Sharing how she felt regarding the prospect of making her 1969 nightclub debut as a performer in Las Vegas, Nancy offers this analogy in her 1985 book, Frank Sinatra, My Father:
“To say that I was nervous was to say that uranium has a lot of zip.”
Fission of the uranium atom results in the release of energy; fission of Nancy’s apprehension was accomplished as she remembered the Principle. Nancy explains (in her book) the concept and technique, which she had learned from a singing teacher, Tina Taylor Rone:
International Hotel, 1969
Following Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley at the venue, Nancy made her nightclub debut on the stage of the 2,000-seat showroom of the International Hotel, on August 29, 1969. The three week engagement featured ten principal performers, which included the Osmond Brothers, the Blossoms, and Mac Davis. The production was staged by choreographer Hugh Lambert, whom Nancy married the following year.
Nancy recalls (in her 1985 book) her achievement:
“My whole team came through and this was, professionally, my shining hour. I had finally found what I do best.”
In her 1995 book, Frank Sinatra: An American Legend, Nancy refers to her opening night as “The Night of the Thousand Sinatras,” as her father (at Caesars) and her brother (at the Frontier) were also performing in Las Vegas.
At the post-show party, Nancy is pictured with Elvis, Joe Esposito, and her dad.
Caesars Palace, 1970
In August 1970, Nancy made her Caesars Palace debut in its main showroom, as the hotel celebrated its fourth anniversary. The August 22, 1970 issue of Billboard described the “fully developed variety show” as follows:
“Very reminiscent of a vaudeville bill, the show featured Miss Sinatra performing segments with slots allotted to her associates, the Blossoms and Osmond Brothers. The 10 Hugh Lambert Dancers were an added ingredient as were light drops which filled the stage and flower decorated swings for the girls to sit on, but not swing with.”
Nancy is pictured with Donny Osmond.
The September 12, 1970 Billboard reported on the show’s great success:
“The Nancy Sinatra Show at Caesars Palace broke all existing records for business done for one week of 14 performances in Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus.”
The program for the show (pictured below) indicated plans for the TV production which ultimately became known as Movin’ With Nancy, On Stage:
“For her premiere engagement at Caesars Palace, Miss Sinatra has mounted a spectacular, brilliantly paced show which may shortly be translated into a television production.”
On April 4, 1971, CBS broadcast the special in The Ed Sullivan Show time slot.
In a Sinatra Family Forum post, dated November 15, 2005, Nancy commented on the broadcast:
“Movin With Nancy, On Stage was filmed at Caesar’s Palace where we had shattered the attendance records in the showroom. Unfortunately it didn’t translate very well to television because the huge stage didn’t fit in the frame! But it’s a nice example of the shows we used to do back then and it shows how talented Hugh Lambert was as a stage director / choreographer. I’m happy we have it if for no other reason than that.”
Three decades later, Nancy visited the Donny & Marie talk show (broadcast: April 9, 1999) to promote her then-recently released CD, How Does It Feel. During her segment, Nancy, Donny and Marie viewed a clip of Nancy and Donny’s performance of “Teach Me How To Dance,” from the special.
Donny recalled his teen crush on Nancy.
International Hotel, 1971
In 1971, Nancy returned to the International Hotel, this time with Frankie, Sugar Ray Robinson, Hugh Lambert, the Jimmy Joyce Singers and the Muppets. The show received a glowing review (Billboard, July 3, 1971):
“Frank Sinatra Jr. has come into his own. He is totally, outstandingly good. His voice is striong, clear and the low notes rich. His style is his and his warmth comes across on the big stage. He works beautifully with his sister…Miss Sinatra is a delicate delight. Her singing ranges from an old-fashioned ‘Who,’ the sorrowful ‘Friday’s Child,’ the beautiful ‘Impossible,’ to her hit ‘Boots.’ Beautifully costumed, her dancing with Sugar Ray is alive while the number with husband Hugh Lambert is lovingly tender.”
Here is the menu from the show.
This 1971 show at the International was to be adapted for a TV special. However, production for what would have been Nancy’s third TV special, Movin’ With Nancy, Nice ‘n’ Easy, was never completed. In a SFF post (dated November 15, 2005), Nancy explains why the project did not reach fruition:
“Movin’ With Nancy, Nice ‘n’ Easy was taped at NBC Burbank studios. It’s a shame we couldn’t finish it (no money) because it would have been a good show. What we have of it is more a collection of what would now be called music videos. They are still entertaining and fun – especially the Muppets segments.”
Riviera Hotel, 1972
In 1972, Nancy and Lee Hazlewood appeared at the Riviera Hotel. Another rave review followed, in the February 26, 1972 Billboard:
“Gowned in a backless, silver pants outfit and banked in a magnificent stage set with white light she knows how to sell hard, man type songs to the cafe crowd. Opening with ‘Let Yourself Go,’ she goes immediatley into ‘Candy Man,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When He’s Gone,’ and a country arrangement of ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’ which had heavy use of the steel guitar…[Lee Hazlewood's] duets with Miss Sinatra are solid and strong. The RCA recording team did their hits plus the new ‘Arkansas Coal.'”
Ultimately, this show became the basis for the January 1973 Swedish TV documentary, Nancy & Lee In Las Vegas.
Sahara Hotel, 1972-73
In late 1972, Nancy moved to the Sahara Hotel’s Congo Room. Laugh-In cast member Arte Johnson opened for Nancy. Nancy had guest-starred on a few episodes of his TV series, three years earlier.
For her May 15 -28, 1973 engagement at the Congo Room, Nancy’s then-labelmates at RCA, the Everly Brothers, as well as comedian Pat Buttram and Hugh Lambert, appeared with Nancy.
Pictured with Nancy, from the show, are Phil and Don Everly (left) and Hugh (right).
During this time Nancy discovered singer Bob Anderson, a Vietnam veteran whom she placed in her show. Later, Nancy introduced him to a national audience on The Merv Griffin Show.
Nancy, Hugh and Pat Buttram also performed at the Nugget, in Reno, NV.
Caesars Palace, 1974
September 4-10, 1974: Nancy, Frank and Frankie appeared with Woody Herman in the South Shore Room at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. The show moved to Caesars Palace for a September 12-18 engagement.
Caesars Palace, 1982
In the booklet of the FS Vegas CD/DVD box set, Nancy remembers the engagement:
“In 1982 Dad said, ‘Go on tour with me for a year, and let’s see what happens.’ We both agreed it would be fun for the kids to see what the road was about, and when they weren’t in school they traveled with us. It started out with a two-week run at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.”
In her 1985 book, Nancy recalls her father’s selflessness:
“The great moments were when he’d bring me back for an extra bow, sharing the tumultuous applause that greeted his sudden appearance on stage. These would be wonderful gestures for any performer who wasn’t his kid…but for me…”