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Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire: 40 Years Later

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Sunday, May 28 at 7:00 pm
Monday, May 29 at 1:00 pm

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Last 29 minutes including interviews with John Beatsch, Gerry Wolter, Norm Clarke, Nick Clooney, and Jim Delaney.
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This ad was printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday, May 28, 1977, the morning of the fire.

Sunday, May 28 marks the 40th anniversary of the devastating fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club. Produced by Lee Hay and host John Kiesewetter, the special takes a look at the tragic event and its aftermath through conversations with people who were there, including former waiter Wayne Dammert whose story was told in the book, Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire written by Ron Elliott.

Here's a link to John Kiesewetter's blog about this special, too.

Posted below are the detailed interviews of those you'll hear on the completed special:

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Credit John Kiesewetter
Kay Barksdale on March 2, 2017 in the WVXU studio

Kay Barksdale, secretary for Mort Watters, founder of WCPO-TV, and she was the first black woman hired at Channel 9, WCPO-TV, as an employee.  The night of the fire she was a vocalist and guest with the Greater Cincinnati Choral Union who were dining in the Crystal Room on the second floor.

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Kay Barksdale interview, part 1, recorded March 28, 2017
kay_barksdale._part_2._website.mp3
Kay Barksdale interview, part 2, recorded March 28, 2017

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John Beatsch, Southgate Volunteer Fire Department chief

John Beatsch, volunteer firefighter with the Southgate Fire Department the night of the fire who's now Southgate's Volunteer Fire Chief.

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John Beatsch interview recorded April 17, 2017

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Cincinnati-based Associated Press sportswriter Norm Clarke (left) listens to Johnny Bench's comments to NBC's Tony Kubek after the Cincinnati Reds swept the New York Yankees in the 1976 World Series.

Norm Clarke, Associated Press reporter on-site the night of the fire and now a columnist in Las Vegas.

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Norm Clarke interview recorded April 11 and May 2, 2017

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Credit WKRC-TV
Nick Clooney at the Channel 12 news desk

Nick Clooney, anchor at WKRC-TV Channel 12 News and on-site reporter the night of the fire.

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Nick Clooney interview recorded April 11, 2017

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Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire book written by Ron Elliott and Wayne Dammert

Wayne Dammert, former waiter at the Beverly Hills Supper Club, who helped rescue many people during the fire, and also co-wrote the book, "Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire," with Ron Elliott.

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Wayne Dammert interview, part 1, recorded March 27, 2017
wayne_dammert._part_2__website.mp3
Wayne Dammert interview, part 2, recorded March 27, 2017

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Jim Delaney, investigative reporter, Cincinnati Enquirer, who was in the newsroom the night of the fire and later reported on the class-action aluminum wiring trials.  He's now the owner of Delaney Communications.

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Jim Delaney interview recorded April 18, 2017

Jeff Johnson, broadcast engineer and commercial photographer, who worked for the interior designer Harry Backus with Backus Associates and took photographs inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club for them before the fire.  

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Jeff Johnson interview recorded April 4, 2017

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Jeff Ruby, restaurant owner and regional director of the Holiday Inns at the time of the fire, who along with friends had front row center seats in the Cabaret Room the night of the fire.  

You'll find Jeff Ruby's story of the night of the fire in a chapter of his book, Not Counting Tomorrow: The Unlikely Life of Jeff Ruby.  There's a chapter in this book by Jeff Ruby about his experiences at the Beverly Hills Supper Club the night of the fire.  The chapter is entitled "Tragedy" after the song title by the Bee Gees.

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Jeff Ruby interview recorded April 18, 2017

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Rona Shannon from the 1970's

Rona Shannon, cocktail waitress in the Cabaret Room before the fire (1976-1977).

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Rona Shannon interview recorded April 11, 2017

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Jim Teter (right) and Jim McDonald at the Beverly Hills Supper Club

Jim Teter, part of the Teter & McDonald comedy team which opened for John Davidson in the Cabaret Room the night of the fire. 

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Jim Teter interview recorded April 4, 2017

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Credit Gerry Wolter
Front page photograph in the May 29, 1977 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer taken by Gerry Wolter the night of the Beverly Hills Supper Club.

Gerry Wolter, Cincinnati Enquirer staff photographer, first photographer on the scene of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire that night.  He had photographed many social events there in the past.

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Gerry Wolter interview recorded April 25, 2017

Other related reference books written about the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire:

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The Beverly Hills Supper Club: The Untold Story of Ky's Worst Tragedy written by Robert D. Webster


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Beverly Hills: The Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire by Robert G. Lawson

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Beverly Hills Country Club (Images of America) by Earl W. Clark & Allen J. Singer

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Reconstruction of a Tragedy: The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, Southgate, Kentucky, May 28, 1977, written by Richard L Best.  Published by the National Fire Protection Association, and it’s very rare!