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Gans closes out tonight at Mirage

Vocal impressionist Danny Gans is closing his 1,639th and final show with a special performance at The Mirage tonight.

His Mirage farewell, after a run of 81/2 years, "is going to be something I've never done before," said Gans, who is moving a block up the Strip to Steve Wynn's Encore hotel.

Gans has heard Burt Reynolds is coming to the finale, and he'll have many friends and family on hand.

Rehearsals start Jan. 5 at his new venue, with opening night set for Feb. 10.

Of the many nights when big names showed up, two stand out.

About six years ago, "Rocky' star Sylvester Stallone came to the show.

"He was such a big hero of mine when I was playing college baseball (at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo). I was in a real slump and then the ("Rocky") movie came out and inspired me so much I ended up having an All-American year.

Aware that Stallone was in the crowd, Gans performed a tribute. "I didn't do it funny. I did it straight ahead. When I finished I shielded my eyes from the spotlight and looked for him. He was on his feet leading the ovation."

As Stallone and his wife were getting ready to leave after visiting Gans backstage, Gans asked a parting question about Stallone's workout regimen.

Stallone's wife waved goodnight, knowing what was coming. Stallone sat down and shared tips at length about weightlifting and workouts.

Then there was the night Tiger Woods came backstage.

"All he wanted to talk about was how I do the female singers' voices -- 'how do you do Macy Gray?' -- and all I wanted to talk about was how to cure my slice."

RELIVING RAT PACK DAYS

Good-guy Mike Kennedy celebrated his 70th birthday in old Vegas-style Friday.

Tons of friends flew in for the party, which included, appropriately, the Rat Pack Tribute at the Plaza.

A pal of Rat Pack icon Dean Martin, Kennedy spent his days working at the Max Factor store at the Stardust and his nights as a shill. Shills were planted in an audience to laugh, applaud and play along with the entertainer's schtick.

In the mid-1950s, Kennedy spent many a night as the "date" of film star Kim Novak, who was having an affair with Sammy Davis Jr.

"But the world couldn't know that," said Kennedy. "It would have ruined both of them."

That was back in the segregated days when black entertainers couldn't stay in Strip hotels. Davis had quarters in a trailer house behind a Strip hotel, Kennedy said.

Kennedy was in the audience one night when Mickey Rooney, a superstar at the time, turned to the crowd after Davis' second encore and spoke his mind.

"He was a feisty little guy. He said, 'You all just paid money to see this man entertain you and he has to walk through the kitchen. You all walked through the front door. I'll never come back and I recommend you do the same.'" Rooney never gets credit for it, said Kennedy, but he was one of the first to speak out against the segregation policy.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

R-J director of photography Jeff Scheid, who on good days admits to being my brother, left the land of double-digit cocktail prices and found a heckuva deal Friday at Al and Vic's Bar in Missoula, Mont. A sign behind the bar read: "Sunday special: Montana margarita ... A can of Oly (Olympia) and a lime. $1.25." ...

She's only 19, but rising star Hayden Panettiere of the hit TV series "Heroes," already has a handbag fashion line. She's in town today to unveil her Hayden Clutch at Dooney & Bourke in The Venetian from 6-8 p.m.

SIGHTINGS

Grammy-winning singer Pink and motocross legend Carey Hart, who announced they were separating earlier this year, were seen having lunch together Friday at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (Forum Shops at Caesars) ... Donny Osmond, singing Elvis' 1969 hit "Suspicious Minds" at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar (Harrah's) with Harrah's president Don Marrandino and the John Eddie Band. Donny Jr., 29, watched the show, which was a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll.

THE PUNCH LINE

"The economy is so bad that today on Oprah Winfrey's show, she gave everybody in the audience a car . . . company." - David Letterman

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

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