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December 11, 2018

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Photos: Rita Rudner wades in The Venetian fountain to ‘christen’ arrival

Rita Rudner's Welcoming at The Venetian

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Rita Rudner’s welcoming ceremony at The Venetian on Jan. 11, 2011.

Comedy star Rita Rudner was welcomed back after an interrupted 12-year absence to her new home as the newest headliner at The Venetian yesterday. It was a grandiose arrival befitting a long-lost queen complete with a red carpet covered with pink rose petals. Rita wore a red Valentino dress and a pink and purple fur coat for the occasion.

Rita Rudner's Welcoming at The Venetian

Rita Rudner's welcoming ceremony at The Venetian on Jan. 11, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Rita Rudner Arrives at The Venetian

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Peter Saide, Rita Rudner, Kristi Holden and Jeff Leibow at Rudner's welcoming ceremony at The Venetian on Jan. 11, 2011.

Rita emerged from her limo to a delightful scene of singing gondoliers, Streetmosphere performers and cheering onlookers. She jumped on a bell cart with her bags in tow and was wheeled onto the red carpet and into the lobby for more surprises. A butler waited with champagne, while James Beard Award-winning Chef Luciano Pellegrini from Valentino and Executive Chefs Mark Hopper from Bouchon and Juan Pentes and Daniel Marquez from Taqueria Canonita had delicious bites for her to taste, including pink cookies.

Rita exclaimed, “Pink is my favorite color!” A spa attendant from Canyon Ranch SpaClub was on hand providing hot towels for Rita to freshen up between welcome ceremony stops. Jersey Boys cast members Peter Saide (Bob Gaudio) and Jeff Leibow (Nick Massi) and Kristi Holden (Christine Daae) from Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular were on hand to welcome Rita into the entertainment family at The Venetian and Palazzo.

Rita hammed it up for the cameras, tucked a napkin into her couture dress to enjoy the food and even waded into The Venetian lobby fountain.

“I’m so happy to be here at The Venetian. I have beautiful smelling roses, I have pink cookies, I have champagne, and it’s not even 10 a.m. yet,” Rita said. “What a great start to my day and a fabulous welcome to The Venetian!”

In an exclusive interview, Rita told me: “It starts out for 6 months, but it’s open-ended, so if I am happy and The Venetian is happy, it can go on forever. I’m taking a cue from George Burns: If he could play Vegas when he was 90, so can I, and I could come back maybe six weeks a year when I’m up there.

“I’m not retiring yet, and besides, it could take 10 years to build our home in California, so I could be here that long. I keep moving casino showrooms every five years, and now at The Venetian, it’s the closest ever to my home here. I could literally hop down the street to work. It’s so close, the next stop in this journey could be doing the show from my living room.”

Rita explained how she’s come full circle in her career now back at The Venetian, the site of the former Sands.

“Before I even went to start the run at New York-New York, I’d played the Sands as a headliner and was offered a regular engagement at the Copa Lounge there. But it changed owners, the Sands was imploded eight days after I was supposed to start, and I lost that deal. That was back in the late ’90s. Now in a sense, this is coming full circle. I’m back on the very spot where it could have all started for me in Vegas and fulfilling that original contract.”

She begins her residency in the 742-seat Venetian Showroom on Saturday appearing three nights a week.

“What I love most about this property is that it’s the first I’ve played that has a shopping mall inside, so I never have to worry about the weather outside. Every day now I can walk to work, shop, do the show and stroll home. Could you ask for anything better?”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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