“The Lovable Lush” Robot
It appears that there exists (or existed) at the MGM Grand in Vegas an automaton of TV’s “Lovable Lush” comedian and actor Foster Brooks! My buddy Jack Pendarvis has found some photos of the drunken robot he so fondly remembers. It’s not mentioned on his Wikipedia page, but I distinctly remember seeing him in tiny ads in the back of magazines in the 70’s and 80’s as a spokesperson for some impotency solution. Oh, wait, here it is:
Vacuum Therapy?!? Yikes!
Here’s another pic of the robot from Jack:
I was about to write something about how incredibly un-pc his act would be now (for more reasons than just his membership in Dean Martin’s “Alcoholics Unanimous”), then I remembered Neal Hamburger. Still, that’s all part of the charm!
Update: It just occurred to me that whoever owns the Foster Brooks robot needs to hook up for a guest spot with The Rockafire Explosion!! If you’ve never seen this, a genius named Chris Thrash from Alabama acquired a full animatronic band from the now defunct ShowBiz Pizza chain. And he hacked it. In fact he hacks it all the time making it perform new radio hits with incredible precision. Witness them performing “Love in This Club” and just wait for Jeezy’s verse! Holy. Crap! Imagine a drunk solo from Brooks!
More good news!! A documentary is in the works about Thrash and the history of Rockafire Explostion!!
I never look at my blog stats, but I did for some reason the other day and noticed that on the 8th I got a record 1,800+ hits – on the this post. The hits all came from www.lasvegasadvisor.com and their question of the day. I tried to go back and find the question, but to see it you have to pay $50 annually. Soooo….I did some hacking and found a cache of the question and answer that say:
Whatever happened to the animatronic Foster Brooks that was placed in the MGM Grand when it first opened in 1994? It was described as costing over $150,000, and took over 825 man-hours to build.
It changed its name to “Oscar Goodman” and ran for mayor of Las Vegas. But seriously, folks …
Foster Brooks (1912-2001), a k a the “Lovable Lush,” was a comedian whose humor wouldn’t pass muster nowadays. He specialized in a “drunk act” and his sozzled manner earned him many a guest spot on late-night television and the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. He even recorded, believe it or not, an album of song interpretations. Its jacket featured a photograph of the marquee of the old Desert Inn.
Back in 1994, Brooks’ humor was still considered sufficiently amusing that somebody at the then-new MGM Grand had the bizarre idea of garnishing the Betty Boop Bar with a robotic replica of Foster Brooks. An anonymous recollection, posted on the Internet on Sept. 26, 2005, described the spectacle as follows: “Every 5 minutes it would ‘Awake,’ mumble and slur, and wave its arms, then pass out again at the bar.”
The “Black Century” blog even managed to unearth photos of this strange creation, taken by Jack Pendarvis. The latter mused, back on July 8, 2008, on his own blog: “The robot clanked its mouth up and down in a lackadaisical fashion, hardly bothering to match up with the scratchy phonograph recording of a live Foster Brooks show [20 minutes of material, in all]. The robot was sitting at a little table, as if enjoying an aperitif in a cafe. So the laugh track seemed out of place. So did the robot, I guess.”
Even by Vegas standards, the Foster Brooks android ranked high on the eccentricity meter, to the point that it earned its own page in Mike Weatherford’s Cult Vegas. He records the actual Brooks’ reaction to his replicant as, “I look like an old man, which is what I am. It’s better than I’ll look like when I’m dead, I guess.” In a delicious irony, Weatherford adds that real-life inebriates would, in their alcohol-befogged state, mistake the Brooks robot for a real live person.
As weird as the episode sounds in retrospect, it may have been all of piece with inauspicious 1993 rollout of the MGM Grand that confronted Las Vegans with what Weatherford describes as, “goofy cartoon mascots, giant plastic French fries, and creepy Wizard of Oz wax figures.” All of those –- along with the Brooks robot and his Betty Boop Bar hangout — were evicted in a 1996-97 makeover, preceded out the door by the original CEO, Larry J. Woolf. (The latter would be exiled from the Strip for over a decade, eventually making a comeback at the Sahara.)
One Internet rumor had it that the animatronic Brooks’ demise came at the fists of Mike Tyson. Supposedly MGM’s in-house boxer was upset over something or other and took it out on the robotic Mr. Brooks. Alas, this legend is entirely more entertaining than true. According to NV Energy executive Jack Leone, who worked at MGM Grand from 1995 until his departure for Mandalay Bay in 1998, the android was a victim of old age. “It was in such bad shape, it was just thrown out,” Leone tells LVA. “Nobody knows exactly where [it went].”
So if you’re out in the desert and stumble across an inebriated white-bearded robot, you’ll have just solved one of the ongoing mysteries of the Strip.
A) Screw this guy for charging for our info without informing or tracking back to us and…
B) Yay for finding out more about the robot and screwing him out of $50!
C) It’s gone? Forever? Waaaa!!!
UPDATE: Comments closed due to multiple spams linking to alleged kiddie porn on…The Food Network Canada’s forums??! Weird. 07/2011