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Clint Holme's reflects on his career and his 6-year-run in Vegas, which comes to an end Saturday (09/30/06).

Article reprinted from Las Vegas Celebrity Gossip - Luxe Life with Robin Leach - AOL Vegas

Original article here

 



 

"Clint Holmes Says Goodbye" by Robin Leach


Iíve known Clint Holmes as a good friend since the early 80ís when I hired him to do some special showbiz reporting for the then young Entertainment Tonight daily show. Our paths have crisscrossed ever since, thru Manhattan, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo and now Vegas, which weíve both called home in recent years. Heís now 60, and has decided heís got one last big dream to achieve; he wants to bring the musical of his extraordinary life story to Broadway. But, thatís a journey that must begin first in London, where both he and I were born. Itís a courageous gamble when youíre sitting pretty and comfortable as a Vegas headliner in your own theater at a major Strip hotel. But, as you are about to read in our exclusive and candid interview -- just 4-days before the curtain comes down Saturday, Sept 30 on his 6-year-run for the last time -- his life has always been about closing chapters and opening new ones!


Clint Holmes at the piano. Clint's last show at Harrah's is this Saturday.

RL: Talk about the chapters in the life of Clint Holmes. This is the closing of a chapter, the opening of a new one, yet again, Talk about that and reflect on the 6 years in Vegas.

CH: Growing up in alittle bitty town in up state New York, I remember when I would watch television and I watched the Mickey Mouse club and I would think that if I lived in California I would be on that. I found that singing is what I did. Maybe from me coming from a turbulent marriage and the little town that we lived in, it was my only place to be. My only point of identification was that I could sing and people would smile and clap and like me. So I went to college as a voice major and that was my first freedom. I got involved with my first girlfriend and I then went into the Army and I am just going through chapter. I was fortunate, this was the late 60ís, I heard about the Army music program and I played trombone as well. I found out that if I enlisted for three years I could be in the program where as, if I was drafted, they would do with me what they wanted to. So, I enlisted to play trombone. And the greatest miracle that was in my life was that, while I was in the school of music, learning the marches and stuff, I had mentioned to people that I would really rather sing and they all said well, we donít need singers, we need trombone players. I would never hear that again in my life. The captain of the school of music was being promoted and his motherís name was Alfie and so they came to me and asked if I could sing this song, all about Alfie. I said yes and I sang the song for his commencement. He cried, his mother cried and then he promoted me three ranks the next day and then kept me at the school of music and I started singing and I would sing at all the functions.

RL: Not too many people came out of the Army and went into show business.

CH: That is probably true, but there were a few singers in that chorus one of them is with the Metropolitan Opera Company with Richard Stillwell. Because the war was Vietnam and nobody wanted to go over there, when they came in the great singers went to the chorus.So that is why there were really some great musicians that stayed out of Vietnam. So that takes us to the 70ís and then I got out of the army and I started working locally, and then Paradise Island in the Bahamas, one night I was singing in the lounge and I did my Johnny Mathis impression and a guy comes up to me and said, you know I am Johnny Mathisís record producer and he said I have a song that I would like you to record. This is 1973 and I said fine, I took his card and when I left the islands, I went back to Washingtonwhere I was living and I went to New York and he played my this song that was like my name is MichaelÖand I said well thatís cute and we recorded it and Clive Davis the presidentof Epic Records/Sony heard it and thought it was cute and wanted to put it out around Christmas time and it became a regional hit by July of 74, it was the number 2 song in the country. So, that was my calling card. I began to work lounges and opening for Cosby and so those were the two little miracles, singing in the lounge they talk about that all the time, the breaks and they say when the breaks happen you have to be prepared.


Yours truly and Clint Holmes.

RL: So that was the gypsy chapter of your life going all around?

CH: Yeah all around. Then I lived in LA for a while in the 80ís and traveled and traveled where we worked together in Monte Carlo. Performing in the Joan Rivers stint as her announcer for a couple of years, and then I got my own TV show in 1991 in New York on UPN's WOR so I moved my family to New Jersey and did that show, it lasted a year, we won an Emmy and then the station was sold and the show was gone. That is when I dove into comfortable shoes and wrote a play that was produced twice once in the Paper Playhouse in New Jersey and then again in Chicago a few years ago. In 1991 when the show was cancelled, this is what is interesting. The show was well received in the Paper Playhouse it was optioned to by Marty Rivers and Sam Caruthers they loved it. We did a workshop and the money fell through. It was 1997, I had taken no work for a year to work on this play and I was taking no work and in a few weeks the plan was that we were going regional and then we were going to Broadway. Money fell through and there I was. That is when Steve Wynn called and invited me to come here. So, in 1999 I came to the Golden Nugget for 8 months. Steve Wynn said "I will pay you for 8 months even if we close the show in 2 weeks." So, I cancelled whatever work I had and I came out here and the room was built for Sinatra and there was no one making it work and he felt that if anyone was going to make it work it would be me, so he gave me that opportunity. I donít know if we did make it work but what did work was people saw me and it was during that run that Tom Jenkins from Harrahís saw me and this became a six-year run that has just been amazing. That has been another huge chapter of my life.  

RL: So what does six years mean for you in Vegas? I always felt, knowing you as long as I have, that you came home when you arrived in Vegas without really knowing it.

CH: Wow. That is a great way of putting it. I think I know what you mean. All my life I looked up to the Sammyís and Frank Sinatra. For cabaret performers, Vegas is the ultimate. So, yeah, coming here in a real way, not just as an act opening up for somebody but coming here in a main position performing in a showroom that they eventually named after me, with the best band anyone could hope for was coming home. It really was. I look at it as there is a next chapter and it is time to do that but so many things have happened I am divorced which I never thought would ever happen I was married for 36 years to a great woman. I had cancer, I have gotten to know so many people so well and I have gotten to stand on the shoulders of those that I admired all of my life.

RL: I am guessing that it must be bittersweet but how does it feel to be relinquishing your theater to another person, comedienne Rita Rudner who is your friend?

CH: Yeah I am giving it to Rita. It is bittersweet. And it gets less sweet and more bitter every night. Iím joking. I talked to her about it: She was extremely gracious. She said to Harrahís that she didnít want to make an announcement until Clint is ready to make an announcement. She didnít want to say I am coming to Harrahís before I had a chance to say I am leaving Harrahís. I couldnít relinquish it to a classier, more talented person, so that part is great and that I am really ready to move on to the next chapter. Those are the upsides. The downsides are that this is the perfect situation for an entertainer and you know as well as I do that theater Broadway is incredibly risky and 95% of the shows that go there. Donít stay there. But it is a dream and I am 60 years old.



RL: So, has this musical been eating at you for over a decade? Does that have to come out before you die?

CH: Actually this is a new piece and there are some elements of ďthe ĎComfy Shoesí musical because part of it is about my family, my mom, my dad, my life, but this piece extends to being an entertainer and in the footsteps of the people that I talk about. This was a town that until the 50ís was racially divided. You know Sammy Davis could sell out a nightclub, but couldnít walk through the front door. It was people like Sinatra that changed all of that. The working title is Breathe. As in we all must breathe to live. (ED: the show is now called 'Just Another Man'. ) The story starts in London because it starts with my mom and my dad. As you know my mom is British and that is where they met and that is where I was born. Also because New York is run by one newspaper with a lot of power. London, for someone starting out in this business may be a more even playing field. I went to London recently and I went to a lot of theater and something about it just clicked to me. I mean I want to end up in New York and I want my shot at Broadway because that is the ultimate prize. The plan is that we are doing the workshop here in Vegas in October and November, regional theater somewhere out of the limelight. It wonít be New York, it wonít be Chicago, it wonít be LA It could be Albuquerque, Minneapolis also has a great theater, San Diego Salt Lake City there is a lot and then London which we are very close to that which we can talk about off camera if youíd like. So, that will hopefully happen in the spring.

RL: So you are going to stay in Vegas?

CH: Yeah I live here. And I will do gigs and I play Constitution Hall in Washington in December, which is exciting. I have never done that. I have Atlantic City dates and up in Connecticut too. You know I will do things like that while I am working on the piece.

RL: Youíll go to London and then on to Broadway, but eventually you come back to Vegas? We arenít going to lose you?

CH: Absolutely. Thank you for seeing it that way but I would not want to lose Vegas forever, this is home. For a nightclub entertainer it is the ultimate home. I would come back here for the rest of my career, whether it be on a continuing basis or whether it be 6 times a year we will see, but I live here. Harrah's said right away we want to keep you in the family so hopefully that will happen. I would open for George Wallace anytime he asked. I love him.

RL: Let's highlight six years of Vegas. Obviously a highpoint would be beating cancer, but professional nights. What moments in this theater stick out?

CH: The night they named the theater after me, which was very special. The Governor was here and a lot of friends flew in all over the country. It was an amazing night to come up the escalator and see the Clint Holmes Theater. When you asked me that the first thing that popped intomy head was the night that Hal Prince came to the show while he was getting 'Phantom of the Opera' ready. I am a theater buff and his 'Westside Story' is probably my all time favorite, He has more Tony Awards than anybody else. When we found out that he was coming and he actually did come was that because everyone had told him that the one show he has to see when he comes was my show not knowing what to expect. Afterwards he came downstairs and he hugged me and he said that is probably the greatest evening I have ever spent in a nightclub. We did our Westside story piece and he said you absolutely killed me with the Westside Story piece. It was the only show that he saw in town. He said he would be my ally while I am working on the Broadway piece. That was a magic night. Those two nights stick out and the night when Sammy Davis came in and gave me the Sammy Davis Jr. Foundation award carrying on the Legacy and that was obviously a very specials night. And the night when Jenna Jameson came and sat in the third row and the entire band was in rapture!


LEFT: Clint and I demonstrate our secret handshake. RIGHT: Clint in his trademark white suit.

RL: So what do you think in these final days? Four nights to go! On Saturday night do you think there will be tears?

CH: I was talking to Larry Moss, the director of my play about it, and it's funny because I know there will be a lot of friends here and a lot of people who have sent he show many times, my first instinct was to go out and make the show somehow a little different. And he said you know I think that is the wrong approach I think what people really want to see is the show. They have heard a lot of the jokes before but I think they will be thinking that this is the last time we are going to be seeing this show. And I think that is good advice so that is what I plan to do. But I know that they are going to do a presentation and I know that I am going to say something to my band and to the people that I have worked with for 6.5 years. I donít expect to be an emotional wreck but I do expect to be emotional because that is how it is.

RL: When I was driving here I was thinking about how I was gong to structure this interview and I thought about your life by chapters, but next Saturday night is a real close of an almost final chapter?

CH: It is and if I were a fearful or a smart person I wouldnít be doing it this way. There is a certain freedom in my life now that I want to enjoy. I mean my kids are grown and I am single and there is that responsibility to my family including Brenda, and I am healthy but I can go out there and do everything that I have ever done. I donít know where I will be in 5 years, but I donít want to look back when I am 70 and say I wish. I know I could fall on my butt, I could say in 6 months from now that I never got it off of the ground. And if so then I will pick the pieces up and come back and work or do whatever I have to do. So it doesnít scare me, but I have been very fortunate for over 6 years and I have had the checks cleared every single week. So I am going back out into a world that is not as clear-cut comfortable or with as nicer people as here. But Iíve always been a person about change and so this is exciting. If I had to weigh it I would say it is 80% exciting and 20% very scary.
 


 

 

"If Not Now When"
Just
Released



 
 
 

"Just Another Man"

Clint's newest autobiographical musical is planned for preview to a Las Vegas audience in late May
 

 

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