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 30th, 2019

Legends Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Still Going Strong – Can Sullivan County Say The Same?

As the summer of 2019 draws to a close – The big hoopla over the lackluster 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is over – Resorts World Catskills is no longer a public company and its still losing millions upon millions of dollars –the new magnificent Y01 Yoga/Meditation Center in Monticello is for sale – The Monticello Raceway Racino is closed – And our new waterpark is struggling to find its niche. Yet – our legislators want to build a $4.5 million Visitor’s Center because that is what their vendor the Sullivan County Visitor’s Center wants. What is wrong with this picture?

We all must admit that we are far from being the resort capital we once were.

As we continually 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, the announced Wolf’s Lodge Water Park, and a new Resort’s World Racino in Harriman.

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 with mostly the same entertainmers, 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 shows.

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. 

 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.”

“Hopefully 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. I want to thank all the entertainers and Musicians for helping us making this Season a busy one for us.”

Graham and Rapp have expanded their agency in Florida where they book big named entertainment in famed venues.

Graham is now booking for the 2020 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 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 Legends Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp Still Going Strong – Can Sullivan County Say The Same?

  • Mort Segal

    Glad I was part of the era that no longer exists. Worked as a busboy in the early 40’s and then worked with my dad Jack Segal in providing entertainment for the hotels. 121 shows on a Saturday night. Way before Arnold and Howie who are friends and deserve all the credit for what they have done since. While the hotels and the crowds are gone I travel back to look st the blades of grass still there as memory of what was. Thanks for a great article