That Old Black Magic
Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and the Golden Age of Las Vegas
by Tom Clavin
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Both a love story and a tribute to the entertainment mecca, this exploration shines a spotlight on one of the hottest acts in Las Vegas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The illuminating depiction showcases the unlikely duo-a grizzled, veteran trumpeter and vocalist molded by Louis Armstrong and a meek singer in the church choir-who went on to invent The Wildest.” Bringing together broad comedy and finger-snapping, foot-stomping music that included early forays into rock and roll, Prima and Smith’s act became wildly popular and attracted all kinds of star-studded attention. In addition to chronicling their relationships with Ed Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and other well-known entertainers of the day-and their performance of That Old Black Magic” at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration-the narrative also examines the couple’s ongoing influence in the entertainment world. Running concurrent with their personal tale is their role in transforming Las Vegas from a small resort town in the desert to a booming city where the biggest stars were paid tons of money to become even bigger stars on stage and television.
- Chicago Review Press, November 2010
Chicago Review Press
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