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, 2017

Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Shaped Our Entertainment History

As the summer of 2017 draws to a close all eyes are on the new Resorts World Casino that will be open in a few short months. Despite the new future on the horizon many of us still reminisce on how it once was in our beloved Catskill Mountains known to all as the Borscht Belt. 

Yup – The Hills were alive with every major hotel serving borscht and every other Jewish delicacy. Besides all the food and food and food came great entertainment.

Every summer I look through copies of Panorama and The Mountain News, and memories of our glory days are 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. It always brings smiles and sadness in unison.  

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

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 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, much exhilaration, and even make headlines.  We look forward to several concerts in a season, when we had hundreds in just one night.

As Bethel Woods ends another spectacular season, we must remember 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 and appeared at our famed hotels.

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 Bobby Collins, Elayne Boosler, Sarge, Tom Cotter, Sal Richards, The Unexpected Boys, Dessert Highway, The Turnstiles, Mike Marino, Modi, Tribute to the Drifters, Shirley Alston Reeves of the Shirelles, Tribute to the Platters, Chris Monty, Karen Grainger, Free Pass, Basile, Rich Vos, Jimmy Failla, Patti Greco, Leesah Stiles, Lynn Starr, Joanna M Gass, Johnny Petillo, Nicolas King, Mike Burstyn, Jeff Norris, Jeff  “Fat Rat Bastard” Pirrami,  and Steven Scott to name a few.

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.

From Comedians, Music Groups, Singers, Bands, and Novelty Acts – Charles Rapp Enterprises has been our leading supplier of entertainment.

Just ask Sullivan County famed hotel operators Martin Passante and Paul Carlucci of the Villa Roma as well as the Kutsher family, the Slutsky family, the Parker family, Erlich 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 had a corporate office at the Concord for over thirty years.

Graham, who still maintains 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.”

“Resorts Word Catskills 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.

It would be nice if Resorts World Catskills looks to Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp and uses their services to book some of their great anticipated entertainment. Not all shows require Live Nation, and it would show that they are living up to their word in hiring local.

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

4 comments to Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Shaped Our Entertainment History

  • Mort Segal

    Great article about a great time in everyone’s life in the Catskills. My dad Jack Segal preceeded Arnold and Howie and started booking entertainment in 1944 with 6 hotels and building it up over the heyday years to having 121 shows on a Saturday night. Arnold and Howie have done a great job in continuing the entertainment business in the Catskills and bringing their talent even to Florida.

  • Arnold M Brockman

    Everything You’be said about Howie And Arnold is Absolutely True !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arnold M Brockman

  • Wendy Morton Warren

    My Dad, Harry Morton worked with Charlie Rapp booking many if the stand up comics if the day.

  • Bruce Shulman

    I was a bandleader at various hotels from 1966-72; mainly during the summers and a few holiday weekends. Jack Segal was one of the first agents who booked me into the Catskills. Also there was the infamous Aron Toder in those early years. Jack, Arnold Graham (who worked with his father Sam years before joining Rapp Enterprises) and Freddie Friedman were some of the true gentlemen in the business. Later on another “character,” Sam Maslin, also provided some jobs. Charlie Rapp was well known but I don’t think he ever booked musicians in those days, only the acts. Great times and great memories.