I got an email from a gentleman on the West Coast of the U.S. who recounted an interesting tale about a publicity stunt gone wrong. Vince Angelo, a well known off strip Las Vegas publicist was hired by the great Cecil Lester and his speciality owl act.
The troupe of owls, who could howl famous tunes on demand, had gained great acclaim and had come to the attention of those in Sammy Davis Junior’s inner sanctum, who decided to book the act as a warm up for a forthcoming Davis Junior show. Determined that this would be his big break, Lester made sure he got a publicist on board.
Vince Angelo arranged for the Las Vegas press to attend the show and word was out that this would be one of the most spectacular bird speciality shows ever seen.
But the birds did not survive the journey to Las Vegas and were found dead on arrival by Cecil who was absolutely horrified and distraught. The show was obviously cancelled, and Lester was not seen for some years.
My correspondent told me that Lester was later found trying to resurrect his act without owls but with a tap dancing chicken instead. So traumatised was his by the loss of his owls and the lack of success with the chicken, he turned to drink and later died in obscurity in a motel room in Touscon Arizona.