The slightly elevated bar had suddenly became the focal point of the hotel because Frank Sinatra and his wife, Barbara, were sitting in a large, roped-off area. Guests and entourage members ordered drinks in this special section. I noticed some of my new acquaintances from backstage: Jilly Rizzo (Frank’s best friend), Larry “Nifty” Victorson (Frank’s personal assistant), Flip Wilson, and Dan McIntyre (guitarist for Frank’s son), among others.
Don Costa, who had extended the invitation to me, was not yet present, so I was reluctant to join the group. I eyed two prime spots that were not yet taken: one was next to Frank Sinatra, and the other was next to that seat.
During my moment of hesitation, a woman jumped into the chair next to Frank. I quietly reprimanded myself for being a slowpoke and nabbed the remaining one. I made causal conversation, pretending like I belonged; and even eavesdropped on the conversation between Frank and the young woman on my left.
“I want to go gamble,” she said. “May I please have five-hundred dollars?”
The singer handed her cash.
“I’m going to put it all on roulette. On black,” she announced and trotted into the casino.
I was shocked. Was this woman a chip chatter? Did Mr. Sinatra just hand out money to strangers? Maybe I should ask for a thousand. Or two thousand. I wondered if my strategy to accept chips only when offered had been all wrong. I thought about the countless self-help books that suggest being direct with one’s needs, rather than waiting like a wallflower at the school dance. My spontaneous right brain urged me to go for it with Frank, while my logic-oriented left brain begged me to refrain. I glanced at a life-size, plastic camel, hoping for advice.
His serene expression told me to be content with my journey rather than risk unnecessary humps. I was becoming friends with some interesting people; it was not wise to wager it all on green.
“I won.” The woman returned to her seat and offered the money back to Mr. Sinatra. “Here’s your five hundred dollars.”
He refused the cash.
“Thanks, Daddy,” she said.
I suddenly realized my blunder. The young woman was not a chip chatter; she was Tina Sinatra. I was thankful for the camel’s sound advice.
“Let’s head over to Caesars for some dinner,” Frank suggested to everyone in the VIP area.
Because I was in the right place at the right time, I was included in the invitation.
Rebel in High Heels also details Charlotte’s adventures with a Prince, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, President Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, Jerry Lee Lewis and other stars. In March 2015, Charlotte was voted “One of 15 Most Notorious Party Crashers in the World.”