THE GOOD OLD DAYS (AND NIGHTS)
By: Jose Antonio
Jose Antonio had a long career choreographing, producing and dancing in shows in Las Vegas, Hollywood, Europe and the Mid-East. He is also a master chef and restaurateur.
Some of my best Las Vegas memories are from working at the original, single level, Flamingo Hotel where for eight years I choreographed and danced in numerous editions of my ‘Nymphs of the Nile’ and ‘Fiesta Bravo” shows as well as occasionally choreographing an act for a star or two.
The Flamingo shows were my first such endeavors and at that time I never thought that a couple of years later I’d have five different shows playing at the same time in hotel lounges along the Las Vegas Strip. They were the Sahara, Thunderbird, Stardust and Flamingo. Those were certainly the days!
I was hired at the Flamingo around the mid-1960’s at which time one of the owners and the man I considered to be the boss was Florida hotelman Morris Lansburgh. He placed a lot of emphasis on having hotel employees be especially friendly and welcoming to guests – the art of which he was a master. He remembered names and faces and when he’d observe familiar guests he would always make it a point to greet them.
One night in the Flamingo lounge after the show I met a charming lady who was in Las Vegas getting a divorce and in need of consolation. Early the next morning as I began walking along a hallway to leave the hotel I saw Mr. Lansburgh not too far ahead of me. He stood in front of a typical hallway-furniture arrangement and, although he was alone, seemed to be talking to someone. I didn’t want him to see me so I backed into a doorway.
As I watched him standing in front of those various objects I could hear him speaking to them:
“Good evening Mr. Chair, how are you today. I hope you are enjoying our hotel.”
“Miss Ashtray, I hope the front desk has seen to your accommodations and that everything is to your liking. If there is any problem please don’t hesitate to contact me.”
“Mr. and Mrs.Tables how nice to see you! Now don’t forget our showroom. I’m sure you’ll both enjoy the entertainment we have for you.”
“Hello there, Mr. Lamp. It’s so good to have you back visiting us. We’ve missed you.”
He went on like this for the next few minutes and I realized that he was practicing – rehearsing as it were -- his greetings to hotel guests!
The moment he turned down a different hallway I quickly left the area and got out of sight. I still didn’t want him to see me and was worried that he might come back at any moment to say goodbye to Miss Ashtray.