Sir Michael Caine was married in Las Vegas 40 years ago at Little Chapel on the Green across the Strip from Circus Circus.
Caine and his new bride, Shakira, gazed at the walls and were impressed by all the famous people who had been married at the little chapel. Then Caine cracked, “You know, all of these people are divorced now.”
On Friday afternoon, Caine passed Circus Circus on his way to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. He looked to the east, and …
“The chapel is gone now,” he said, “but the marriage survived.”
Caine is always conscious of the power of love. This is true whether he is celebrating his 40-year marriage to Shakira, his deep friendship with Quincy Jones or the power of love shared by the super-famous artists who appeared at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night for this year’s Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” charity gala.
The night honored the twin 80th birthdays of Caine and Jones, who were born within minutes but on different continents (Caine in London, Jones in Chicago) and raised money for the Ruvo Center. It was the 17th such gala, started in 1994 by Cleveland Clinic founder Larry Ruvo at Spago at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Over the years, the money raised for the construction and operation of the Ruvo Center to fight degenerative brain disorders has exceeded $100 million.
The total take from this year’s show has not been announced, but donations are still being accepted by texting MEMORY at 80888. A 2-hour version of the show will be rebroadcast next Saturday on Cox Cable Channel 14 (Vegas TV) at 8 p.m.
The approximately 1,600 guests in attendance paid, at minimum, $1,500 per seat to attend the gala. The baseline for the live take was about $2.4 million, and the total amount raised will be much higher when the final figures are tabulated. In years past, the one-night total has eclipsed $20 million.
As is customary, the Grand Garden Arena was lavishly appointed for one of the year’s biggest events in Vegas. Eight big screens beamed the activity onstage to the audience, and the performers were flanked by two long and winding staircases meeting at either side of the stage. A giant, red-trimmed “Power of Love” logo, showing images of the night's honorees, hung in the middle.
A dozen globes glowing with strobes were hooked to the ceiling as video highlights of the careers of both men played as guests dined. Vintage footage of The Rat Pack (Jones famously recorded with Frank Sinatra) and classic Michael Jackson videos were unearthed as secondary entertainment.
Naturally, clips of Caine’s greatest movies (“Alfie,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “The Cider House Rules” and “The Italian Job” among them) and of Jones working with the superstar lineup for the “We Are the World” recording session also were beamed to the crowd.
The live performances were a happy mix-and-match of superstars, capped by Stevie Wonder singing “Happy Birthday” to both legends and leading a show-closing “We Are the World.” One giant star, Barbra Streisand, was not in the house, though she was on early lists of those expected to appear.
Nonetheless, it was a grand night. A highlight reel, in writing, of the program:
• Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation” on NBC introduced Bono and his medley of “Under My Skin” and “Fly Me to the Moon” by saying Jones and Sinatra teamed on “the greatest album ever made, with apologies to Peter Frampton, who is probably here. Everyone is.” She was referring to “Sinatra at the Sands,” recorded by Sinatra and The Count Basie Orchestra and produced by Jones.
Then Bono appeared, looking very cool in lightly shaded glasses and a close-cropped haircut. Midway through “Under My Skin,” he called out, “Dino! Get me a bourbon!”
• Jennifer Hudson was a burst of color in a yellow dress while powering out “Somewhere,” a favorite of Jones. That led to a few minutes of standup from comic actor Chris Tucker (riding high from his role in “Silver Linings Playbook.”) He called out, “Quincy says, “Always live every day like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right.”
Tucker also performed a credible impression of Jackson singing “Human Nature” and an impression of Sinatra that was somewhat less effective. Up next was an all-star tribute to Jackson led by Snoop Lion (the onetime Snoop Dogg), Jordin Sparks, Jason Derulo and Siedah Garrett. The band, led by Greg Phillinganes (who recorded and toured with Jackson, among many superstar artists), then rolled out a medley of Jackson hits, “Man in the Mirror” being the highlight.
• Arsenio Hall, who is returning to late-night television in September with a syndicated talk show, noted accurately, “Larry has some rich-ass friends. Give y’all.” He spoke of Caine’s lofty title by saying, “You don’t say “sir” before Adam Levine, right?”
Hall then summoned the highly anticipated jazz jam featuring Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, Paulinho Da Costa, Marcus Miller, Tom Scott and Vinnie Colaiuta that organizers were so excited to see. “Walking in Space” and “Killer Joe” were the songs unleashed, and the musicianship onstage for this segment was stunning.
• Austin returned, with a head-shaven James Ingram, for “How Do You Keep the Music Playing,” leaving the introduction of Caine to star chef Gordon Ramsay. “I have no trouble understanding his cockney accent,” a soft-spoken and clearly humbled Ramsay said. He unspooled Caine’s great film career and noted his Oscar-winning performances in “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “The Cider House Rules,” calling Caine “a true legend.”
Of course, that intro led to Chaka Khan. The R&B star, who turned 60 in March, performed the title song from “Alfie.” Khan has been in show business for 40 years and has lost just about nothing.
• In her presentation of Jones, Whoopi Goldberg asked, “Has anybody been cooler any longer than Quincy Jones? How about Michael Caine?”
Wonder then arrived, backed by many of the previous performers and a giant, multitiered cake, for “Happy Birthday.”
Jones read a lengthy speech from the TelePrompTer facing the stage while Caine asked, “Wait! Where’s my name? I don’t see it on there. Am I taking the night off? Oh! There, it says, ‘Ad lib!’ So I will ad lib.”
Then he said, “We are being treated like big stars, like legends, but the real stars are at the hospital. They are the reason we’re here, to fight disease. … All of this came together because of Larry, who is the most extraordinary person.”
“Amen,” said Jones.
The final star appearance was by Will.I.Am of The Black Eyed Peas, who started in with “We Are the World,” and, at the end, you had to remember something Ruvo said at the top of the show.
“How about Las Vegas?” he asked. “Isn’t it great?”
Oh yeah. And after yet another soaring “Power of Love” event, you could hardly argue.