Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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September 3rd, 2015

Reminiscing on Summers Past

As another summer draws to a close many of us reminisce on how it once was in our beloved Borscht Belt.

By Labor Day weekend Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp would be exhausted and running on a pilot light. They would be busy putting the final touches to the hundreds of shows planned at our famous hotels, bungalow colonies, and seasonal communities.

Sadly, that was a time when the Catskill Mountains were alive.

Who are Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp you might ask? They are the talent agents from Charles Rapp Enterprises who booked the majority of the performers that turned the Catskill Mountains into the entertainment capital of the world.

Each year we wait with bated breath to find out who will be appearing at Bethel Woods, announcements are filled with drum rolls and much exhilaration. We now look forward to several concerts in a season, when we had hundreds in one night.

There was no Live Nation back then, there was and still is Arnold and Howard who know how to book and plan entertainment from as huge as a venue as Bethel Woods to as small as a private dinner party.
We quickly forget all the big names that appeared right here in Sullivan County.

I remember the thrill of driving up on the Quickway and getting excited by seeing all the billboards listing all the big named entertainers.

Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Donna Summer, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve and Edyie, Tom Jones, Ringo Starr, Bette Midler, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, George Burns, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Pat Cooper, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Jerry Seinfeld, and Shirley Bassey to name just a few.

Even Lisa Lampanelli, one of the hottest comedians out there today, worked the late shows at the Villa Roma just a few short years ago.

Yes indeed – they were all here.

When we think of what we had, we still wonder – what happened?

Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp are probably two of the nicest, caring, professional, and hardworking people one could ever meet. They truly love what they do.

I recently sat down with Graham who was featured in an upcoming movie on the Catskill Mountains to reminisce about our past, and talk about our future.

“Those were unbelievable days, everyone was having fun. Every entertainer wanted to be booked at a Catskill Mountain Resort. I remember driving up Ray Romano and John Stewart to play a late show at the Concord and how excited they were.”

Graham, who still keeps an office in Sullivan County, now focuses the bulk of his growing business in Florida, on corporate events, and private parties.

“We offer all types of entertainment at all price ranges. From comics, singers, bands, to novelty acts, we strive in making every function memorable and enjoyable.”

Graham admits his love is still the Catskill Mountains. “It’s very hard to let go of a place I love, and spent my entire life. It is very difficult to see what has happened,” he said with a crackle in his voice.

“I walk through Monticello, Liberty, Fallsburg, and I get a lump in my throat. I feel as if a bomb hit the area, and we left it. I pray that we get the two casinos right here in Sullivan County. We need something like resort destinations to revitalize our beautiful region.”

Charles Rapp Enterprises maintained a corporate office at the Concord for over thirty years.

“I hope and pray that the Casino and Entertainment complex being built in the Town of Thompson happens quickly and it joins Bethel Woods in rebuilding our beloved Catskill Mountains. We all have so many fond memories and stories to tell, but we can never go back.” Graham told me.

Indeed, as this summer season draws to a close, we all need to reflect on our cherished past, perhaps it can help us move forward and work towards an even brighter future.

Thank you Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp for all you have done for Sullivan County past and present. You are both very special to a lot of people.

Arnold Graham can be reached at Charles Rapp Enterprises at (212) 247-6646 or via email at to discuss all your entertainment needs.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post

1 comment to Reminiscing on Summers Past

  • Sophie

    Loved your article. The Catskills were close to my heart as well. I know Howie and Arnold for many years. I still keep in contact with several entertainers.