I had a friend. We didn’t always agree on things. We argued and threatened each other with words that sometimes stung. But we were friends. That person is and was Tony Sacca. I first met the man while I was doing publicity and booking a few acts here and there in the ’80s. I was approached by a friend (female), who said she needed some help getting a friend a gig—he was an entertainer. So, she dragged me to a lounge to see these two guys, Tony and Robert, who just happened to be identical twins: they were calling themselves “The Sacca Twins!”.
As the story goes they were discovered by Siegfried of the famous magic act Siegfried & Roy at a casino in Puerto Rico, and convinced them to give Las Vegas a try. I believe, not sure, that the boys got a job at the old MGM (now Bally’s) because Siegfried & Roy were at the time headlining in the main showroom. My memory is not that great anymore, but I believe I got them a gig at the Sands Hotel where I had already booked my pal, Freddie Bell, and the Vice-President of the hotel was a good friend.
Over the years we would give each other a bit of moral support—him with his television and radio shows, and me with my columns and public relations support. But, please, believe me when we did have an argument they were biggies, but we always respected each other and eventually would forget what the hell we had an argument over. That’s how friends are: almost like brothers. I remember when Robert passed away in 1999, way too early in life, and how it affected his brother. That twin thing was there. He had lost more than just a brother—he had lost half of his life. Tony tried to explain it to me once, and I couldn’t apprehend what he was telling me, as the tears were rolling down his cheeks like two waterfalls.
Tony was many things to many people. He was impish at times, he could also be very stern when needed, but he had a drive that I’ve never seen in another person who I knew personally. He re-invented himself so many times I lost count. Tony’s television shows (he was the producer along with the help of a few people in the background) were and are the history of nearly 40 years of Las Vegas entertainment. If a star was headlining a showroom, Tony Sacca somehow got them to appear on his show. He was like a shark in shallow water–when he wanted something or someone for his show he went after it. His video library will be what historians will look at in future years when they attempt to understand our strange little city in the desert.
Tony Sacca was proud of so many things: taking young entertainers to Washington D.C. to entertain at the White House; his star on the Las Vegas Walk of Fame; his annual Christmas Shows for the benefit of Youth Foundation For The Performing Arts; and his little inventions including the famous roulette clock.
Tony Sacca was a man like any man: he loved being on a stage more than anything in life; he loved beautiful women, and he loved his former wife, Darlene Mea, and when he met Josette LeBlond that was it for him. He had found his greatest love. They bonded almost immediately. They were one for 13 years. They were husband and wife. Tony Sacca was a man who walked on earth for 65 years and never looked back. He didn’t have too, he knew where he was headed and how he was going to get there—by hard work and never taking ‘no” for an answer!
For those of us who will be in the showroom at the Stratosphere Hotel Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate a life well lived, it will also be to honor a man who did “it his way” all the time, 365 days a year. He knew no other way, but “My Way!” Rest warmly Tony Sacca: Feb 20, 1951–Jan. 30, 2017.
Here is a little story as told by a man who was interviewed by Tony numerous times over the years, Bob Anderson just as he wrote it:
A well-known brilliant comedian named Pete Barbutti and I were guests on one of his early TV shows, it may have been his first. There was a large drape hanging from the ceiling directly behind Tony that had a picture on it of the Las Vegas Strip. Before Tony came out to do his short monologue, Pete hid himself behind the drape where he would come out from when introduced. Tony had it all planed for us to walk out from a different spot that made his set look a little larger than what it actually was. It was very small.
I came out first and sat on the couch next to Tony’s desk and he started to interview me and he got a little nervous and started repeating himself while searching for things to say. This went on for about 15 minutes and in the middle of the interview, Pete stepped out from behind the drape and said, “come on man…this is ridiculous. I’ve been waiting patiently for you to end this interview and bring me on but you haven’t gotten through the first question! Get up…get out of that chair and go sit next to Bob on the couch and watch how this is supposed to be done!”
Pete sat down in Tony’s chair and started to interview me and he intentionally did a carbon copy of Tony’s interview. He asked me the same question ten different ways and then he stopped and said, “hold it, hold it, it must be the chair! Anyway…that’s how you do it Tony.” Pete grabbed me by the arm and said, “come on I’m hungry”, and we left. Tony didn’t know if Pete was joking or not and heard the door slam shut. When we came back in Tony was freaking out, trying to figure out what to do for his first show. Needless to say, we came back and we all laughed till we cried. So, did the one camera man. He only had one camera man. Tony was a strong believer in Jesus Christ and he’s probably telling Jesus this story right now, …’cause it was one that Tony never forgot.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Iconic comedian Louie Anderson, the three-time Emmy Award® winner, is one of the country’s most recognized and adored comics; named by Comedy Central as “One of 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time,” will be at the Red Rock Hotel/Casino Friday, Feb. 17, & Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. His career has spanned more than 30 years. Anderson is a best-selling author, star of his own stand-up specials and sitcoms and he continues to tour the country performing to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.
In 2016 Anderson was cast to co-star along with Zach Galifianakis and Martha Kelly in the hit FX comedy series Baskets. Anderson plays the extraordinary role of Christine, the matriarch of the Baskets clan. He based the character on his mother and his five sisters who were all a major presence in his life. Anderson won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Christine Baskets in 2016.
Johnny Carson, the comedy icon for generations of rising stars, invited Louie to make his national television debut on the “The Tonight Show” in 1984, and the rest is history. Leno, Letterman, “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Comic Relief” and Showtime, HBO and CMT specials followed, including hosting the legendary game show, Family Feud, making Louie a household name and opening doors for him as an actor. He has guest starred in sitcoms like “Grace Under Fire” and dramas like “Touched by an Angel” and “Chicago Hope,” and he has had memorable featured roles in film comedies like “Coming to America,” opposite of Eddie Murphy, and the classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” In 2013, he took a dive on the ABC reality series, “Splash” where he conquered his own fears while becoming an inspiration of hope. His standup Special, “Big Baby Boomer” premiered on CMT, in 2013. Also in that year, he competed and inspired on the ABC reality competition show, Splash.
When not in production, Louie continues to tour, traveling the States doing what Louie loves to do, Stand-Up Comedy. Louie again delivers to his fans his inimitable brand of humor and warmth. This is an all-ages show; those under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.
Well, gang, I’m heading for San Diego this week to receive my San Diego High School diploma, the one I never received because I joined the Air Force just as the Korean War broke out. Many states honor veterans of World War II and the Korean War who didn’t graduate with this honor. I will have more information after the trip. It appears they are really going all out for me: sorta like “bad boy returns as good boy” type of thing.