It was a simple passing in the news on Monday. Sadly it was an easy thing to miss. Las Vegas show creator and actor 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.” Yes, forty years! I first caught the act when we moved here in 2001. The campy, vaudeville-style burlesque show was playing at the Flamingo. Over those four decades, the show had played probably every resort on the Strip! The last incarnation of it was at the Harmon in 2007.
The show was cute and corny in its own weird. Consider it “Vaudeville, 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 its 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 true Vegas institution.
Between that first show and the last incarnation, I had gotten to know Breck from a distance. It seemed like he knew anyone and everyone who was anybody in the entertainment business. And that’s a lot of people. If there was any entertainment news or tid-bit somebody needed to know, it was Breck who could probably fill in the details. I miss that.
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 a close resemblance to Breck Wall. well, at least that’s who he always reminded me of.
Last year at the Harmon Showroom, 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 partner the year before. Yet he was always there with a smile, a story, and willing to give it 110%.
Breck’s Claim to Fame
Not only did this man had over forty years of vaudeville/burlesque/Vegas on his resume, but he also 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.
For you too young to know. Jack Ruby killed Jack Oswald as they arrested Oswald for shooting President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. ( See it on YouTube)
Breck Wall was one of the few people allowed to visit Ruby after he was arrested. They had to sneak him into the hospital. According to Breck, he was still his friend, you don’t just abandon friends. That’s something you don’t hear in Las 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. Even all those entertainers and promoters who publicly shunned, any knowledge of Breck because of his lifestyle choices. Yet they know their careers here in Las Vegas were helped along by something he did for them.