Jack Benny, Actor, Las Vegas, Nevada and Beverly Sills, Opera Contralto, Tulsa, Oklahoma

by Ms. Sandy Skinner
(Tulsa, OK)

I saw Jack Benny as the main attraction at the new Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada in about 1966. John Davidson was his opening act and our table was directly in front of the stage for a truly bird's eye view of the entire show. The following day, I was in the gift shop and saw Mr. Benny and I approached him. I stated how much we enjoyed his show the night before and told him we shared the same interest in music because I also played the violin and viola. He played his violin during his show the night before. He was very kind and pleasant and autographed the photo taken of our party at our table that showed how close we were to the stage. I no longer have this photo. It was a night to remember and the following day was spectacular to see him in the Caesars Palace gift shop and he was kind enough to visit with me and autograph my photograph taken the night before. He was a true gentleman with a genuine smile and gentle laughter!

My second encounter was with Beverly Sills at the "Old Lady on Brady" in about October of 1970, when she was performing in a beautiful opera (La Traviata?). It was called the Municipal Theatre and the facility was old and worn out. The beautiful and large marble public ladies room was flooded with toilets overflowing and all the ladies in evening gowns and fur coats were have to hold them up to keep from getting wet. All of us had wet evening shoes. When the performance was over, Beverly Sills walked onto the stage and chastised the Tulsa Community (which is quite wealthy from the oil boom days) and Ms. Sills stated that the toilet in her dressing room had also flooded her dressing room! She was brave and courageous to take on the many Tulsa Millionaires, Oil Men, Doctors, Business Men, etc. and tell them to build a new Performing Arts Center! The Chapman Family financed this project and it opened in less than two years as the Chapman Performing Arts Center in Downtown Tulsa. Beverly Sills made a difference. I met her about an hour later at a "late champagne brunch" at the Summit Club on the top floor of the Fourth National Bank Building. She walked over to our table and we stood up and shook her hand and told her how much we enjoyed her performance. We also told her how much we appreciated her telling the Tulsa Arts Community that Tulsa desperately needed a new performing arts center. We have the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Philharmonic, Tulsa Theatre Company, just to name a few, and we got the new Chapman Performing Arts Center because of a beautiful and gracious lady with a beautiful voice that was truly a gift from God! I miss her has passing last year.

NOTE: Many of my personal photographs are lost or in storage because it was long ago. Therefore, I am unable to submit the autographed photo from Jack Benny. It was very late and I did not ask for Beverly Sills autograph and no pictures were taken.

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