When Jack Entratter sold out to Hughes, I figured my obligation to the Sands was over. Everybody had worked for Jack for less money than they could have got elsewhere because we were a family. I’m not complaining – I was getting $25,000 a week – but I’d been turning down offers of a lot more from other places.
The family was disintegrating anyway. Sinatra had a big fight with one of the Sands’ bosses, a guy by the name of Carl Cohen, and Frank just picked up and moved over to Caesar’s Palace. I got a call in New York in the Middle of the night. “Sinatra walked,” Carl Cohen said. “You gotta get out here and replace him right away.
When I arrived, the Sands was like a war zone, and Howard Hughes had become the invisible man. Still, he knew everything that was going on. Everyone believed all the important rooms in the Sands were bugged, and that Hughes was listening in on everybody.
I’d walk into an empty dressing room and shout, “How are ya, Howard? Alan here.” Wherever I went, I’d talk to Howard. I’d go up to a lamp: “Howard, how you feeling?”
It was a joke that paid off. One night Charlie Turner—a holdover from the Entratter regime who had stayed on at the Sands—came backstage to talk to me. “Alan, I hear you’re not happy here.”
“Charlie,” I said, “I’m not.”
“Okay,” he said, “what will make you happy?
“Money,” I said. And I started screaming at the ceiling. “You hear me, Howard? Money!”
Next day, a couple of Howard’s representatives showed up with a new offer. “We’ll double your salary, we’ll give you fifty thousand a week, nine weeks a year, three three-week engagements.”
The Sands still felt like home, so I said okay. Next day, a well-dressed man – everybody who worked for Hughes looked like an FBI agent – came and handed me a little box. Inside was a pair of cufflinks, exact duplicates of the drill bit Howard’s father had invented, the bit on which the Hughes fortune was built.
It was a badge of honor. After the man left, I sat down at my dressing table, looked into the mirror, and said, “Thank you, Howard!”
I finished out the year.
NAME – DROPPING: The Life and Lies of Alan King
Excellent book. King is a world-class raconteur.
Good rememberence of King here:
Kenneth Tynan once wrote, “If a sawn-off shotgun could talk, it would sound like Alan King.” Cigar-wielding master of the angry monologue, and star of over 30 television specials and 16 films, the durable King was revered by his fellow funny men. “Alan King took aggravation to new heights of hilarity,” wrote Bob Monkhouse. “He’s irritated but he doesn’t irritate.” Billy Crystal, who played King’s son in the film Memories of Me (1988), called him “a museum of comedy”.