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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August 31st, 2018

Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp – Sullivan County Legends Still Going Strong

As the summer of 2018 draws to a close we all must admit that we are far from being the resort capital we once were despite the fact that we have a new resort casino, a new holistic resort, Bethel Woods, a waterpark in development, and a scaled down version of Resort World’s proposed Entertainment City.

As we struggle to get our head above water and listen to excuses that tourism might be down because of the weather or up because of the new casino. The bottom line is that Orange County is positioning itself to be the leader in tourism dollars in the Hudson Valley with Legoland and the newly announced Wolf’s Lodge Water Park.

Its hard to reach Labor Day weekend in Sullivan County and not reminisce on how it once was in our beloved Catskill Mountains known to all as the Borscht Belt. 

The Hills were once alive with every major hotel serving borscht and every other Jewish delicacy. Along with all the excellent culinary food came world renowned entertainment at hundreds of resort hotels and bungalow colonies.

I always reminisce by driving around Sullivan County and looking through back copies of Panorama and The Mountain News.  The memories of our glory days are vividly etched in so many of our minds.

The pages filled with pictures, articles, and advertisements pertaining to our 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.

The Concord, Brown’s, Pines, Kutsher’s, Stevensville, and hundreds of others are gone. This summer – even the tall Grossinger’s buildings that were part of the Route 17 and Liberty’s landscape were taken down and is now gone forever.

Memories still live on for many of us – That just can’t be taken away.

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 while 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 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 Labor Day weekend alone such talent as Clint Holmes, Emil Stucchio and the Classics, Joey Arminio and Family, The fabulous Unexpected Boys, Modi, Vinnie Talarico, Johnny Petillo, Chris Monty, Steven Scott, Joanna M Gass, Lumiri Tubo, Rob Falcone, Stephen Christopher, Leesah Stiles and her band, and Tom Durnin.

It is unfortunate that Resorts World does not seem to understand how entertainment is part of the Catskills Mountains and how resourceful Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp can be to them in booking live private entertainment events that will draw people to the facility.

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.

“I want to thank the people of Sullivan County for their loyalty and Support of Charles Rapp Enterprises over the years, and thank all the entertainers and Musicians for helping us making this Season a busy one for us. What other talent agency can have as many as 12 shows in the Catskills in 2018?”

Graham said he is now representing the Boca Lago Country Club in Boca Raton Florida. And will be starting the entertainment venue with The Bronx Wanderers on New Year’s Eve.

In Florida, Arnold and Howie partnered with Arie Kadurie and Alison Chaplin and are kown as NYKRapp. 

“Some of our 2019 Tours in Florida include, The Tony Orlando Show, The Bronx Wanderers, Melissa Manchester, Du Du Fisher, Yakov Smirnoff, Welcome Back Mr Kotter Gabe Kaplan, Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noon, Shirley Alston Reeves original lead singer of The Shirelles, Adbacadabra, Beginnings ultimate Chicago Tribute, Tribute to the Drifters, Sal Richards, Dick Capri, Freddie Roman, Sarge, Richie Byrne, Chris Monty,  Uptown, Avi Hoffman, plus all your favorite Entertainers You have come to love.

Graham is now booking for the 2019 summer season in the Catskills.

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. And, belated Happy Birthday to Shelia Graham.

Arnold Graham can be reached at Charles Rapp Enterprises at (212) 247-6646, Howard Rapp (561) 883-7760 or via email at UncleArnold3956@aol.com 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 Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp – Sullivan County Legends Still Going Strong

  • Mort segal

    Always live your column and yes you cannot go back to what was!! With my dad Jack Segal we booked 121 shows on z Saturday night in the early 1950’s having started with 6 hotels in 1944. We never booked the largest hotels but booked the largest quantity of hotels and at our height had 150 performers working on Saturday night. It was my dad who started Buddy Hackett, Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers. Those days are gone and I don’t see them coming back in the firm
    That we had