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Vincent Lopez began his first band around 1917 and by the early 20's was one of the most popular dance bandleaders in the country along with Paul Whiteman, Isham Jones and Ted Lewis to name a select few. In 1941, He opened a short engagement at the Hotel Taft Grill that ended up lasting over 20 years and for a time,Lopez Portrait held the record as having the longest continuing career in the history of the dance bands (Les Brown now holds it). The Lopez orchestra was also the first dance band to broadcast live on the "wireless" at the pioneer radio station WJZ on November 27, 1921.

Among the stars that began their career with Lopez were Artie Shaw, Xavier Cugot, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Tony Pastor. Also vocalists Betty and Marion Hutton sang with his orchestra but on one occasion, part-time saxophonist Rudy Vallee was told by Lopez NOT to sing... an order he evaded the minute Lopez left the bandstand.

Wednesdays through Fridays, Vincent had everybody howling at the Hotel Taft's Grill Room in New York City with his "Shake the Maracas" show. People came from miles around to participate and compete for miniature piano lighters and a set of maracas, and to hear Vincent Lopez utter that famous line on the microphone like he did at WJZ over 30 years earlier ..."Lopez Speaking."

Tips on Tables - Robert W. Dana - August 21, 1954

14th Year at Taft, Lopez Still at Top

One of the most successful figures in the hotel and cafe phase of show business over a period of years is Vincent Lopez, musician, band leader, showman, scholar and author. On June 27 Vincent and his orchestra, started their 14th year of playing for lunch and dinner- dancing in the Grill Room of the Taft, Seventh Ave. and 50th St.

I dropped by the grill Wednesday afternoon to say hello to the piano maestro and find out about a possible state of boredom. He was alive, articulate and elated over the success of his first presentation of "Fashions With Music." And he could not wait to finish telling about this new caper before he spread out his whole deck of previous innovations: "Shake the Maracas," "Meet the People Interviews" and Monday afternoon concerts.

Style Show With Music. "Fashions With Music" will be featured once a month, showing dresses of leading designers and tied In with the band's music. A panel of feminine judges Is selected from the audience to choose three outstanding dresses from about eight. These, made to fit, are awarded to three winners of numbers In a balloon dance directly following the modeling.

As Mr. Lopez says: "In Tin 'Pan Alley, when a composer gets an idea for a song, he almost thinks of a girl he connects the song with -' Sweet Sue,' 'Cecelia,' 'Rose Marie.' With me, it's the other way around. A pretty girl makes me think of a song, like the first pretty girl in the fashion makes me think of the burr and a touch of heather in 'Roamin' In the Gloamin'."

Another Frolic. Not long ago Vincent decided to hold concerts Mondays from to 2 p.m. in the grill. No dancing, no vocals, but music to represent the tastes of the entire country, hillbilly to classical, old-time and modern. An innovation that is delighting the lunch crowd on this day, and no tax, either.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays the customers howl as they join in the game of "Shake the Maracas." The contest starts with a brief interview or chat with the band leader. The contestant then sings or dances his or her specialty and concludes by shaking the maracas to the rumba tempo of the band. Vincent Lopez has long taft hotelbeen a student of numerology and has authored two interesting books, "What's Ahead" and "Musical Horoscope." His next volume, "My Key to Life or What I Learned in a Monastery," is scheduled for publication in December. He uses this special knowledge of numerology for a feature he calls Forecasting Time." Customers fill out cards with the month and date of birth, and Mr. Lopez sometimes answers as many as 50 of them In 10 minutes. For what he calls "themorization," he takes the letters of a name related to numerals and puts them together to find the musical melody that best reacts to the name.

Radio interviews.

During the week Vincent has 11 radio wires and during these broadcasts interviews customers at ringside. At least 45 percent of the customers come from the metropolitan area. The strongest out-of-town -play is from the South, particularly the Carolinas.

Various publicity photos of piano maestro Lopez. Above, with visitor Joan Crawford, and below, a contestant in "Shake the Maracas." I'm not certain if Mr. Dana and Mac the beagle really cartooncommandeered Mr. Lopez's piano that day, but if they did, it must have looked something like this Bill Pause cartoon.

Today, The Hotel Taft is now the very exclusive Michelangelo Hotel. This is a big chain in Italy. These exclusive hotels are in every famed Italian city but the only one that is not in Italy is the New York Michelangelo (in the Italian spelling and pronounced "mee-shel-angelo). The entrance is now at 152 West 51 Street. The new lobby is spectacular and designed by the top of the line decorators

Andrews Sisters - Latin Quarter 1957
Desi Arnaz - w/Diosa Costello 1948
Count Basie - Lincoln 1943
Tony Bennett - Copacabana 1958
Milton Berle - Latin Quarter 1948
Joey Bishop - w/Andy Williams 1959
Ray Bolger - Wizard of Oz Scarecrow, Empire Room 1956
Cab Calloway - Greenwich Inn 1949
Diahann Carroll - Persian Room 1961
Betty Clooney - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Nat King Cole - Copacabana 1958
Perry Como - Versailles 1944
Copacabana - famous night club restaurant is reviewed 1953
Crosby Brothers - Latin Quarter 1961
Xavier Cugat - Waldorf Astoria 1951
Vic Damone - Riviera 1953
Billy Daniels - Copacabana 1952
Sammy Davis Jr. - Copacabana 1959
Phyllis Diller - w/Bobby Short 1958
Nancy Donovan - Copacabana 1952
Jimmy Durante - Copacabana 1951
Billy Eckstine - Copacabana 1951
Duke Ellington - Basin St. East 1961
Eddie Fisher - Empire Room 1959
Judy Garland -Town & Country 1958
Jackie Gleason - La Vie en Rose 1953
Benny Goodman - Empire Room 1956
Dolores Gray - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Buddy Hackett - Copacabana 1956
Connie Haines - Terrace Room 1951
Dick Haymes - Versailles 1956
Horace Heidt - 30th Anniversary 1954
Florence Henderson w/Bill Hayes 1958
Hildegarde - Pierre 1953
Celeste Holm - Plaza 1958
Eddy Howard - Roosevelt 1955
Burl Ives w/Wally Cox - Persian Room
Lisa Kirk - Persion Room 1958
Frankie Laine - Latin Quarter 1955
Julius La Rosa - Romanian 1958
Peggy Lee - Copacabana 1958
Jerry Lewis - Town & Country 1957
Joe E. Lewis - Copacabana 1945
Ted Lewis - Latin Quarter 1953
Liberace - Persian Room 1947
Guy Lombardo - Roosevelt 1957
Vincent Lopez - Grill Room 1954
Tony Martin - Riviera 1953
Martin and Lewis - Copacabana 1950
Ray McKinley - Glenn Miller Band 1957
Mills Brothers - Latin Quarter 1956
Vaughn Monroe - Astor 1955
Constance Moore - St. Regis 1958
Johnnie Ray - Copacabana 1953
Rowan & Martin - Latin Quarter 1961
Della Reese - Copacabana 1961
Sugar Ray Robinson - French Casino
Dorothy Shay - St. Regis 1961
Frank Sinatra - Wedgewood 1943
Danny Thomas - Copacabana 1949
Sophie Tucker - Latin Quarter 1950
Mae West - Latin Quarter 1956
Julie Wilson - Persian Room 1954
Dean Martin - thoughts on Mr. Sauve
Peter Lawford - retrospective
Rise & Fall of the big bands
K Baggelaar- Copacabana author
Don Dellair - cabaret performer
Denny Farrell - big band disc jockey
Hal Turner - Performer/Conductor
B Zickafoose - played in WWII Europe
Bernie Bierman bio
Sammy Kaye - Roosevelt 1957
Dinah Shore - press release and autograph from the 50's
A Letter about a WWII song
Harbers & Dale - Dance Team
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