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 1st, 2016

Another Summer Flies By and How Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Shaped Our Entertainment History

As another summer draws to a close – and we turn to a future of revitalization – many of us reminisce on how it once was in our beloved Catskill Mountains known to all as the Borscht Belt.  

Last week I looked through copies of Panorama and The Mountain News, and memories of our glory days were vividly etched in my mind.

The pages filled with pictures, articles, and advertisements pertaining to our famed hotels and the big named talent that preformed here brought smiles and sadness all at the same time.

It was a time when the Catskill Mountains was alive – and the joyful memories of our past will always live on.

Indeed, 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.

Who are Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp you might ask? They are the talent agents from Charles Rapp Enterprises that 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 just one night.

There was no Live Nation back then – But there was and still is Arnold and Howie – two entertainment professionals who know how to book talent at venues as huge as Bethel Woods to as intimate as a private dinner party.

Many of us 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, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis,  George Burns, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Pat Cooper, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Jerry Seinfeld, and Shirley Bassey to name just a few were all booked by Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp.

Yes, indeed – they were all here.

Arnold and Howie are still going strong in Sullivan County booking major talent at the Villa Roma and at many of our summer communities featuring such talent as Tribute to Billy Joel, Sal Richards, Bobby Collins, Lou Christie, The Bronx Wanderers, The Edwards Twins, Carol Woods, Vic Dibitetto, Tommy Mara and the Crests, Rita Rudner, Elayne Boosler, and Robert Klein.

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 and personalize all entertainment needs to make an event exciting and memorable.

Just ask Sullivan County named hotel operators Martin Passante and Paul Carlucci of the Villa Roma as well as the the Kutsher family, the Slutsky family, the Parker family, the Ehrlich family, and the Grossinger’s and Etess families about how the Charles Rapp Agency shaped the Catskill Mountains into an entertainment mecca by delivering for them great entertainment each and every day.  

I recently sat down with Arnold Graham who was featured in books, television shows, and documentaries 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.”

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

Graham, who still keeps an office in Sullivan County, now focuses a major portion of his growing business in Florida and New Jersey communities, 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 am very excited about the new casino resort destination being built, and I am certain that it will be the new turning-stone that we all want and need.”

“The Montreign Casino will join 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

6 comments to Another Summer Flies By and How Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Shaped Our Entertainment History

  • Jeannie Walla

    My late husband, Dennis Wolfberg, always looking forward to working for the Rapp Agency and heading up to the mountains. I remember a Labor Day weekend over 20 years ago when Dennis was at the Concord. Our three young boys – all wonderful men now – were there, dressed in red and white. Dennis’ mom and dad were snow birds, we spent many happy hours in the Kiamesha Lake.

  • Here, here! Talented guys in their own right, and two of the nicest humans to walk the planet. What a legacy Arnold and Howie! Beautiful article, Bill.


    My honor to have u guys as friends. Loved the Catskills.
    Remember Kole and Parham? My favorite singing duo.

  • Susan Mandell Lerner

    So many wonderful memories thanks to the Reikens (Ryke Inn) at Kiamesha Lake!

  • Bruce Mann

    I was a 15 year old piano player in 1966. My brother was a sax player and we auditioned for Arnold Graham and his father Sam for a summer gig in the Caskills. This was many years before he joined with Charlie Rapp who at that time I believe only booked acts, not bands or musicians.

  • mort segal

    Funny how young you all are, and yes Arnold and Howie have done a great job, but I go back to the 1940′;s when I started to work for my father Jack Segal who never booked the largest hotels but did book by the 1950’s the largest quantity (121 on a Saturday night). I roomed with Buddy Hackett in 1946, friends with Joan Rivers, and numerous other comedians in addition to the stars of the Yiddish stage. It was a time that never will be repeated , and now in my senior years have found that I am a welcomed speaker about same for many of the Temples,and Condos where they relish in remembering what was.