The Top Hat, Alice, notes and words

Mike Drakich had a soft spot for Vic Damone at the old Top Hat Supper Club.
The late impresario loved the old crooners and comedians, and Damone returned the favor by appearing at the Top Hat several times late in his career. Damone passed away earlier this week at age 89.
The Top Hat was one of the few true supper clubs to survive in an era when rock concerts and dance clubs were destroying the old nightclub scene.
The Top Hat itself had seen better days in the ’80s and ’90s when the likes of Damone, Frank Gorshin and Rich Little paid regular visits. The Top Hat is but a dim memory now, torn down to make way for a burger joint.
One of things that endeared Drakich to Damone was his culinary talent. He would take over the kitchen to prepare traditional Italian meals. Not many were allowed access to the kitchen, where Drakich’s wife, Mary, and youngest son, Sam, ruled the roost.
One performer, however, was persona non grata — Bette Midler. She criticized the cooking in an interview once, and claimed the kitchen wasn’t clean. Drakich, a scrupulous perfectionist, took issue with the remarks and never forgave Midler. And the proof is in the pudding, so to speak: the Top Hat remained a fixture in Windsor’s nightlife for years to come.


Lotsa shock, no sock

Alice Cooper returns to Caesars Windsor Colosseum on March 1, but it’s a safe bet he won’t have his golf clubs — the shock rocker is a near-scratch golfer. It’ll be a little too early to hit the links in this area.


WSO chimes in

It’s a busy week over at the Capitol’s Pentastar Theatre, 121 University Ave. W.

Maestro Robert Franz will unfold the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 season on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

The next night, Friday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m., it’s the annual Side-by-side concert with the WSO Youth Orchestra and members of the symphony. Tickets are just $10 for adults, $5 for students.

Then, on Feb. 24 and 25, it’s the next Pops series concerts, titled Wild, Wild West, featuring the Magnificent Seven music and show tunes from Western-themed musicals. Tickets are $14-$64 at


Mandal’s triumph

Veronique Perrier Mandal’s new book, Getting Off: A Criminal Lawyer’s Road to Redemption, is the strange but true saga of Don Tait, the former Windsor lawyer who fought personal demons and lived to tell his story.

I covered many trials that featured Tait as defence lawyer and, despite his reputation as a drinker and womanizer, he seldom let it affect his courtroom performances. In his day, Tait was among the top criminal lawyers in the province.

While at The Windsor Star, Mandal won awards for her coverage of Tait’s subsequent fall from grace and his even more remarkable recovery.

She will read passages from the book and answer questions at the next A Taste of Literature event, hosted by Pamela Goldstein, at The Twisted Apron Restaurant, 1833 Wyandotte St. E., on Feb. 26. For more information. call 519-730-0315.