It was a simple passing in the news on Monday that Breck Wall had died at the age of 75. If the name rings a bell, than you are really a Vegas fanatic.
Breck Wall is best known around Las Vegas for his 40 years of the comic revue “Bottoms Up.” I first caught the act when we moved here in 2001. The campy, vaudeville-style burlesque show was playing at the Flamingo. The last incarnation of it was at the Harmon in 2007.
The show was cute and corny in its own weird. Vaudeville done Vegas style. Breck was the ringmaster of a group of aged actors trying to be sexy, funny and shocking. There was nothing really shocking or sexy by today’s standards, and that’s what gave it it’s new humor. But they gave it their best shot every afternoon. One could only imagine the real shock value of the show some twenty years ago. Maybe half the fun of the show was watching senior citizens trying to be shocking, sexy and funny. Either way, it was a Vegas institution.
Between that first show and the the last incarnation, I had gotten to know Breck from a distance. It seemed like he knew anyone who was anybody in the entertainment business. If there was any entertainment news or tid-bit somebody needed to know, it was Breck who could probably fill in the details.
You couldn’t really miss Breck at an event. He had the presence about him. Always the showman and entertainer. If you think Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, you have Breck Wall. well, at least that’s who he always reminded me of.
At the Harmon, I actually got to sit down and talk with him. You could tell he was in the early stages of Alzheimer and he was still not back on his feet after losing his life partner the year before. Yet he was always there with a smile, a story and willing to give it 110%.
Not only did this man had over forty years of vaudeville/burlesque/Vegas on his resume, he had a unique claim to fame. He was business friends with Jack Ruby and was called to testify at the first president’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy in 1964.
He was one of the last known people to talk to Jack before he killed Lee Harvey Oswald and had visited him in the jail after his arrest. According to Breck, he was still his friend, you don’t just abandon friends. That’s something you don’t hear in Vegas anymore.
Breck Wall had no survivors. He will be cremated, but word is that friends are organizing a memorial service for a later date. There probably will be an initiative to fund a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.
Breck was a class act and I know he will be missed by many.
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