When I was growing up one of my favorite shows was The $1.98 Beauty Show with Rip Taylor. I remember seeing old re-runs of Queen for a Day and thinking how funny Rip was as a host of $1.98 and how this very offbeat, zany beauty contest was paying homage to the old classic show.
I would never imagine years later I would meet the legendary comedian and become good friends with him. Rip Taylor (don’t you dare confuse him with Rip Torn — two very different people) is an icon in the world of comedy. Rip has worked with many of the classic stars of Hollywood including Debbie Reynolds, Mike Douglas, Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Demi Moore, and so many more.
He has a great love for Las Vegas, choosing to make his home there for years. He’s headlined at many of the Casinos on the Strip and was named entertainer of the year on several occasions.
We met many years ago at a Friars Club event in Beverly Hills. I grew up in Hollywood so I’ve always been around celebrities and have never really been star struck. But seeing Rip Taylor sitting at the next table was such a thrill I broke my cardinal rule of never approaching a star and went up and introduced myself. After all I was the Candymaker to the Stars and had made the chocolate party favors for the evening.
So I felt I had a good introduction, until I veered off into schoolgirl fanatic territory when I gushed that I remembered watching him as a kid and went on to repeat a joke he had told that I said was the funniest joke I’d ever heard. That one about Rip going to Toulouse Lautrec’s birthday party, and before I could say another word Rip finished the joke for me, transporting me back to my childhood days laughing at the funny mustached man throwing the confetti on my TV.
He had me laughing out loud in the middle of the Friars Club that night. And from that day forward a beautiful friendship has blossomed. He roasted me at my birthday party a few years ago and had my friends and family rolling on the floor in laughter. A few years ago I had the pleasure of helping him when he was doing his one man show at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo. It was a sold out run that received rave reviews, and the most stars ever to come out to see Rip perform than any other show at the theatre.
I was so proud of him and amazed at his life’s story. We talk all the time and I’m so lucky to have him as my friend. Oh and the punch line of that joke … Rip gave Toulouse Lautrec a belt for his birthday. Toulouse put it on and turned blue … Rip exclaimed “TOO TIGHT, TOULOUSE?!” Still makes me giggle after all these years. Thanks, Rip.