Debbie Reynolds: Making Them Laugh in Laughlin
The legendary Debbie Reynolds played Laughlin’s Riverside Resort and Casino from December 30 – January 1, wearing enough bling to rival the festivities. She’s been playing Laughlin for 40 years. At a remarkably vibrant 78, the iconic triple threat - singer, actress, and dancer - interacted with the crowd with an opening line started off the evening with a laugh.
“There are so many cameras here I think I’m in Korea.”
In a sparkly gold lame’ gown, slit to show off a fabulous leg (to the thigh) the El Paso native quipped, sang, changed outfits (to a sparkly red pantsuit) and introduced a screened retrospective of her six-decade career, including clips from The Tender Trap, Singin’ in the Rain, The Singing Nun, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Oscar nomination, Best Actress). Several video screens reminded (or acquainted) audience members with Reynolds’ formidable aplomb as an entertainer.
She’s also at ease with ad-libbing to the audience when she’s not making wisecracks about her three ill-fated marriages, the most famous of which was to Eddie Fisher until he ran off with some brunette (wink, wink).
“Maybe I should have married Burt Reynolds,” she remarks casually, “I wouldn’t have to change my name and we could both share wigs.”
A group of twenty-something latecomers were addressed by Reynolds as they took their seats in the crowded showroom. Attempting to access a reference they could understand (rather than her MGM-Gene Kelly-Frank Sinatra days) Reynolds exclaimed, “I’m Princess Leia’s mother!” referring to actress/author daughter Carrie Fisher. She also pulled off a recognizable impression of screen great Katharine Hepburn.
Reynolds took a short break while celebrity impersonator Shari Wilson swooped upon the stage, morphing into Cher, Liza Minelli, and Tina Turner whether by voice, mannerism or dance step. Wilson does not hold back, and generates an instant rapport and an energetic interaction with the crowd.
Returning to the stage, Reynolds continued to talk to members of the audience in a breathy, fast-paced rhythm, even buying one woman a beer during the friendly exchange. She relates to her fans well and wondered aloud if there was anyone under fifty in the room. When several people raised their hands, she asked, “Who brought you?” Aging is one of the entertainer’s favorite comedic topics; that, and men.
She closed the show by singing her 1957 gold record hit, “Tammy” sounding remarkably like the recording, accompanied by Joey Singer on piano and Gerry Genuario on drums.
The resulting applause was proof that whether in the rain, by a nun, or weaving magic in a barn as an animated spider (Charlotte’s Web, 1973) Debbie Reynolds can still charm, schmooze, make ‘em laugh, and by all means, sing.
A Bridge For All Seasons
If you merely drive across Nevada’s brand new Hoover bypass bridge (full name: Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) you’ll find that it does the job just fine; it will get you across the Colorado River, but you won’t see a thing from your car. Walls on either side of the road obscure the view except for the occasional bobbing head from the walkway. THOSE are the ones with a view that reaches all the way down (roughly 900 ft.) and across to the Hoover dam.
If you want to join them keep crossing over (there’s absolutely no stopping on the bridge) until you get to the exit that leads to the parking lot and be prepared to take steps or walk along a zigzagging ramp to get to the bridge’s walkway entrance. It’s like mini-mountain climbing but the view will be worth it. From the ground, bridge foot traffic looks like a series of dots bouncing along the uppermost rim.
From the top of the bypass, Hoover dam looks like a beige shovel, stuck in the earth with the handle removed, holding a large body of water at bay on one side, and a placid, smaller body on the other. Wherever you stand something looks tiny and something looks huge. There are multiple variations as well.
With the opening of the bridge you may still drive across the top of the dam but only from the Nevada side.
The memorial bridge is named for Mike O’Callaghan, 23rd governor of Nevada and former NFL player/Army veteran Pat Tillman. Both men’s biographies are on metal signs for the public to peruse. A sign warns that there are no public amenities, although four porta-potties sit at one end of the parking lot for those who want to bypass a little water themselves.
Some bridge facts:
• Construction took five years, beginning in 2005 and ending in late 2010
• The bridge has a length of 1905 feet and a width of 88 feet.
• Height above the river is 880 feet; height above the Hoover Dam is 280 feet.
• 30,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction of the bridge, along with 16,000,000 pounds of steel.
Helpful signs along the path to the bridge offer educational facts about its construction. Two of them highlight the lives of O’Callaghan and Tillman. There are also several resting places with benches. The grounds are immaculately clean, almost sterile, and there is a sense of awe that’s apparent in the traveler’s that gaze out over the Hoover Dam, usually majestic, but here dwarfed by its newly constructed companion, an “arch” rival of sorts.
Situated right on the Arizona/Nevada border, a bridge-side sign reminds you that Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, but with scenery this mesmerizing, time will seem irrelevant, unable to compete with the mountains, the river, and the man-made creations that put human beings in places usually reserved for eagles.
Now that’s a natural high.