That Old Black Magic by Tom Clavin
Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and the Golden Age of Las Vegas

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Both a love story and a tribute to the entertainment mecca, this exploration shines a spotlight on one of the hottest acts in Las Vegas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The illuminating depiction showcases the unlikely duo—a grizzled, veteran trumpeter and vocalist molded by Louis Armstrong and a meek singer in the church choir—who went on to invent “The Wildest.” Bringing together broad comedy and finger-snapping, foot-stomping music that included early forays into rock and roll, Prima and Smith’s act became wildly popular and attracted all kinds of star-studded attention. In addition to chronicling their relationships with Ed Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and other well-known entertainers of the day—and their performance of “That Old Black Magic” at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration—the narrative also examines the couple’s ongoing influence in the entertainment world. Running concurrent with their personal tale is their role in transforming Las Vegas from a small resort town in the desert to a booming city where the biggest stars were paid tons of money to become even bigger stars on stage and television.


About Tom Clavin

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Tom Clavin and Danny Peary are bestselling co-authors of Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero. Tom is also a former reporter for the New York Times and co-author of The Last Stand of Fox Company. Danny is a writer/researcher for “The Tim McCarver Show.”
Published November 1, 2010 by Chicago Review Press. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Former New York Times contributing reporter Clavin (Sir Walter: Walter Hagen and the Invention of Professional Golf, 2005, etc.) provides a gee-whiz look at singer-trumpeter Louis Prima’s Las Vegas heyday with spouse and musical partner Keely Smith.

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Dallas News

Nor had I heard that Smith had a romance with Sinatra after leaving Prima - possibly before.

Dec 05 2010 | Read Full Review of That Old Black Magic: Louis P...


David Lee Roth launched his post-Van Halen career with a (tepid by comparison) cover of the Prima classic, “Just a Gigolo.” The 1996 art show hit, Big Night, revolves around a possible Prima appearance at a Jersey Shore restaurant.

Jan 11 2011 | Read Full Review of That Old Black Magic: Louis P...

Bookmarks Magazine

And Keely still draws SRO audiences to her nightclub appearances. Now, on the occasion of Louis Prima’s 100th birthday, comes the first book on this duo, illustrating not only one of show business’s greatest love stories but also the V...

Dec 06 2010 | Read Full Review of That Old Black Magic: Louis P...

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