Merrin has many celebrity memories, including Jackie Robinson

By Norm Clarke  (VSiN Columnist) 

April 16, 2017 12:05 AM
FullSizeRender
Jackie Robinson with Bruce Merrin in the early 1970s.
© Courtesy photo

Las Vegas public relations man Bruce Merrin has reeled in many famous Hollywood clients over the years.

U.S. presidents? He’s booked all of them since Ronald Reagan, for public speaking appearances, including a president-in-the-making, Donald Trump.

Then there was a dinner with Johnny Carson at his Malibu home. Carson gave him some life-changing advice.

When Michael Landon of “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie” fame learned he had pancreatic cancer, he called Merrin to set up a televised press conference.

One time Merrin flew first class with a dog. Not just any dog. Lassie was one of Hollywood’s biggest celebrity animals.

His first sports superstar booked for a paid speaking engagement was Jackie Robinson.

Merrin sent me an email on Saturday after I retweeted a photo of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dedication of a statue of Robinson sliding into a base. The unveiling of the statue, on a plaza at Dodger Stadium, commemorated the 70th  anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

“This so touched my heart,” said Merrin, who attended UCLA, Robinson’s alma mater.

Merrin had met Robinson in 1971 or 1972 on a set for the filming of “Sports Challenge,” which tested star athletes’ sports knowledge.

“I owe this to my dad, Dan Merrin. He was the producer. Dad booked Jackie on the show,” said Bruce. The show’s host was Dick Enberg.

“I picked up Jackie and his wife at LAX. We had dinner at the Brown Derby. He was booked on the show with Duke Snider and Carl Erskine of the Dodgers.”

“A month later I booked Jackie with Bank of America,” recalled Merrin, who, as a kid, had seen the trio of Dodger stars play at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

Robinson died on October 24, 1972 at the age of 53. The cause of death was complications from heart disease and diabetes. He was almost blind by middle age.

Dan Merrin and his family had moved in 1956 to Las Vegas, where he became general manager and executive vice president of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.

That year he booked a 11-year-old singing sensation named Brenda Lee. For her 12th birthday, a pool party was planned and Bruce accompanied her to the soiree.

Later, young Merrin sat in the front row “and she sang her hit, ‘Jambalaya,’ to me,” said Merrin.

After attending film school at UCLA, he got a big break in 1973 when he booked Landon as his first PR client. Merrin got Landon booked on NBC’s “Tonight Show” starring Carson. After the show, Carson invited Landon and Merrin to do dinner at his Malibu home.

During the dinner conversation, Carson asked Merrin why he didn’t start a celebrity speakers bureau.

Landon offered to be his first client and Carson added he’d be his second.

The scene and heard

Among the promotion nights I’d pay to see when the NHL arrives in Las Vegas: Knights in White Satin Night at T-Mobile Arena. Bring in the Moody Blues for a mini-concert and auction off those satin uniforms for charity...

Stat of the day: The Raiders allowed just 18 sacks and 41 QB hits in 16 games in 2016, first in the NFL — via NFL Network.

Hot links

Peyton Manning spills the beans about the meaning of ‘Omaha!’ ‪http://dlvr.it/NvG3Mz 

Beast Mode Returns: Top 10 Marshawn Lynch Moments http://bit.ly/2p3ZKVE

Photo coverage of Coachella http://bit.ly/2pnV

Every day is ice cream day for this sugar-craving squirrel http://pic.twitter.com/3wUqJBK4Sy

Recommended reading: Mark Zeigler’s farewell piece on Steve Fisher http://bit.ly/2oLAySV

On this day…

April 16, 1964: Breck Wall brings his comedy/vaudeville/burlesque show “Bottoms Up” from Dallas to Las Vegas, debuting at The Castaways Hotel, where The Mirage now stands. The blackout sketch revue plays venues over five decades before Wall – an old pal of Jack Ruby’s – dies in 2017.

April 17, 1981: Three thousand people pack Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion for the funeral of Joe Louis, the legendary boxer who worked as a greeter at the hotel for the last decade of his life. “Howard Hughes dies, with all billions, not a tear,” Muhammad Ali says. “Joe Louis, everybody cried.”

Sightings

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, with friends at Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan on Friday. They capped their dinner with root beer floats and a peanut butter pie sundae.

The punch line

“You’re either a jew or a beaver in heat.” – Don Rickles, to a lady wearing a mink stole – From Variety.

back to news

QuickPicks_300x250_080920_NFLkickoff

Headlines

View All
  • Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Happy Wednesday! Today we have a loaded betting menu featuring 30-plus  college basketball games, 10 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown...
  • Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Wednesday’s UFC event begins at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, so the theme might as well be Beatdowns and Bagels. Max Holloway dominated Calvin Kattar...
  • Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Kevin Na shot 61-65 on the weekend to win the Sony Open in Hawaii at as high as 80-1 odds. Na (40-1) will attempt to win in back-to-back weeks this week...
  • Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Last week we discussed the importance of taking a positive approach to college basketball futures betting. That is, focus on playing plus numbers instead...
  • First impressions as hockey returns

    First impressions as hockey returns

    It’s great to have hockey back, but bettors must temper their expectations and trust their preseason projections. Therefore, this is a great time...
  • Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    The NFL’s divisional playoff round was a mixed bag for us here at the Tuley’s Takes home office, though I spent Saturday at Circa with VSiN...
  • Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    And then there were four. We’re looking forward to what is maybe the single best day on the NFL calendar: Championship Sunday. The matchups are...
  • Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    For as different as this NFL season has been due to the impact of COVID-19, the first two weeks of the playoffs have generally followed the trends of...
  • How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    (To view the charts with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly) In a typical college basketball season, and to a lesser degree this season,...
  • Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    It’s generally easy for oddsmakers to post lines on most NFL games. The numbers are typically airtight, unlike in college football. A quarterback...
  • Championship Sunday capsules

    Championship Sunday capsules

    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Buccaneers at Packers (3:05 p.m. ET Sunday) The Packers opened as consensus four-point home favorites against the...
  • With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    Another week gone, and bettors have yet to see any NBA team separate itself from the pack. The Los Angeles Lakers seem like the surest thing on the board,...

Google Play
App Store
Close