This week, Ira spoke with Bob Anderson, the world’s greatest singing impressionist, performing at the Italian American Club February 16. In this episode of “Talk About Las Vegas With Ira,” Bob talks about his career in Las Vegas; his Frank Sinatra performance at Carnegie Hall; his first impression (Sammy Davis Jr.) and the man responsible for starting him on his career in singing impressions (Merv Griffin); the two new albums coming up as Bob sings as himself; why his act today includes impressions, but is not limited to it; what advice Tony Bennett gave him; why he works out and vocalizes every day; how he is the last guy from an era, a different world of music; and why he wants to keep the greats from that era alive.
In 1973, Bob snuck into the Sahara’s Congo Room to watch a Nancy Sinatra rehearsal. During that rehearsal, Nancy’s opening act, the Everly Brothers, got into an argument and walked out. Enter 23-year-old Bob Anderson. He told the musical conductor that he was a singer, so with only a few hours until the start of the show and no opening act, Nancy Sinatra’s producer handed Anderson a mic and let him prove himself. He did. Anderson went on in place of the Everly Brothers that night and played the entire two-week engagement at the Sahara. Shortly after that engagement, Anderson accompanied Nancy Sinatra to “The Merv Griffin Show.” That was Anderson’s first appearance on national television and he got a standing ovation.
Merv Griffin was very impressed with Anderson and months later, after seeing him perform at the Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills, he invited Anderson to his 50th birthday celebration. It was at Merv Griffin’s party, attended by many Hollywood elite, where Anderson started singing and imitating the voices of well- known vocalists. The crowd loved it! Cary Grant was sitting on the floor by the piano saying, “This is really amazing, I have never seen anything like this!”
Merv Griffin spent the next 24 hours writing Bob’s act and one week later, he brought him to Caesars Palace for a return engagement on his show and introduced Anderson to the world as “The Singing Impressionist!”
A short time later, Bob was hired to perform for two weeks at The Top of the Dunes and the rest, as they say, is history.
Those two weeks turned into 155 weeks of sold out performances.
Anderson soon became a regular on every talk and variety show with over 200 appearances on television including: Showtime, HBO, Mike Douglas, The Merv Griffin Show, David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Anderson was the only guest in the history of The Tonight Show to be invited on the show twice in one week.
Anderson has performed in more Las Vegas show rooms than just about anyone in the history of Las Vegas entertainment.
When Las Vegas celebrated 50 years of entertainment, Bob Anderson was voted #12, between Barbra Streisand and Ray Charles, of Las Vegas all- time favorite acts. He has been voted “Best Entertainer” in Las Vegas six times and has been inducted into Casino Legends Hall of Fame and The Las Vegas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame.
Anderson wrote and starred in the award winning show, FRANK The Man The Music at The Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas, once home to the Sands Hotel and the infamous Copa Room. Within weeks of opening, FRANK became the talk of the town and the must-see show.