The “Queen of Las Vegas” swing, Keely Smith, is one of the last living legends of the great Rat Pack era of the 1950s and ‘60s. For nearly half a century, the Cherokee-Irish singer has thrilled audiences around the world, entertaining music fans with unequaled charm. Keely is perhaps best known for her partnership with Louis Prima, with whom she helped turn Las Vegas into an entertainment mecca for the rich, the famous and everyone in between.
Keely’s royal ascent began in Norfalk, Virginia, where she, aged just 11-years old, became a regular on a popular, Saturday morning children’s radio program, “Joe Brown’s Radio Gang.” By 16, she was singing professionally alongside local big bands, entertaining servicemen at local Army, Navy and Marine bases and, more importantly, getting a chance to experience the swing movement first-hand. However, a chance to audition for Louis Prima, one of the hottest musicians on the scene in a vibrant post-war America, changed everything.