I’m often asked what the difference is between the Reno of today and the Reno of “the golden age”. That golden age occurred from about 1950 to 1970. The one thing that distinguishes it from the current status can be summed up in one word. That word is glamour.
In that Reno of yesteryear, you could run into such celebrities as Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Walter Cronkite, Liberace, Bill Cosby, Rowan & Martin, Nelson Rockefeller, Lorne Greene, Jim Arness, Wayne Newton, Kay Starr, Jimmy Durante, Sophie Tucker, Carol Channing, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Harry James, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and many others.
That era also spawned many special events such as the Virginia City Camel Races, the Reno Air Races, a rebirth of the Reno Rodeo and hydroplane races on Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe.
Reno was also the site of numerous A-list movies such as Mother Is a Freshman starring Loretta Young and Van Johnson, Apartment for Peggy starring William Holden, Jeanne Crain and Edmund Gwenn, Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble starring Rooney. Mr. Belvedere Goes to College starring Clifton Webb and Shirley Temple. 5 Against the House starring Kim Novak, Guy Madison and Brian Keith.
Last Friday night, a touch of that “glamour” returned when Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller appeared before a capacity audience at Reno’s Downtown Event Center. O’Reilly, who is best known for his nightly television show and his authorship of the bestselling “Killing” books appeared solo after Miller, a professional comedian, opened the show with a long monologue. Then, the two appeared together to answer questions submitted by the audience.
The Event Center is an imposing venue for downtown Reno as it seats more patrons than any of the casino showrooms. The sound system is state-of-the-art and while our seats were the furthest from the stage, we never missed a syllable as we watched from our perch in the Eldorado Hotel Box high above the ground floor.
For his opening diatribe, Miller began his remarks by castigating the millennials in our country. He referred to them as overgrown, over-privileged and dependent on social media for their contact with other human beings. His best line about them was that he had taken a position himself as a lifeguard at a college safe space in order to prevent the students from drowning in their own BS.
He then took numerous swipes at the democratic political party. His main targets were Nancy Polosi and Harry Reid. His one liner that received the greatest amount of applause and laughter was when he said, “Harry Reid, that’s not a name—that’s a description.” For his stint, Miller stood behind a podium while O’Reilly did his schtick in a free-wheeling manner and strode about the stage and gave vent to his powerful voice.
During his turn, O’Reilly abandoned the “Fair and Balanced” approach that he features on his television show and played to the mostly republican audience. It is doubtful that there were any democrats in attendance. He summarized the current presidential race by saying that never in history has there been two more unlikeable candidates. He said that he was amazed Donald Trump emerged triumphant over the large field of republican candidates and that Bernie Sanders might have defeated Hillary if the DNC had not conspired against him. He noted that Sanders was such an extreme socialist that he would even be thrown out of Venezuela. He then went through a couple of famous incidents when he met Hillary and Barack Obama personally on separate occasions. He got his most applause when he said that he thought Nevada would go republican and that it only has six electoral votes, yet that could conceivably mean the difference in a very close race.
In addition to the O’Reilly Miller show, the downtown area was clogged by hundreds of motorcycles for Street Vibrations. And when Miller first came on, he apologized for the late start to the evening by saying the town was clogged by some sort of moped convention.