Burt Bonaldi Memories
One of the brightest stars in the entertainment firmament of Reno went dark on May 9 when Burt Bonaldi expired.
Burt’s biggest claim to fame came during the latter half of the twentieth century when he and his partner, Ronnie Gaylord, performed as a top lounge act entitled “The Gaylords”. They had a number of top hits such as “The Little Shoemaker”, “Alitalia Airlines” and a number of serious ballads featuring the mellifluous voice of Ronnie.
I first saw The Gaylords performing in the tiny lounge of the Holiday Hotel. They were a gregarious, musical and extremely entertaining lounge act. Over the years, they performed in all sorts of venues. After Ronnie’s untimely death, Burt continued appearing well into his eighties. I got to know him best at the monthly meetings of the G.O.D. (Good Old Days) Club where he sang the National Anthem and told a number of ribald jokes.
The performance ends and the curtain descends.
Although I had only a nodding acquaintance with Burt for some forty years, I got to know him better when I prevailed upon him to be Master of Ceremonies for a Bill Raggio roast in 2002. The event was staged as a fundraiser for the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University. A mutual friend, Lee DeLauer, set up the initial meeting at the old Sullivan’s Bar. Burt agreed to perform the chore for a couple of dinner tickets for his family.
From that time on, I saw Burt mostly at the G.O.D. Club and frequent luncheons in the Prospector’s Club rooms along with his longtime pianist, Don Rea, his son Louis and former Harrah’s Entertainment Director Holmes Hendrickson.