I phoned Keely Smith in Palm Springs to hear her very personal feelings on Taylor Hackford"s very personal production of "Louis and Keely Live At The Sahara" whch he bows (financially and artistically) at the Geffen's small (130-seat) Audrey Skirball Kenis theater Thursday night, starring Jake Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith.
Keely, who said she celebrated her 81st birthday by singing for a Heart Fund benefit in the desert, is feeling great and starts a two-week gig at the Rzz Room in the Nikko hotel in SanFran on March 24. (Louis died in 1978 at 67) And she's talking to Concord about recording "live" with a contemporary singer–while she still believes Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole were the greatest of all time but didn't dig duetting, technically, with either.
Will Keey attend the play's bow? "I don't think it would be right," she says. However, Taylor Hackford has spoken to her, she confirms "and he was very nice and invited me to see it." She hasn't spoken to any one about legal rights. And having once seen the show with by its originators in its pre-Geffen stage–she takes offense, she says on being called a drunk. "I wasn't (a drunk)–although Frank tried to make me one," she laughed. Yes, the relationship "went on with Frank until he died. He asked me to marry him–and couldn't believe I turned him down." She has no fella at present. "I don't have to answer to any one," she laughed.
"I'm a stay-at-home person now." (She spends her time with her two daughters–(53 and 51) one in L.A., the other in the Springs.) Reflecting on the Sahara–and Vegas– during the '50s, she allows, "Those were fun days." I confirmed, having chronicled many of those all-night Vegas nights. She has no desire to check out Las Vegas now– "Today, everyone is full of —-," she laughed that unmistakeable whisly–excuse it–Coca Cola–laugh.