It’s no secret that Pearl loved to eat. It’s hard to achieve her girth if you don’t. She was a gourmand and yummy food was her pleasure. With Bastille Day around the corner, I’m thinking about what Pearl might have served if she were having a party. She never would have presented the menu that she and her good friend Mike were to have at the Frank Sinatra show one New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas.
The dinner they paid for was supposed to be upscale, but instead was akin to a turkey dinner at the Firemen’s Hall. Not that they ever saw one lick of it. As Mike tells it, it was banquet food. They were at a table with a bunch of couples, and there they were, so different from everyone else (earth mother and her gay best-friend). Okay? They brought them wine, but nothing else. They tried to get the attention of their waitress, but no one ever came. They never got their food.
Mike told me, “So we go by this private ballroom after the show was over [we saw the sign on an easel by the door announcing a birthday party] and it’s a private party and all these people are trying to get in and they couldn’t get in [because they didn’t have invitations]. We went upstairs to our room and we were [re-]reading the menu and [the descritptions of the fancy food we were supposed to have had] and we were laughing hysterically about the food because it was lousy banquet food. So I said to her, ‘You know what Pearl, let’s go back downstairs and crash that party and get our money’s worth.’ And she said, ‘Okay, good, but we’re not gonna get in, they’re not letting anybody in.’ We walked RIGHT! IN!! On the side tables was fine china, bottles of Cristal champagne, fancy food. Vic Damone was there with Diahann Carroll, he was married to her.”
By that time Pearl must have had a drink or two, for when she clapped eyes on a not-too-tall grey haired man with blue eyes, she fawned all over him. “Hi, Frank, ” she purred in her sexiest voice. “Frank” turned out to be Tommy Lasorda who’s from Norristown, outside Philadelphia.
Mike continued, “He…was talking to us [I can just hear Pearl and Mike giggling like schoolgirls] and we sat up there like we belonged and they sang happy birthday [to Kady Zadora, the daughter of Pia Zadora and Meshulam Riklis]. So we got all this great food and all this great champagne and we were at this great party. We actually had a fabulous time.
“We called the banquet office to complain to the manager, and he asked us to come down to the office. But we didn’t want to because we were at that party and we didn’t want him to know who we were. But they never comp you for anything like that.”
Pearl drafted a scathing ♦letter on orange construction paper, addressing her discontent:
Due to the horrendous conditions concerning New Year’s Eve with Sinatra and the fact that you did not honor the conditions under which the package was sold to me, I feel I am entitled to a refund of $500. I made the reservation expressly for the package as you presented it: the 5-day, 4-night package with $125 tickets to Sinatra New Year’s Eve was to include dinner, drinks, champagne and a gala evening.
I called to upgrade the New Year’s Eve tickets to $250 a ticket and was assured they would be center-front seating to the stage. The phrase the ticket agent used was “best seats.”
Two days before the show, I inquired at the convention center office about the seating and was informed there was no floor plan yet. The day of the show there was still no floor plan and I was told “they are in there working it out now.”
At 8 o’clock the crowd was let in. There was no one to wait on our table. We were never served dinner or drinks or champagne. My companion went up to another waiter with $10 to get a bottle of wine for us. There was no one on the floor overseeing service who we could complain to.
As far as the $250 seats, my table was next to the $125 seats (which by the way did get served) next to the wall on the far side of the room.
My visibility was limited to the t.v. screens, obstructed by balloons and waiters serving other tables during the performance. Even though there had been an announcement by the M.C. for all help to be off the floor, they continued to bustle around.
Now Sinatra was on stage and it’s 11:30. A waitress who had one dessert left over from another table tried to serve it to a person at my table. Naturally, a commotion ensued as the people at my table started explaining that we had never been served dinner – or drinks – or champagne – and how dare they at 11:30 during Sinatra’s performance bring one dessert to our table. There was such a disturbance that we were unable to enjoy Sinatra’s performance.
The following day I spoke to Mr. Jacobson and told him of the events of New Year’s Eve. He said Moe was in charge of the entertainment and he would discuss it with him. I was to call Moe the next day after he had been informed of the evening. That day I tried to speak to Moe, who was, of course, not available to speak to me. Twice an attempt was made on my part and finally I was asked for my phone number and address and told he would be in touch with me. He never was.
Understand, I specifically took the New Year’s Eve package based on your representation which you did not honor at $150 a night, 4-night minimum just to be able to see Sinatra, have dinner, drinks, champagne and a gala New Year’s Eve.
Frankly, the hotel, the entertainment committee and the ticket agent did not honor any of their commitments except a room to sleep and a casino to gamble.
It is not clear whether she ever sent this letter, because, as Mike continued, “When we got back to L.A. Pearl called the credit card company and told them what happened, that we never got our food. And the girl says to Pearl, ‘Well, ma’am, you know you did get to see the show. Well, what was the menu?’ And Pearl starts to read the menu, [making her case] ‘It was all banquet food but they used so many fancy adjectives to make it sound like it was this fabulous thing. [By the time Pearl got done with her, she was so razzle-dazzled] that they took the entire charge off. So we went for free. [$738 was refunded.]
I have to imagine that if Pearl were making a Bastille Day celebration today, she wouldn’t just let them eat cake. There’d be Oysters Rockefeller a la Antoine’s and lots of bubbly Champagne. Bon appétit!