Friday, June 4, 2021

Paradise Palms Celebrity Spotlight: Wayland Flowers

Puppeteer Wayland Flowers (11/26/1939-10/11/1988) made Paradise Palms his home base while performing in Las Vegas between 1982 and 1987, in a home on Ottawa Drive that was once owned by the Sahara Hotel to house it's top entertainers, including Buddy Hackett.

Wayland Flowers' Las Vegas home, a modified Palmer & Krisel Model 11a on Ottawa Drive

Flowers, most notably known for his creation of the Madame puppet, was born in Dawson, Georgia and began his career performing in gay bars and nightclubs after moving to New York City in 1963. Shortly after arriving to New York, Flowers found work as an assistant puppeteer on a children’s television show, where he began to hone his craft.   

In 1971, he created the off-Broadway show Kumquats, the world’s first erotic puppet show, which marked the first on-stage appearance of his most famous creation, Madame. Madame, who was rumored to be based on Washington, DC gay icon Margo MacGregor, was a bawdy, grande dame with a sharp wit and trademark cackling laugh, the alter ego of Flowers.

Flowers during his Provincetown performances

In 1972 Flowers debuted the cackling, crass, sharp-tounged Madame as a stand-alone lounge act in Provincetown, MA, and quickly began attracting enormous crowds. ″This was an underground act that took root and shot up out of nowhere,″ Flowers once said in an interview. Around Provincetown, he could be seen unexpectedly riding down Commercial St. in a convertible, Madame hanging out the side or jumping over the windshield, screaming obscenities at passersby. Other times, Flowers and Madame would hang their heads out of Provincetown balconies and carry on with whomever was fortunate enough to walk by. Flowers’ sudden popularity led to appearances in New York nightclubs. He was known as a comedian, illusionist and puppeteer, rather than a ventriloquist. Flowers would appear on stage with his puppets, “I’m right out there on stage beside Madame, but within two or three minutes it seems that I disappear,” he said in an interview.

Flowers (just above Redd Foxx) on the movie poster for Norman...Is that You?

Flowers’ act began to pick up steam throughout the 1970s, and by the mid 70s Flowers appeared on the variety show Keep on Truckin’, The Mike Williams Show and had numerous appearances on Andy, Andy William’s mid 70’s variety show. In 1976, he appeared in the Redd Foxx/Pearl Bailey film, Norman… Is That You?, a film about a Los Angeles couple coming to terms with their son’s sexuality.


Flowers was openly gay in a time when very few performers were out, paving the way for future generations. Flowers and Madame made their way onto Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts in 1977, along with becoming regular performers on the 1977-78 Laugh In revival. In 1976, Flowers replaced Paul Lynde as center square on Hollywood Squares, appearing with Madame, and on occasion his other puppet creations Smedley or Macklehoney. Flowers appeared on Hollywood Squares for the remaining four years the show ran on NBC, and delivered the final game question of the daytime (pre-syndication) series, which was "Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss lived in the same place. Where did they all live?" Madame's "comic" answer: "At the YMCA!" Then her "serious" answer: Germany. The answer correct answer was Austria.

By 1979 Flowers began appearing as a regular at the Casbar Theater at the Sahara. In 1981, he debuted Madame Goes to Harlem at the Sahara, which ran intermittently throughout the year. It was also in 1981 that Flowers and Madame were cast in Solid Gold, appearing through 1984. In 1982, Flowers and Madame acquired their own syndicated television show, Madame’s Place, which ran for 150 episodes. The show, which featured racy dialog, was often broadcast after 11:00 PM due to the content, and featured a slew of well-known entertainers, including Corey Feldman and guest appearances by fellow former Paradise Palms residents Phyliss Diller, Debbie Reynolds and Rip Taylor.


It was during this time that Flowers acquired his Paradise Palms home on Ottawa Drive from The Sahara Hotel, taking title (of course) as Madame, Inc. Flowers continued his Las Vegas engagements with shows at the Sands and Desert Inn throughout the early 1980s, and used Paradise Palms as him home base during that time. As the showrooms on the strip began to revamp their show lineups, Flowers’ act fell by the wayside, and in February 1987, he sold his home. 

Sometime during his appearances on Solid Gold, Flowers was diagnosed with HIV. By 1988, he was suffering from Kaposi's sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer. Despite his illness, Flowers continued to perform until his sudden collapse on stage at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. After a final trip back home to Dawson, Georgia, Flowers passed away in hospice care in Los Angeles on October 11, 1988. At the time of his death, his family refused to provide any details as to the cause, and Flowers bequeathed his estate to his manager. His beloved sidekick Madame was interred with him in Dawson, GA.

Flowers' work continues to live on posthumously, with Madame being revived by Rick Skye in 2009, and appearing on Family Guy Season 2. Flowers was also the namesake inspiration of beloved Simpsons character Waylon Smithers.



Madame's Place Theme Song Clip

Friday, May 28, 2021

Donna the Duck: 40th Anniversary


40 years ago in May of 1981, Paradise Palms and the Sahara Nevada Country Club (present day Las Vegas National) became the center of a national news media frenzy, when it was discovered that a mallard, affectionally named Donna, had been shot with a 3-foot target arrow through her chest. The timing of this incident happened to fall during a relatively slow news period, at a time when the country was still reeling from the attempted assassination of the President two months earlier. A feel good story was much needed, and Donna filled that role. 


Donna fell on the media's radar in May 1981, but neighborhood reports revealed that she had been living with an arrow lodged in her chest for almost a month. Volunteers with the Nevada Human Society began attempts to capture Donna, so that the arrow could safely be removed. While not causing her physical pain, the arrow had impacted her ability to dive down underwater for food, which began causing her to drop weight. Donna was also a mother, and along with her mate Dapper Dan, her ability to care for her ducklings was impacted. 

As rescue efforts ramped up, so did Donna's elusiveness. Initially, residents and volunteers attempted to capture Donna by hand. She had a knack for fleeing at the last second. A specialty net was made, one that was wide enough, and with a long pole, that would allow rescuers to capture her without getting too close. Each time an effort was made to approach her, Donna was take flight. Rescuers began to worry about the stress the rescue attempts were causing on her wound, and became fearful that the arrow would begin to cause damage if it tore her her wound.

As Donna began to capture media attention, daily updates flooded the press


As mounting media coverage swarmed Donna's home at the pond near the 13th hole, rescuers had an idea. Paradise Palmer Aline Hunter had volunteered to take a night swim in the pond, and at the right moment, the media would simultaneously turn on their lights, lighting up the night sky, distracting Donna and allowing her to be rescued. As Aline waded into the pond, the media waited for just the right moment to flash their lights. All was going according to plan, until it was Dapper Dan who alerted Donna to the impending capture. He quacked, and Donna took off in flight again.

Donna proves elusive to rescue attempts

Finally, Humane Society volunteers hatched one last, un-glamorous plan to capture Donna. She would be fed two pieces of bread laced with sodium amytol, which had been prescribed by the chief veterinarian of wild fowl at UC Davis. Even after consuming the roofied bread, Donna still remained alert, and took nearly 15 minutes to finally settle down. But once she started to drift off near the edge of the pond, she perked up for one final escape once she saw volunteers with her much-hated net. Donna waded into the water, then, broke free and flew to the adjacent lake. Human society volunteers followed the drugged-up Donna and finally netted her. 

She was still very much agitated, and rescuers quickly wrapped her in a towel and escorted her to her next journey. A helicopter was waiting on a nearby fairway, and Donna was air-evacuated to the Black Mountain Animal Hospital, where under the care of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weddle, surgery was performed and the arrow removed. Donna spent five days recovering, before she was brought back home to Paradise Palms to be reunited with her mate and ducklings. Neighbors kept a close eye on her, and were happy to report a happy ending for Donna. 

Donna's capture was front page news

Donna's story inspired a children's book, T-shirts, a Donna the Duck Party thrown by Bob Stupak at Vegas World, and even North Las Vegas ceremoniously 'adopted' her. She brought a feel-good story  to Las Vegas and the nation, and became one of the most memorable wildlife residents of Paradise Palms. Donna continued to live in Paradise Palms after her return, settling down in the pond adjacent to the 18th hole.  

Donna inspired parties, T-shirts and real estate advertisements

Homecoming for Donna



Friday, May 21, 2021

Original Paradise Palms 1960 Year One Ads

 As Paradise Palms approaches the end of our 60th anniversary year, we thought it'd be fun to share with you all of the original newspaper print advertisements which kicked off our community in it's first year. Groundbreaking for Paradise Palms was held in the spring of 1960, while the much-anticipated Grand Opening was held July 3, 1960. Attendance at that Ground Opening was expected to reach 1,000 in number, but the demand for new contemporary housing alongside general interest in Las Vegas' first master planned community brought out 8,000 visitors opening weekend. Pre-sales for the community were held at Ashcroft Realty, 31 E. Oakey Boulevard. Sales were robust, with 58 homes sold after opening weekend. Demand was so strong, with buyers competing for 77 available homes, that only seven unique advertisements were created. Here they are, in order of appearance in the Las Vegas Review Journal. 


First advertisement for Paradise Palms appearing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, 05/15/1960 


Second Paradise Palms Advertisement appearing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, 05/22/1960. Over 20 homes had already been sold a month and half before the Grand Opening.


Grand Opening, Las Vegas Review Journal, 07/03/1960.

Third Advertisement for Paradise Palms, Las Vegas Review Journal, 07/07/1960. Less than a week after grand opening, 58 homes were sold.

Fourth Advertisement for Paradise Palms, Las Vegas Review Journal, 07/17/1960 

Robust sales left little housing availability, touted in the fifth advertisement for Paradise Palms, Las Vegas Review Journal, 08/28/1960.

By October 1960, another 20 homes were released for sales, as noted in the sixth advertisement for Paradise Palms appearing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/20/1960

1960's seventh and final advertisement for Paradise Palms, 12/30/1960. The original Hugh Taylor homes had sold out, and this was the first appearance of a Palmer & Krisel home in Paradise Palms Advertisements. It would be another 11 months before the Palmer & Krisel homes would be available for sale in November 1961. 


Friday, December 18, 2020

Paradise Palms - 2020 Holiday Decoration Contest Winners

 


To spread a little cheer in 2020, our neighbor Tami had a great idea - organize a community-wide holiday decorating contest. All the neighbors had to do was decorate their home in their own creative style, and the judges would hit all 12 miles of the streets that intertwine Paradise Palms after dark looking for homes that best fit one of five categories: Most Mid Century Modern, Most Mid Century, Most Amusing, Most Over the Top and Most Peaceful. Congrats to all the winners, honorable mentions, and special thanks to Tami for organizing this fun contest. Here are the winners as chosen by our esteemed panel of volunteer community judges:

Most Mid Century Modern



Most Mid Century




Most Amusing



Most Over The Top




Most Peaceful




Thursday, October 8, 2020

Paradise Palms Celebrity Spotlight: Buddy Rich

Paradise Palmer Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich (09/30/1917-04/02/1987), billed as the World’s Greatest Drummer, made his move into Paradise Palms Las Vegas when he and his wife Marie purchased the original Marquis model home in Fountainbleau Estates at 1734 Sombrero Drive in September 1964. The three bedroom, two bathroom home was handed over "lock, stock and barrel, fully furnished," complete with the original sales office with sliding glass doors still intact where the carport was intended to be completed.

Buddy Rich's Paradise Palms Las Vegas home, 1734 Sombrero Drive

Rich was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of vaudeville parents who brought him into showbiz at just 18 months of age. Rich possessed the impressive gift of natural rhythm, so much so that he began performing solo on Broadway at age 4, earning the nickname Baby Traps the Drum Wonder performing Phillip Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” as his signature hit song. After just over a decade, Rich made history becoming the second highest-paid child entertainer in the world earning $1,000 per week by the time he reached 15.

Buddy Rich as Traps The Drum Wonder

In 1937 Rich began a jazz career playing with clarinetist Joe Marsela, and two years later joined Tommy Dorsey’s band while plating with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Ventura, Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa. Rich also began a film career, making appearances in Symphony of Swing, Ship Ahoy and How's About It before joining the Marines to fight in World War II. After returning from the War, Rich formed his own band with the help of Frank Sinatra, and went on to form numerous other bands over the following years before marrying his wife, Marie, in 1953.

In 1955, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich recorded the collaboration album titled, "Krupa and Rich," which featured the song "Bernie's Tune," where they traded drum solos for a total of six minutes. Rich would join Harry James’ band, and began his Las Vegas ties in 1956 playing with James at the El Rancho.  Rich would go on to play in Jazz at the Philharmonic, the 2:30 am nightly show at the Dunes sharing the stage with Roy Eldridge, Herb Ellis and Ray Brown.

In January 1962 Buddy Rich had signed with the Harry James Band for a record $1,500 per week salary ($12,800 in 2020 dollars). James and Rich had also previously played together during a European tour in 1957 and James had been working to get Rich back into the group ever since. Following a worldwide tour as a musical emissary with the State Department, Rich was finally lured to Las Vegas on a more permanent basis.


In November 1963 fellow Paradise Palmer Dave Victorson lured Rich to perform at the Thunderbird, where he shared the stage with Belle Barth and Billy Daniels, before being reunited again with Harry James in 1964 for an engagement at the Flamingo where he performed until the Aladdin opening on April 1, 1966. It was during this time that Buddy and Marie decided to become full-time residents of Paradise Palms, purchasing their Fontainebleau Estates home on Sombrero Drive joining the already long-list of celebrity residents. 

Buddy and Marie Rich arrive in Paradise Palms, Las Vegas

Columnist and fellow Paradise Palmer Forrest Duke covered Rich's move to Paradise Palms, Las Vegas


Headlining in the Bagdad Theater, Rich entertained crowds with two shows nightly, at 11:30 pm and 3:15 am, alongside songstress Susan Maro. From there, Rich recorded the Sounds of 66 album with Sammy Davis Jr, who proclaimed to be Rich’s biggest fan, before moving on to an eight-week stint at the Sands Celebrity Theater. It was in 1965 that Rich was crowned the World’s Greatest Drummer in an international jazz poll.

In July 1967 Rich went on a two-week concert tour with Frank Sinatra and fellow Paradise Palmer Shecky Greene following the filming of the Sinatra-Green film Tony Rome. Upon their return, Rich and Sinatra settled in the Copa Room at the Sands along with comedian opener Pat Henry. Rich ran into some legal trouble in 1968, when he arrested in January for defrauding an inn-keeper in Reno, and then in March when he was convicted on one count of Federal tax evasion for failing to report $50,000 in income in 1961. Rich was placed on probation, and ordered to pay $40,000, covering tax liabilities plus six percent interest over a five-year period, along with an additional $2,500 fine.

That summer Rich began a stint with Tony Bennet at the Caesar’s Palace Circus Maximus theater during which he was hit with a lawsuit for failing to make payments on his convertible Jaguar, owing $881.39, which was followed a week later by another lawsuit from locally-owed Casual-Aire Men’s Shop stating Rich owned them $1,857.55 for goods procured between 1963 and 66. The following week, Rich’s wife Marie, sued for divorce citing extreme mental cruelty and asking for $2,250/month in alimony and child support, along with their Paradise Palms home, a furniture store in Miami, and a 1965 Lincoln Continental. Rich continued his show at Caesar’s, later moving to Nero’s Nook. It was at Caesar’s where he famously recorded the album Mercy, Mercy before a live audience.

Marie Rich eventually dismissed the divorce later on in 1968, but the hard times ensued for Buddy. In July, Rich was hit with a tax lien filed by the IRS for $141,606.27 (just over $1M in 2020 dollars), then a few months later Rich’s wife filed for divorce again, upping the monthly alimony ask to $2,750. Again, Buddy and Marie reconciled, but Rich filed for bankruptcy in August. The following year, Rich’s home at 1734 Sombrero along with all of it’s furnishings was seized and auctioned by the IRS on June 12, 1970, ending Rich's residency in Paradise Palms. Sam Mintz, owner of the Blue Angel Motel, purchased the home for $1,900 plus assumption of a first and second mortgage totaling approximately $30,000.

The end of Rich's Paradise Palms residency

Rich was close friends with fellow Paradise Palmer Johnny Carson, and was a frequent guest on his show. Carson would often play off of Rich’s caustic personality, and it was these appearances that helped Rich become a celebrity personality. Carson was often spotted around town attending Rich's performances, and Rich was often enlisted to play for Carson's private events. He would later open a club in New York City called Buddy’s Place, along with a second club simply titled Buddy’s Place II. Rich would continue to make numerous TV appearances throughout his career, including a notable drum battle with Animal on The Muppet Show in 1981. Rich passed away at the age of 69 in 1987, a few short weeks following the removal of a brain tumor at UCLA Medical Center.

Rich and Animal, 1981

Lifelong friends: Rich and fellow Paradise Palmer Johnny Carson










Thursday, September 3, 2020

Paradise Palms Las Vegas – Best of Las Vegas 2020 Nominee!

 

For the first time in our 60-year history, Paradise Palms Las Vegas has been nominated to the Review Journal’s 2020 Best Of list for “Best Master Planned Community” in Las Vegas. This is a big feat for our neighborhood, and culturally important as we work to attract new neighbors, new businesses and strive to change the perception of what it’s like to live in midtown. We all know about that our slice of paradise is one of Las Vegas’ best-kept secrets, with huge yards, mature trees, amazing architecture and a central location minutes from downtown, McCarran, the Strip, UNLV, amazing dining and shopping, and now’s our chance to share it with the rest of the valley.

Paradise Palms is regarded as the first master planned community in Las Vegas, opening on July 3rd, 1960. A master-planned community is generally defined as a large-scale residential neighborhood with a large number of recreational and commercial amenities, such as golf courses, tennis courts, lakes, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, and even stores and restaurants. Paradise Palms included all of that, with 1,000 single-family homes, the Stardust (now Las Vegas National) Championship Golf Course at the heart of the community, a community park, schools, shopping, retail and apartments.

Over the years we have been home to a venerable who’s who list of notable Las Vegas residents (visit our Influential Residents list), with world class architecture by notable architects William Krisel and Dan Palmer, Hugh Taylor and William M. Bray. In February 2017, the original 200 homes of Paradise Palms obtained the distinct honor of becoming the first Historic Neighborhood in unincorporated Clark County. Today we have a strong sense of community, with our monthly roving cocktail parties, annual sell-out Docomomo Tour Day, annual garage sale, history celebrations and huge tourism draw. Now in honor of our 60th anniversary we’re ready to take home the Gold as the Best Master Planned Community in Las Vegas. Here’s how you vote:

1. Go to https://www.votebolv.com/

2. Scroll down to REAL ESTATE



3. Scroll down to MASTER PLANNED COMMUNITY


4. Vote Paradise Palms!


5. Review selections.




6. Confirm vote, share on Facebook, Linked In or Twitter.






Remember to support your favorite Las Vegas neighborhood & vote Paradise Palms once a day, per device, now through September 25th, 2020.