Combustible Vegas

Former Las Vegas denizen Peter Cudahy rates the casino-circuit greats:

* Neil Diamond: "I don't know what happened to Neil Diamond; I think it has something to do with his systematic repudiation of his Judaic heritage. I wonder what his family thinks of that Christmas record? 'Neeeil, have you forgotten?' He's very much a Vegas act, but a quality one."

* Wayne Newton: "He used to put on the most entertaining show in Vegas. He went bankrupt and moved to the Sands, which is now closed, so I don't know what he's doing, but apparently his show has just suffered drastically. It straddled the line between being brilliant Vegas-style entertainment, and then there were portions when it was only enjoyable in a way like slapping your forehead and saying 'Good God, what next?' He sort of gave you the best of both worlds. You just had to put your regular critical faculties aside and enjoy it. If nothing else, it was so Vegas."

* Ann-Margret: "[She] was pretty good, although she never looked right after she fell on her face out of that cherry picker."

* Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Lewis: "Seriously, the best I ever saw was the Sammy Davis/Jerry Lewis show. I'm specifically referring to the Sammy Davis part. He was one of the most incredible performers I've ever seen. With nothing ironic or anything, just incredible, so moving. He would take "Mr. Bojangles," a song I never particularly cared for, and I was ready to cry. It was just incredible.

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