The Johnny Holiday Program was an outstanding show done in the style of the classic Supper Clubs, with a touch of Bing Crosby’s vintage radio programs. It was a great mix of Big Band music, sensational singers, humor, a chorus line of dancers, and fine dining. Who could ask for anything more?
If it were a movie, it would be considered a blockbuster, because the show that launched the new monthly series from the Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center was a marvelous musical and visual extravaganza filled with surprises. There was a Valentine’s Day theme to the initial romantic evening last Friday. In addition to featuring the fun-loving Johnny Holiday and his Big Band, the Dean Mora Orchestra, lovely songbird Christine Nelson, the talented crooner Adam Tunney, and the Satin Dollz Pin Up Dancers were also part of the program. Holiday made sure he gave a salute to the Armed Forces and a shout out to the USO too.
Each show every month will have a special guest performer, and for the first evening it was Toni Prima, the daughter of Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Among many great tunes, Toni lovingly sang her mother’s version of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” with Keely in the audience. Actually, several celebrities were on hand, enjoying a sophisticated night out with dinner and dancing.
The dance floor was busy all night with many couples who looked like they couldn’t wait to put their ballroom dancing lessons to the test. And there were many couples, young and mature, who took the opportunity to slow dance holding someone they love. The Satin Dollz Pin Up Dancers took over the floor several times to stage a performance that included a high-kicking chorus line. Everyone was delighted.
The audience came for the entertainment and dancing, but those who came early to dine in the majestic Empire Ballroom also enjoyed a gourmet three-course dinner. The Sportsmen’s Lodge is offering a Dinner and Dancing package at $69; general admission (dancing only) is priced at only $20; and there is a no-host bar. For such an elegant evening of course cocktail dress/jacket is required. I spotted several couples who embraced the bygone era by sporting period attire. It added to the charm of the atmosphere created by the Sportsmen’s Lodge style of “old school cool with a new cool vibe.”
Johnny Holiday reports, “This is a triumphant debut. Having been sort of a musical gadabout off and on for about 43 years, I certainly am delighted to be working in The Empire Room at The Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City on a monthly basis. For me, this new chapter for myself and our strolling players is indeed special and exciting.”
A veteran performer who tells tales about his great uncle Bing Crosby, Holiday has performed with legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Jerry Vale, Dick Haymes, Nancy Wilson, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Laine, Mel Torme, Tony Martin, and many more who helped create the Golden Age of singers and songs.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer The Valley, indeed all of Los Angeles, such an amazing night of dinner, dancing, and classic entertainment. And the most amazing thing is that Johnny’s show attracts people of all ages, from twenty-something folks to those who remember the ‘old days’ when Supper Clubs were commonplace. Most locals have at least one fond memory relating to the Sportsmen’s Lodge, and we look forward to adding many more fabulous memories,” states The Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center General Manager, Laurence Whiting.
Next on the schedule is the March 15 for The Johnny Holiday Program, featuring John Mills and Elmer Hopper presenting The Mills Brothers as the special guest stars. John Mills, son, grandson and nephew of the original group’s members, told me how he felt about carrying on this new tradition of presenting great music from the Golden Age of Music. Mills says he’s glad to come to The Sportsmen’s Lodge “because it has a reputation for promoting so many great events here over the years. The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters have held their events here for many years, so a lot of contemporaries have always had a familiarity here. And it’s wonderful to see the great reception the show has had tonight. For Johnny Holiday to bring a world class show like this here, and for it to be supported by the new owners, we’re quite happy and looking forward to seeing everyone on March 15.” Call (818) 755-5000 for information and tickets.