 67, he suffers from medical maladies that include leukemia.

The son of a Pittsburgh gambling boss, Stupak made his own mark in Las Vegas with the hilariously gaudy Vegas World and then with the incredible Stratosphere Tower. He has had plenty of success and almost as much controversy in his life, but oh what a wild ride.

Creating the Stratosphere Tower alone should earn Stupak a spot in anyone’s casino hall of fame.

VEGAS CHAZZ: His one-man play “A Bronx Tale” doesn’t open at The Venetian until Oct. 7, but true to his blue-collar work ethic Chazz Palminteri is promoting the autobiographical story that promises to make memories on the Strip.

I like the fact local boys-made-good John Gaughan, Trent Othick and Matt Othick are producing it and played an instrumental role in placing it on Broadway. Vince Schettler, Phil Ivey and Bob Moretti also share producer credits.

From Broadway to the Boulevard, “A Bronx Tale” figures to be part of the Strip entertainment scene for a long time.

WAYNE’S WORLD: Credit Tropicana officials and Chairman Alex Yemenidjian for taking their best shot at reviving the casino resort by bringing in Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton. Newton will give the Tropicana a little character again.

The deal was done with help behind the scenes from the ubiquitous Jack Wishna.

GOODMAN’S STRIKE: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has thrown out a first pitch more than once at Major League Baseball spring training games at Cashman Field. He hasn’t come close to the plate. His aim was so wild, you’d almost think he’d been drinking.

But on Monday morning at the new Lorenzi Park to celebrate the start of the World Masters Senior Softball Tournament, Goodman unleashed a called strike.

Suspecting something untoward had occurred, I asked Las Vegas Senior Softball Association board member Joe Callo the real story.

“I told the umpire, ‘I don’t care if that ball crosses the plate. Call it a strike,’ ” Callo said.

Gravity being what it is, the ball was called a strike. The crowd cheered, and the 125-team tournament commenced.

When you get a chance, check out the new Lorenzi ballfields. They’re emeralds and long overdue in that care-worn part of the valley.

YALE’S GIRL: The Boulevard notes the passing of Toby Cohen, widow of late Stardust executive Yale Cohen and a Vegas gal from the casino racket’s golden age. She died Sunday at age 93.

Toby accompanied her husband and children to Las Vegas from Cleveland in 1958. Yale was a fixture at the Stardust until 1980.

BENEATH THE NEON: Local author Matthew O’Brien scored a coup this week with an interview on ABC News. The subject was the people who live in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas. O’Brien is the author of “Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.”

LV OPEN: If you haven’t heard of Asia Muhammad and Sabrina Capannolo, chances are good you soon will as the Las Vegas residents ascend the world tennis rankings. Both will compete in the USTA Lexus of Las Vegas Open tournament, which starts Sunday at Red Rock Country Club. The tournament runs through Oct. 4 and is Nevada’s only professional tennis event.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Underdog Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Amodei, state senator and Carson City lawyer, is making the rounds in Southern Nevada and reminding people he’s very much alive despite a Wikipedia prankster’s efforts. If he can get through a crowded GOP primary, Amodei could prove a real challenge for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. … Speaking of Reid, his hammerlock to secure $2.3 billion in health care funding for low-income Nevadans figures to arrive at just the right time for this suffering state.

BOULEVARD II: Private investigator Eddie LaRue still has the local scene wired. Legally, of course. … I will miss my time-share man, Jimmy Fagel, who died Sunday at age 66. This means only one thing: Somewhere in the hereafter, the fast-talking boys are selling condos. Which is good, because they’re not selling many here.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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