Saturday, October 9, 2010

OK Crackerby with special guest star Mel Ruick (1965)

Password with celebrity contestants Carol Burnett and Alan King (1964)

There is something irresistible about the first incarnation of the word association game Password. The ingratiating squareness of Allen Ludden and the sounds of a narrator saying "The Password is nasty." The soothing audio of that beeping score count and, in this episode, two charming comedic guests. This episode of Password is one of the most fun I have ever viewed. The inexplicably endearing program is one of the few game shows I can watch without feeling like I am wasting my life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Flip Wilson Show with guest George Carlin (1972)

An Interview with Norm Crosby


Kliph Nesteroff: I wanted to talk to you primarily about your nightclub career. I have read a few different things. One - that you used to be a shoe salesman. Two - you used to be in advertising. Three - you used to do advertising for shoes. Which is it?

Norm Crosby: I was the advertising manager for a retail ladies' shoe company that had about forty stores. My father was a salesman at the big store in Boston where the company was based. I used to work in the store on the weekends as a helper. I went to Massachusetts School of Art and took a couple of extension courses - Harvard night courses on advertising and promotion. I drew. I'm an artist. Strictly illustration, nothing fancy, no painting, no oils. Just advertising art. I went to work for the company in the advertising department. I worked as assistant to the advertising manager. 


He went and took a job with some big mattress company. They just bumped me up and I became the advertising manager. I had an office and I did all the advertising for a forty store chain. I did the newspapers, magazines, I wrote copy, did the illustrations myself. You know, it was really good and I enjoyed it. I was working and I had a career [but] I liked comedy. I was fooling around with comedy. I got to meet all the local comics in the Boston area. They took me up to their agents, in fact, who were all in downtown Boston. I finally started to go to work on the weekends in these little crummy clubs, the weekend places. We had no such thing as comedy clubs in those days. 


They were just little restaurants, little bars, where the mother was the cook and the son was the maitre'd, that kind of thing. I started working at those. I was having a ball. It was just an avocation. I was having fun with it.

Kliph Nesteroff: Who was Ethan Eichrodt? I read that you were in a comedy team with Ethan Eichrodt.

Norm Crosby: I have no idea where that came from! I can not imagine where that came from. Several people have mentioned that to me. It's been on somebody's computer or somebody's page, but that's not true. I never had a partner.  [Ed. Note: The name Ethan Eichrodt was erroneously inserted into Norm Crosby's Wikipedia entry. It was someone's idea as a joke as the real-life Ethan Eichrodt is a Boston psychologist that graduated from Boston University in 1981. However, the Wikipedia entry has become the basis for the promotional material for Norm's appearances in Atlantic City and Las Vegas and at the Boston Comedy Festival!]

Kliph Nesteroff: I read that when you started you were doing Alan King's material.

Norm Crosby: No, no. I was doing everybody's material. It wasn't Alan King's. I would watch Ed Sullivan on a Sunday and I would take a joke or a gag or a line from all the comics. I took from Buddy Hackett, Jan Murray and Red Buttons. Everybody! Not just Alan King. I never took anybody's material. I took just a thought, an idea, a gag, a line. Just something - not stealing really. Because when you have no writers, no knowledge of writers, and no material of your own, you know, it was okay to do that. The industry allows that in the beginning. You're really not in competition with these people. They were working the big nightclubs and I was working in Woodsocket, Rhode Island. 


Anyway, I did that and then I started to do the local civic things. I would do the governor's birthday ball or the mayor's charity dinner or the police chief's banquet. I got to be known around the area as a local hero in Boston. The man who owned the Latin Quarter in New York was a man named E.M. Loewe. He used to see me at all these things because he was a philanthropist and a local bigshot and he would go to those functions. 


One day we were walking out of an affair close together and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, "You know, you always make me laugh. I own the Latin Quarter. I'm going to give you a week at my Latin Quarter." His lawyer was with him. He took out his card and he gave it to me. He said, "Norm, when you're ready to do it, you let me know and I'll arrange it for you." I said, "Thank you! Great!" Then I realized, "How can I possibly go into New York and do a montage of every New York comic?" I can't make up any new premises. I can't come up with any new subject matter because everything had been done; my house, my wife, my car, my kid, the president, the country. It hit me, maybe to present the material differently would be the way to go. I worked in a club in Springfield, Massachusetts. I became very friendly with the owners. They were young guys, single, and we became pals. I used to go up there all the time. Springfield is like ninety miles outside of Boston. 


Some of the acts would stay over and some of the acts would actually commute back and forth every night. Spend the whole day back in Boston and then go back up there for the show. So, one of the owners used to hit on the girl singers, the girl dancers. One girl dancer was a cute little girl and he drove her up. He came into my dressing room and he said to me, "Find out if the girl is staying over or if she communicates." I knew he didn't mean that word, but this was for real. I said, "My God, a lot of people talk like that. Maybe that would be fun." So I started the play on words and that's where it came from. I started [mixing-up words] deliberately."President Johnson declared war on puberty" and "singers sing from their diagrams" and "women need tenderness and affliction." 

 
I started to do it and unfortunately, the places I was working at, at the time, didn't even know the difference. It wasn't funny to them ... rumbling on and the people would look at me. Finally when I graduated to better places [with] more intelligent audiences they recognized the satire and it was very funny. That's where the malaprop thing came from. Finally when I was ready I called the lawyer and sure enough, I went into the Latin Quarter for one week. That itself is a great story. The man called me into his office, the manager. He said to me, "Mr. Crosby, I don't know you. I don't know your work. But Mr. Loewe asked me to book you here for a week, so I'm giving you a week." He said, "I'll tell you exactly what I need you to do." 

 
Are you familiar with the old Latin Quarter in New York at all? It was a big, big nightclub and it was strictly production shows like Follies Brasserie with a lot of showgirls and a lot of dancers would go on. The main attraction was the big, big show; like a follies. He said to me, "I have a tumbling act. They're going to go on in front of the curtain. A family act and they climb on each other. The finale, the little boy climbs on his father, way up, and he jumps way down, and the band plays TAH-DAH and they run off." He says, "And then the curtain will close. Then you will come out from behind that curtain. You will have no introduction. There will be no music to play you on." 


Because everyone at that point would be moving. The band, the girls, the everything, getting ready for another big production number. "What I need you to do is stay out there for twelve minutes. Not eleven and not thirteen. Twelve minutes. I don't care if you get a million laughs or if you get no laughs. I need you out there for twelve minutes because that's how long it takes to change the set." And that's exactly what I did. I went out there for twelve minutes. I tell you, I was out there for five or six minutes before anybody even knew I was on. No introduction, no band, it was just, "Hi! Hello? Hello? I'm here!" I did the twelve minutes every night for a week. When I finished I packed as quickly as I could. I couldn't wait to get out of there. 


It was horrible. I went into the office to get my cheque... I get choked up when I think about it... My God. I'm sorry. I went in to get my cheque, I was packed, ready to run. And the manager said, "Mr. Crosby, I realize I gave you a very tough assignment and you did it extremely well. You finally got through to the people and they enjoyed you. I'm going to hold you over and we're going to give you a better spot in the show. We're going to move you down. You will be introduced and there will be music to play you on and I will keep you another week." So, I ran back to the dressing room and unpacked. To make a long story short, I stayed there eighteen weeksI stayed there for the full run of the big production show. They changed it up every three months. He kept me there for the rest of the run and I ended up closing the show. 


Walter Winchell came in one night with a party of people. Not to see me, of course, but he just came in. He gave me a glowing review the next day. The William Morris Agency came in the day after that and they signed me.

Kliph Nesteroff: Wow.


Norm Crosby: I also got a manager. One guy came up and approached me and told me who he was. He handled Dick Shawn and some other people I was familiar with. He asked me if I had representation and I said no. So, at the end of the Latin Quarter engagement I had a manager and I had an an agency. I took a little one-room studio apartment on the West Side of New York and I had a career. 


The first job that William Morris gave me was at The Concord Hotel up in the Catskills. I was on the bill with a young man who had just finished Camelot. He was just starting his career: Robert Goulet. I worked with Bob and his manager came backstage after the show and he said, "You know, Bob is just beginning a great tour all around the country in nightclubs and theaters. I've got a TV show for him, movie prospects, we're really going to build him. I was thinking of getting a girl to tour with him. But the chemistry with you two guys is just awesome. Who handles you? Oh! I know him very well. I'll talk to him." The result of that one night at The Concord, I stayed with Goulet for three years. 


Kliph Nesteroff: Wow. Who was your manager? 

Norm Crosby: My manager was Bobby Bernard at that time. Goulet's manager was Norman Rosemont, who was also, I think, the stage manager for Camelot. When Camelot closed he just took Bob and became his manager. Anyway, we did this incredibe tour; three years of super places. He took me to Las Vegas, he took me to Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco - everywhere. Everywhere he went, I went with him. They were very, very nice with me. There is an occupational hazard of working with a headliner, as I'm sure you know. 


The billing is minimal, the attention they pay to you is minimal, you just go onstage do your twenty minutes and get off. That's all you're there for. But they didn't do that with me. It was always Robert Goulet featuring Norm Crosby or Robert Goulet's special guest star Norm Crosby. [Later,] every place we went to, I could go back [and play] by myself. That was a tremendous plus. At the end of the three years, my manager by then was Bernie Brillstein. Bernie took over from Bobby Bernard early in his career. He saw me somewhere and he was very impressed. Bernie became a power and then he took Brad Grey in as his partner. Bernie had all these people. It was a big plus and we became the closest of friends. I was with him for forty-five years. We were family. That was it. The whole career came from those three years with Bob. I had a long-term Vegas contract and was part of the Vegas family. I was doing television night after night, day after day. Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, a million TV shows. At night it was Dean Martin, Glen Campbell, Fantasy Island.


Kliph Nesteroff: When you did your eighteen weeks at the Latin Quarter - were there other celebrities on the bill with you?

Norm Crosby: No, they mostly used dumb acts. Sight acts. The girls were the main feature. The showgirls and the dancers, and jugglers and acrobats. They didn't use a lot of talking acts at the Latin Quarter. I was one of the few comics that worked there. Generally, they used people that were sight acts.

Kliph Nesteroff: You had mentioned Walter Winchell. I had read a review about your first eighteen weeks at the Latin Quarter written by columnist Hy Gardner. Remember him?

Norm Crosby: Oh, sure.

Kliph Nesteroff: This was around the time of Lenny Bruce and people talking about the so-called "sick comedians" and the "sick comedy." 

Norm Crosby: Right.


Kliph Nesteroff: In Hy Gardner's review, he doesn't go into detail, but he refers to "Norm Crosby, a semi-sick comedian." 

Norm Crosby: (laughs)

Kliph Nesteroff: Do you have any idea why he would ever feel that way?

Norm Crosby: I guess that was a reference to the words. I never did sick stuff or anything dirty. I never ever did that. Never. I guess it was just a reference to the misuse of words and geographical or historical stuff... I was never obscene or off-color.

Kliph Nesteroff: Yes, it seemed strange that he would write that. I can't imagine what it would be that he would find objectionable in any way. What was The Concord Hotel like back in those days? What were the owners like and what was the atmosphere like?



Norm Crosby: The Concord was huge. The stage was enormous and the people that came up there were mostly New Yorkers that just came up for the weekend. They were a great audience once they got to know you. You'd walk out to an ovation. The same clientele summer after summer, year after year. I did The Concord, I did Grossingers, I did all those big Catskill places - as a headliner. There are some comics that'd go up there, they were what you'd call "Mountain Comics." These are the guys that would work Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I worked Saturday night. There was a difference. 

 
But it was a great place to learn - you became a pro up there. You learned how to overcome the noise or the hostility and the mumbling and grumbling. Once you established that rapport with them it was a snap. I had the same thing in Las Vegas.  I was a Vegas regular. The gamblers that go there all the time, they adopted you. They'd know you, they'd yell out, "Tell us about the fish!" They knew the things that you did and they'd want to hear them. That made it so easy. It made it wonderful.

Kliph Nesteroff: Do you remember your first time appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show?


Norm Crosby: I think so. I was in such awe of him. When I finished my spot, I walked off and he put his arm around me. He said, "You're a funny man." We became the closest friends. My wife was a Rockette. She was a dancer and when she left Radio City Music Hall she went to work at a big nightclub in Boston called Blinstrub's. That's where I met her. 


We started to go out. We've been married 44 years. We came up together. Sullivan became a friend. Every time we went to New York to do the show Joanie and I would go out to dinner with Ed and his wife Sylvia. We became close. He was the sweetest, nicest man and he had absolutely no idea what he was doing on that show. His son-in-law, Bob Precht, he was the director and the producer. He would tell him, "Ed, stand right here and introduce so-and-so." And that's what he would do (laughs). But he was a lovely guy.


Kliph Nesteroff: Did you ever encounter what other comedians had to - having to shave minutes off of your act right before going on?

Norm Crosby: No, I was very fortunate. They'd cut you in the afternoon. The format for the Sullivan show was - at twelve o'clock noon, you did a full dress rehearsal in front of a live audience in the Sullivan theater. The show would go on and he would do it exactly as he wanted to do it that night. They would go upstairs, everyone who was on the show, from Sinatra on down, would have to stay in the theater once the audience left and have to wait to be dismissed. 

 
Ed would go up to Bob Precht's office and they would watch the tape and cut down the show. Because it was live it would have to be timed exactly to perfection. They would come down with the word and you would be dismissed. They would come down and say, "Okay, Norm Crosby, take out the joke about the barber shop, and everything else is fine. So-and-so, you're off the show. You take a minute off. Take thirty seconds off." That's what they would tell you.  I never had it happen just before I was going on


I think sometimes things would happen backstage where someone would run over time and something would have to be cut. That's what happened to Jackie Mason. Remember when he held up the one finger? He got in trouble. But it never happened with me.



Kliph Nesteroff: How did that experience compare with doing something like The Garry Moore Show?

Norm Crosby: That was great. That was my first show. Bob Banner who was the producer came in to the Latin Quarter one night and saw me there and booked me for the show. Garry Moore was also a very sweet guy. I got to the studio and I was scared to death. It was my first TV show and I was in awe of everything. He just welcomed me and made me feel so comfortable. You did sketches with other people on the show. We did a scene where I had to be looking out of a window and Carol Burnett was on the other side. I loved that. It was more than just standing up and doing five minutes. 

 
I was also doing things in an ensemble, which was exciting to me. It was later beneficial for when I had to do that with Glen Campbell or whatever comedies. The Garry Moore Show was a great experience.

Kliph Nesteroff: How about The Jimmy Dean Show?

Norm Crosby: Yeah, Jimmy and I got to be good pals. A lot of people don't remember Rowlf, Jim Henson's dog. That was the first Muppet and Bernie Brillstein, my manager, handled Jim Henson. So we were very comfortable and we were friends. That one dog evolved into a whole dynasty that they created and Jim was a real sweet guy. Jimmy Dean was great, did a lot of his shows and, of course, that was also Bob Banner. We went down to Florida once, down to Cypress Gardens and did a Jimmy Dean Show. I was out in a rowboat with Eddy Arnold. That was fun.



Kliph Nesteroff: And did you have an association with Charlie Rapp?

Norm Crosby: Oh, sure. Charlie Rapp was the office that booked the Catskills. He was the boss. He was the king of the mountains. Again, we became good friends. Charlie would take my wife and  ... I was living in New York and she was working at the Latin Quarter. He was a nice, nice man. A sweetheart. He was single and his wife had died years before. He loved to go out. He took me to the Friar's for the first time. He took Joanie and I out to dinner. He took us to the places we'd only heard of; Toots Shore's and places like that. The Jockey Club in New York.


Kliph Nesteroff: Eventually you started working at the Copacabana...

Norm Crosby: I worked the Copa several times. I got along great with [Jules] Podell. He was supposed to be a very tough guy with a tough reputation and people always had stories about him, but he was always very nice to me. As a matter of fact, after I worked the Copa a couple of times, whenever I opened in Las Vegas or Florida or Chicago - no matter where - I always got a telegram on opening night from Mr. Podell. I appreciated that so much.



Kliph Nesteroff: Now how did playing a place like the Copa compare to the Latin Quarter? Was there a stark difference?

Norm Crosby: Big, big difference. Big difference. The Latin Quarter was a big stage like show business. The Copa was right down on the floor. You could reach out and touch the audience. They were all sitting right up close. It was a cabaret. The Latin Quarter was like a theater. The Copa was intimate - and the people - it was a totally different audience. 


The Latin Quarter attracted tourists. I don't know if too many New York people went to the Latin Quarter. Maybe just for fun once in a while. The Copa was strictly New York. All the heavyweights. Ed Sullivan would be in the audience and people from Broadway, a totally different type of an audience and type of environment. 


Kliph Nesteroff: I wanted to ask you about some of the other nightclub comedians of that era that you might have known. Do you remember Gene Baylos?

Norm Crosby: Oh, sure. Very well. He was the comic's comic. He was more interested in making his fellow comics laugh than he was with the audience. Gene was funny. Very, very funny man. He'd come over to his table and make you laugh. He did things like put some Chiclets in his mouth and he'd come over and he'd say, "I just came from the dentist *cough*" and he'd spit Chiclets all over your table. Just the things that he did were hysterical.


Kliph Nesteroff: Did he not care about fame? The fact that he didn't become a bigger star - do you think that mattered to him?

Norm Crosby: No. He was more concerned with making his peers laugh. He liked it, I guess it was in his nature. He never did become a big success. He was never known by the public. But everyone in the business knew him and liked him.

Kliph Nesteroff: How about Jack E. Leonard?



Norm Crosby: Ah, he was hysterical. He was a funny, funny man. We also became great friends. Fat Jack, we called him. He was also a comic's comic. He made the people in the business laugh. But he did work a lot and he was known to the public because of television. He had much more notoriety than Gene Baylos. Jack was very, very quick, very witty. I first met him in Boston when he came in to work and we hung out in the same place where all the acts went to have breakfast. A couple months later I was in New York and I saw him sitting in Lindy's and I went over. "Jack! Do you remember me? From Boston?" He said, "Sure, Paul Revere." I remember at a Friar's Roast once, he turned around and looked at Ed Sullivan and said, "Was the ground cold when you got up this morning?" He was brilliant. He was a very funny guy.

Kliph Nesteroff: How about Frank Gorshin?

Norm Crosby: Frank was brilliant. Frank was a great impressionist. He not only sounded like the people, but he looked like the people. He could make himself look like the people he was doing. That was his special talent. I knew him to say hello, but we never hung out.

Kliph Nesteroff: What was Don Rickles like back in those days?

Norm Crosby: Don Rickles and I are very good friends. I remember my first real big job in Las Vegas was the Sahara Hotel. I played the Sahara for a long time, I had a five year contract there, and Don was the big headliner in the lounge. We got to be very friendly. I remember Don when his kids were born. We go way back. We just went to his 45th anniversary. My wife and I went. On stage he does the insults; that's his act. Offstage he is just a lovely, sweet fellow.


Kliph Nesteroff: Jackie Vernon.

Norm Crosby: Oh, Jackie was a good friend of mine. I went to his funeral and I spoke. Jackie was terrific. He had a great sense of humor and a great act. It was just a tragedy when he passed away. 

Kliph Nesteroff: I always felt that Jackie was one of the funniest and one of the most underrated comedians of that era. 

Norm Crosby: I agree. I agree. He was very unique and had a wonderful style - the droll monotone. I love Jackie.


Kliph Nesteroff: How about Joe E. Ross. Did you ever get to know him through the nightclub circuit?

Norm Crosby: I never got to know him well. I did meet him. I did have breakfast with him one morning (laughs). He was exactly what he played on television; a big slob. He was eating and he looked up at me and he had stuff all over him. He said, "I am much better with solid foods." You're bringing back memories.


Kliph Nesteroff: Corbett Monica.

Norm Crosby:  Sure, I knew Corbett very well. Corbett lived in New Jersey, just over the George Washington Bridge. We all belonged to a golf club out there. When I was living in New York, we used to go every Sunday morning and the whole gang would hang out there at the golf club. We didn't even play golf, we'd just go there and hang out. Corbett used to be there all the time. Corbett worked Vegas quite a bit.


Kliph Nesteroff: Jack Carter. 

Norm Crosby: I see Jack every day. He lives here and our wives know each other and we go out to dinner a lot. I met him many, many, many years ago when he came to Boston to do a show and I was on the same bill. It was a private party for an individual. It wasn't a nightclub [or] a theater - just a function. I drove him back into town and we chatted. Jack isn't well. He doesn't walk easily. He uses a walker now and he's had trouble with his feet, but he's still sharp and he's still funny. Jack has been around.


Kliph Nesteroff: Buddy Hackett. 

Norm Crosby: Yes, Buddy, the same thing. We were very close. He used to come to our house, we'd go to their house. It was a very close family of people like Jan Murray and Buddy Hackett and Don Rickles and Shecky Greene and Jack Carter. We all knew each other and hung out and socialized.

Kliph Nesteroff: When your act took off, did you end up hiring any writers?


Norm Crosby: I had a lot of writers because I had a lot of television shows. The writers came with the shows. I did Norm Crosby's Comedy Shop for a lot of years and we had a lot of writers. I worked with one guy, David Panich, who was a brilliant writer. He wrote for Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett and a lot of stuff for me. He passed away very young. I don't really remember that many more.

Kliph Nesteroff: How did you get recruited to host The Comedy Shop?

Norm Crosby: Well, the people that were producing it came to me. They asked if I would do it. I have a very nice thing in the industry - people like me. I never bothered anybody, I never made a fuss and I'm easy to get along with. I knew all the comics, the New York comics, the Catskill comics, I knew everybody. So they wanted someone the other comics would be comfortable with. The show was a smash success. Unfortunately, the people that owned the show got into difficulty because they were bartering it, trying to trade it and make some deals that were not legitimate, so we ended up losing the show. We were all ready to go five days a week, then we lost it.


Kliph Nesteroff: What exactly was the problem? You said they were doing things that weren't legitimate.

Norm Crosby: They were bartering the show; things they don't allow you to do in the industry. For instance, they would go to a television station - in fact, I had a friend who ran a television station in Las Vegas and he told me. He said, "I want Norm Crosby's show." And they said, "Well, if you want Norm Crosby's show, you have to take our cooking show and our fishing show and our javelin throwing show" and whatever. You're not allowed to do that and that's what they did.


There were hundreds of comics on that show, but we didn't tape the show in sequence. We taped the comics one after another. The comics would come in the morning and do five minutes and we would tape them all day long, one after another. Then we would tape the mystery guest that came out through the door. There was a door there they knocked on and then the mystery guest would come out to introduce the last guest on the show. And those guests could be anyone from Tommy Lasorda to Elton John to Ernie Borgnine to Zsa Zsa Gabor. Celebrities would come out to introduce the last act - so then we would tape them one after another. Then the editing people would go at it and take four comics and a mystery guest and just put the show together. They would snip it and put the show together the way they wanted. That's why I always wore the same jacket.

Kliph Nesteroff: (laughs) Yeah.


Norm Crosby: That's the way they did it.

Kliph Nesteroff: You had some great people on there. I watched an episode with Slappy White.

Norm Crosby: Slappy White? Oh, yes, Slappy was on our show. Every comic in the world was on our show. Jay Leno, Howie Mandel and Nathan Lane, the Broadway actor, was on the show. Michael Keaton, Batman, was on the show doing stand-up comedy. It was an awesome thing.



Kliph Nesteroff: Had you been offered your own TV show before that?

 Norm Crosby: In those days, it wasn't like today with Ray Romano or Kevin James. All the comics today - those situation comedy shows feature a comic. They weren't doing that in my day. In my day, for comics, it was daytime television; it was Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore and Hollywood Squares. We did hundreds of daytime shows. And then at night it would be Dean Martin, Glen Campbell, Carol Burnett, Love Boat, you know. They had stars host their own shows featuring the comics. Then all of a sudden they had the comics being the stars of the sitcom and, unfortunately, that was not my era. 


Kliph Nesteroff: You appeared in a few episodes of Adam-12.

Norm Crosby: Oh, sure. Did a bunch of those.

Kliph Nesteroff: And you were in dramatic roles!

Norm Crosby: Sometimes comedic, sometimes dramatic. There's something you need to know: comedians can be wonderful actors, but not all actors can do comedy. Don Rickles is a wonderful actor. Milton Berle was a great actor. Real drama. Comics, generally, because of the very virtue of what they are, are pretty good actors. For dramatic actors, it's very difficult. They can't do stand-up comedy. They can't be funny. 


Kliph Nesteroff: Another guy that did a serious turn on Adam-12 was Foster Brooks. 

Norm Crosby: I knew Foster very well. I got Foster on The Dean Martin Show. That's where he really took off. I got him on that show. I saw him work somewhere. Maybe on The Tonight Show. I told Greg Garrison about him and he became a regular with Dean. Nice man. I liked Foster.

Kliph Nesteroff: You did malapropisms as opposed to double talk like Al Kelly. But did you know Al Kelly?

Norm Crosby: Yes, but Al Kelly did double talk. I never did that. I used proper words that didn't belong in the sentence. It was close enough that it sounded like the proper word. "Women need love and affliction."


Kliph Nesteroff: Were you familiar with Leo Gorcey's character in the Bowery Boys films? He did a lot with malapropisms.

Norm Crosby: Oh, right. No, I was not familiar with him, but a lot of people have told me about that. I narrated once a whole tribute to them. I think it was for HBO. 


Kliph Nesteroff: Did you ever encounter Pat Morita when he was a stand-up comic?

Norm Crosby: Sure! Oh, sure. I knew Pat. He was at the Sahara. He was in an all-Japanese show in the lounge, in the same lounge I worked. We'd have a drink or sit down or go out to eat together. Rickles and Shecky Greene - I had a lot of [Vegas] friends. We had a Vegas house. I kept a house in Vegas because I was there so much. We had friends that were not performers. I made a lot of friends, the executive chef at the Sahara, the lawyer from Caesar's, the manager of the Frontier was my very good friend. People that weren't acts that we got to be friendly with. I was a Las Vegas regular for twenty - twenty-five years.

Kliph Nesteroff: What brought that era to a close for you?

Norm Crosby: Well, they stopped bringing in acts and started having permanent shows. Sigfried and Roy or Celine Dionne - you know. No other acts would be working there. They stopped everything.