By Bill Dudley

What a busy weekend. Friday afternoon I finally finished decorating my Silver Tip Christmas Tree I cut down from 8 thousand feet high in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s adorned with lighted snowmen, snowballs, Santas, and of course bubble lights.

Photo courtesy of Bill Dudley

Photo courtesy of Bill Dudley

Friday night I attended the Frank Sinatra 99th birthday bash in Rancho Mirage, sponsored by the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center hosted by comedian Tom Dreesen. Along with Tim Reid (later of WKRP in Cincinnati), Tom was 1/2 of the first (and maybe only) bi-racial comedy team from 1968-1975. Dreesen told many great stories of his near 14 year tenure as Sinatra’s opening act. We heard the funny stuff plus a touching story of Sinatra realizing toward the end of his career, that he needed the audience more than it needed him.

This was a heartfelt performance that encompassed interesting stories of everything from Frank’s bad driving, to his charity work, and knack for giving away everything from cufflinks to cars to those who coveted them.

Dreesen also had fond memories of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, who he had worked with prior to Sinatra. Did you know Dean was actually the real tough guy of the three ? Martin at one time was actually a professional boxer. While at The White House in the early 70’s, Sammy’s hug of President Nixon ticked off many of his fans, including 20,000 who booed him heavily at a concert awhile after that. Sammy was such a dynamic performer, he decided his version of “I’ve Gotta Be Me” would bring the crowd back. It did!

Sammy felt that as a free black American, he could embrace whomever he wanted to. The Rat Pack: Frank, Dean and Sammy, all consummate entertainers, the likes of which we may never see again. It wasn’t until after the show, I discovered that Dean Martin’s son Craig was seated just to my right, and Barbara Sinatra a few seats over.

Saturday night I was on hand for the Altadena Christmas Tree lighting of the giant 130 year old deodar cedar trees. This is the oldest tree lighting event of it’s kind, and dates back to 1920. Cruising up  Santa Rosa Ave, you are surrounded by spectacular giants of light.

Sunday afternoon after a rousing WAVE Sunday Brunch at the original Spaghettini, I slipped over to Hollywood for the final afternoon of food and drink at the legendary “Cat And Fiddle” on Sunset.After 33 years at this vintage location which has long been a hangout for the stars and studio workers, and is on the National register of Historic Places, the “Cat And Fiddle” has lost it’s lease. I was told the property has out of town owners who prefer doubling the rent than to keep a legendary hangout where it belongs.

Sunday night we hit the South Torrance Christmas lights, which takes about 2 hours to capture.


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