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Bennett’s run-in with mob hitman

A Tony Bennett-Tony Spilotro connection surfaced last week - three decades later - and small wonder that it took this long.

The legendary crooner is lucky to be alive after getting on Spilotro's bad side, according to Bennett biographer David Evanier.

A "reliable source" told Evanier that Spilotro, a reputed mob hitman who terrorized Las Vegas in the 1970s and '80s, confronted Bennett about spending, ahem, time with Spilotro's girl.

Evanier, a former senior editor of the Paris Review, wrote the 2011 unauthorized biography, "All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett."

The biographer told the New York Daily News that he didn't add it to the book because he didn't learn about it until after the book came out last summer.

According to Evanier, Spilotro's showdown with Bennett most likely took place in 1979 when Bennett was performing with the late Lena Horne at the Sahara.

Bennett was going through a rough patch in his career at the time and was separated from second wife Sandra Grant, Evanier said.

When Spilotro learned Bennett was stepping out with his gal, Bennett got whacked, but in a good way, all things considered.

Spilotro supposedly grabbed a thick telephone book and slammed Bennett in the head with it, "laying him out," according to the story. Joe Pesci's character in "Casino" was inspired by Spilotro.

Bennett checked into rehab a short time later and, according to Evanier, started turning around his sagging career.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

It was a night of firsts and a last: saw The Smith Center's stunning Cabaret Jazz venue for the first time Saturday, along with the new Clint Holmes, and later the Playboy Club at the Palms for the last time. Both the cabaret venue and Holmes hit it out of the park. The Playboy Club went out on a high note, with magnums of bubbly and confetti exploding like it was a Hef-ervescent New Year's Eve party.

SIGHTINGS

On the Miss USA pageant red carpet Sunday: Donald Trump, Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza and "Celebrity Apprentice" winner Arsenio Hall; Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner and Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey, and Miss USA 2012 judges Joe Jonas, Marilu Henner, chef Cat Cora, Rob Kardashian and Tia Carrere ... George Clooney's galpal, Stacy Keibler, dining with friends at Joe's Stone Crab (Forum Shops at Caesars) on Saturday. ... "Let's Make a Deal" host Wayne Brady, celebrating his 40th birthday at The Mirage on Saturday with many of his show business friends, including Drew Carey of "The Price is Right" and Terry Fator and his wife Taylor Makakoa. Later Brady headed to 1 Oak nightclub (Mirage) and hung out with Sinbad, Joey Fatone, Jonathan Mangum and Carey. ... Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars," with his family backstage Saturday after taking in Murray SawChuck's shot at the Tropicana. SawChuck is a magic advisor on "Pawn Stars." ... "Dancing With the Stars" pro Derek Hough, celebrating his 27th birthday at Tabú on Saturday. ... Kourtney Kardashian's beau Scott Disick, having a 29th birthday party at 1 Oak on Friday. ... Gretchen Christine Rossi of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," hosting Bling Beach at Tao Beach (The Venetian) on Saturday. The most blinged out swimsuit won $5,000. ... "Dancing With the Stars" pro Cheryl Burke, dining at Lavo (Palazzo) on Saturday. ... At Tao Asian Bistro on Saturday: E! News personality Giuliana Rancic, who was in town to co-host the Miss USA pageant. Also at the Tao restaurant: Audrina Patridge, former star of "The Hills." ... Former NFL running back Clinton Portis, finishing dinner at N9NE Steakhouse (Palms) on Saturday with a lemon drop shot.

THE PUNCH LINE

"I think one of the reasons I'm popular again is because I'm wearing a tie. You have to be different." - Tony Bennett

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

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