Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Fountains incident recalls night at Caesars Palace starring Shecky Greene

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Submitted photo

Shecky Greene, Mr. Lounge in the 1970s.

The Thursday night incident in which temporarily dry Strip visitor Manuel Acevedo-Gutierrez plunged into the lake that contains the Bellagio Fountains, reportedly damaging an inflatable raft and the fountains themselves, is not the most famous fountains stunt in the history of the Strip.

It’s not even close.

In a slice of Strip lore that might be lost to time for many visitors to Las Vegas, the greatest fountain crashing ever was the 1968 drive into the Caesars Palace fountains by venerable comedian Shecky Greene. At the time, the fountains were a new attraction, made famous largely by Evel Knievel’s luckless leap across the water a year earlier.

Famously, Greene (who later admitted to being quite besotted) drove his Olds into those fountains. He hit the brakes, turned on the windshield wipers and waited for the cops to inevitably turn up. When they did, Greene legendarily said, “No spray wax.”

In an interview in May 2009, Greene recalled that night after I asked him, simply, “Did that really happen?”

“It did happen, yes, it did,” he said. “But it wouldn’t happen today. What happened, they just put a breakaway lamp four days before on the Strip. Before, they had a heavy lamp there, and in the old days before then, it would have killed me.

“So I hit off the lamp, hit some signs and veered across into the fountains.”

Greene then laughed.

“You know, I’ve been in show business for 60 years, been pretty successful,” he said, accurately. “But one of the few things people want to know is, boy, is that story true?”

It is, and whenever someone splashes into a water attraction on the Strip, we can toast Shecky Greene, who did it first and most memorably.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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