Published: November 19, 2013
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Hall of Fame TRIBUTE TO A LIVING LEGEND...
FLUFF LECOQUE

Meet SBF's first showbiz icon that we are honoured to host in this brand new column.
Celebrating the career of a strong-willed, determined and talented woman, who through her tenacious personality, perseverance and self-believing, managed to successfully establish herself in the world of showbusiness, becoming a living legend in the temple of entertainment, Las Vegas.

Retrace along with us her dazzling life and multi-decennial career, that brightly shows how willpower, backed by a great talent, is the winning recipe to achieve your dreams! We hope that this article will become a page to treasure not only for those whose paths have crossed with Fluff, but also for the ones who wished to have worked with her and even for the few who might not know about her.
May the symbol she represents be an inspiration to many generations to come...

Ladies and Gentlemen! Please welcome into SBF's Hall of Fame a truly amazing woman, Fluff LeCoque!



Fluff LeCoque

Quote ...Bally's, Las Vegas is eternally grateful to Fluff and her incomparable contributions to Jubilee!, as well as the entertainment landscape of Las Vegas. The show wouldn't be what it is today without her unending leadership and dedication...

The legendary Ffolliott LeCoque, better known as Fluff, was born in 1923, in Butte, Montana, where her father worked in copper mines and played baseball in the summer. The breathtaking beauty of young Fluff at the dawn of her career during her acting years, under the name of Ffolliott Charlton When she was five her family moved to Seattle, where she studied ballet, jazz and tap dancing and her first chance to step into the limelight was dancing during the seventh-inning stretch at a local ball game. Her mother used to play the piano for her and she would perform for various functions. Later she went to the University of Washington, where she studied to be an actress and ran her own dancing school at the same time. She was the protégé of Caird Leslie, partner to Anna Pavlova and as well as her drama studies, she trained in all genres of dance.

Fluff's dream was for Hollywood and the post-WWII silver screen. Las Vegas, Thunderbird Hotel
Fluff wearing the famous first bikini in Las Vegas and posing as Miss Thunderbird
1951 During her stay there she planned to use her dancing skills to make a living, while trying to get a job in the movies. However, even though Fluff had movie-star good looks, she was a little too short and too muscular to make it as an actress and her movie career didn't last long. She was up for the part of Jane in the new Tarzan movie series, starring Lex Barker. The casting director, after looking at her photo, told her to stand up and turn around and said: "I see you're a dancer... Well, how would you like to teach me how to dance?", from which she replied: "I think you should try out for the part of the gorilla" and then walked out. She didn't get the part!...

A 1950's cheesecake photo of Fluff as a pin-up girl Fluff's first professional dancing job was in a nightclub in Hollywood, a place where all the movie stars would go. Her first Las Vegas appearance was in 1947 at the long-gone Last Frontier Hotel. She had a six-week contract, making $35 a week, as a singer with the Chuck Gould Orchestra, filling in for Liberace between his sets. At that time, shows only lasted a few weeks, so she went back and forth a lot between Las Vegas and Hollywood.

In 1948, Fluff returned to Las Vegas to work as a dancer at the newly opened Thunderbird Hotel. Whist there, she was crowned Miss Thunderbird and appeared in several advertisements for the hotel. Most likely she was the first person to wear a bikini in Las Vegas whilst modelling on the hotel diving board.

Las Vegas, Desert Inn
Showroom production number.
Fluff (center front) with cast and the Carleton Hayes Orchestra
1953 Fluff's next career choice took her to Europe where for 18 months she was a principal dancer in several shows. On one night during a show in Paris, the producer Donn Arden was in the audience.
Quote ...I've always known who I am and what I am. I never thought I was beautiful, but I'm vain. How do you describe that?...
However it was a while before they met. After she returned from Europe she went to his office in New York to audition for the Arden-Fletcher Dancers (Donn Arden-Ron Fletcher). She still didn't meet Mr. Arden, but was hired for his show in Cincinnati. Around that time the Desert Inn in Las Vegas was putting in a new stage and they wanted Donn Arden there. Donn's office asked Fluff if she would go. She finally met Donn in 1951 at the Desert Inn. In those days, most of the shows didn't have names. Basically, they were floor shows in a nightclub setting. They were called "floor shows" because, after dinner and prior to the performance, the audience could dance to live music from a full orchestra on the sunken floors, which would rise up again for the show to begin. There were never any sets or scenery. This marked the beginning of her very long working relationship with Donn Arden.

Paris
...and they finally met!
Fluff (far right) and Donn Arden (2nd left) with René Fraday, Margaret Kelly and Pierre-Louis Guérin watching rehearsal
1950s Hollywood, Moulin Rouge
Voici! Paris!
Ffolliott 'Fluff' Charlton
1953 Through Donn, Fluff's career continued as the principal dancer and company manager for 10 years at Frank Sennes' famous Moulin Rouge in Hollywood, California. At the time, it was the biggest nightclub, restaurant and showroom in America and produced lavish production shows, directed by Donn Arden. More than $100 million were spent on staging the various productions and it was estimated that 50 million people saw the shows.

Quote ...It's a very difficult thing for a performer to describe what it's like to perform. It's not so much working for the applause, as being able to get away from yourself and become something else...
In 1966, when Fluff was 43, she hung up her dancing shoes, along with giving up her role as Company Manager at the Desert Inn and retired. She took up painting, did some publicity and became a writer for the Las Vegas Art Museum. However, her retirement didn't last long, as in 1973 Donn Arden asked her to manage his new show in Las Vegas called Hallelujah Hollywood, at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Hallelujah Hollywood was a 3 million-dollar tribute to classic MGM Hollywood musicals with Margaret "Miss Bluebell" Kelly's Hollywood, Moulin Rouge
Ffolliott 'Fluff' Charlton
1956 famous Bluebell Girls. It had a flamboyant finale, which was a tribute to the Ziegfeld Follies and was staged in the Ziegfeld Theatre in the hotel. At that time, it had the largest stage and the largest backstage area in the world. Hallelujah Hollywood had its final curtain call in 1980 and Donn Arden's new show Jubilee!, with Fluff as Company Manager, was due to open 3 weeks later. During this time however, a tragic fire happened in the hotel and the opening was delayed until July 1981, which coincided with the reopening of the hotel. Las Vegas, Bally's
Jubilee!
Fluff with the Bally's dancers
2004 In 1986 the MGM Grand Hotel was sold to Bally's, but Jubilee! still continues to delight audiences making it the longest running show in Las Vegas history. In her role as Company Manager, Fluff, along with her assistant Diane Palm and prior Michael MacKenzie Pratt, had to deal with the constant changes in every show due to sickness, accidents, emergencies, technical problems, personality conflicts, which are all continuous challenges. As well as holding auditions for hopeful dancers and singers and re-auditioning the cast every six months, to keep their job.
Quote ...I'm a bad loser. I'm determined to have my own way. I'm independent and difficult to handle...


Fluff stoically continued to be Company Manager until she retired in April 2012. She has achieved the remarkable accomplishment of holding her position as Company Manager for almost 4 continuous decades, until she retired in April 2012, making it a truly amazing record, hard to be ever equalled or beaten. Diane Palm has now taken over her role. On her retirement, a PR spokesperson for the hotel said: "Bally's Las Vegas is eternally grateful to Fluff and her incomparable contributions to Jubilee!, as well as the entertainment landscape of Las Vegas. The show wouldn't be what it is today without her unending leadership and dedication." One of her proudest moments was when a bronze plaque inscribed with her name was placed at the center edge of the stage, in tribute to her. There is also a brick paver bearing her name in the courtyard of the recently restored Penthouse Theatre in the round on the University of Washington campus.

Ffolliott 'Fluff' LeCoque with Joe Pesci in a dramatic scene from the film 'Casino'
1995 Another one of her claims to fame Fluff with actor Jimmy Weiss is that she appeared in the movie Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert de Niro and Sharon Stone, where Fluff played the character Anna Scott, who was shot in the head by Joe Pesci. In the course of her long and distinguished career, Fluff has worked with a multitude of stars, including Danny Kaye, Maurice Chevalier, Helen Traubel, Katherine Grayson, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Sammy Davis Jr., Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante and Red Skelton to name but a few. She was also in the film Fresh from Paris (1955), starring Forrest Tucker, which was filmed at the Moulin Rouge and in Paris Follies of 1956, starring Forrest Tucker, Margaret Whiting and Dick Wesson, choreographed by Donn Arden.


Along the way, she's worked her way through five husbands too! In the past when she was asked what it was like to be a performer she replied: "It's a very difficult thing for a performer to describe what it's like to perform. Las Vegas, Bally's
Fluff posing in front of the Jubilee Theatre It's not so much working for the applause, as being able to get away from yourself and become something else. You're able to give of your ability to feel dance and you have to love to be able to give that expression of the music and the movement to the audience. You know when you go to see a show, you feel the electricity coming from the performer, or you feel nothing".
Quote ...You know when you go to see a show, you feel the electricity coming from the performer, or you feel nothing...


And her answer to: "Is it a hard life, being in show business?""I've been very lucky, very lucky, to have been able to bridge the gap from performer to the other side of the fence. Usually, your life is like a gypsy's life. You never know where your next paycheck is going to come from sometimes".

A few years ago when asked to describe herself she said: "I'm a bad loser. I'm determined to have my own way. I've always known who I am and what I am. I'm independent and difficult to handle. I like beautiful things. I love gardens. I love flowers. I like the outdoors. I used to be a pretty good athlete. I like people, but I don't like to be around a bunch of people. I like small gatherings. I never thought I was beautiful, but I'm vain. How do you describe that?"

Fluff’s advice to everyone is: "KEEP DANCIN'!!!".


On behalf of ShowBiz Friends, we would like to thank Ffolliott "Fluff" LeCoque for the amazing opportunity she has given to thousands of dancers and singers through the decades. She truly is the "Grande Dame of Entertainment" and we wish her a long and happy retirement!

K E E P   D A N C I N' ! ! !


N.B. If you enjoyed reading this Tribute Article and moreso if you admire Fluff for all she has achieved in her showbiz career...
Please make her proud and click on the 'Like' button and/or 'Share' this article and/or leave a 'Comment'.
...and tell your friends to do the same!!! Thank you!

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