Lola Falana was one of the most electrifying performers of the 20th century. Known for her sultry voice, dazzling dance moves, and captivating stage presence, she left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Born in Camden, New Jersey in 1942, Falana’s talent was apparent from a young age. She began performing in local talent shows as a child, and by the time she was a teenager, she had already established herself as a rising star.
Over the course of her career, Falana would go on to become one of the most sought-after entertainers of her time. She appeared on numerous television shows, starred in several films, and headlined some of the biggest stages in the world. With her signature blend of soulful R&B, high-energy disco, and Broadway-style showmanship, she captivated audiences and won the hearts of fans around the world.
But despite her immense talent and popularity, Falana’s career was not without its controversies. In the late 1970s, she found herself at the center of a media firestorm when she was banned from appearing on The Tonight Show. The reasons for her ban weren’t revealed until much later, but at the time rumors swirled about everything from inappropriate behavior to political disagreements with the show’s host, Johnny Carson.
Regardless of the cause, the ban marked a turning point in Falana’s career. Though she continued to perform and record music for many years, she never quite achieved the same level of mainstream success that she had enjoyed in her earlier years. Nevertheless, her legacy as a trailblazing performer and an icon of Black entertainment endures to this day.
So, what was it that led to Lola Falana’s ban from The Tonight Show? Keep watching to find out the shocking truth.
Facts Verse Presents: Lola Falana was Never Allowed Back to the Tonight Show After This
Lola and Wayne
Lola Falana and Wayne Newton met each other in the mid-1960s when they were both rising stars in the entertainment industry. At the time, Falana was a popular dancer and singer in Las Vegas, while Newton was also well-known singer and entertainer.
The two performers became friends and often performed together in Las Vegas shows and on television programs.
Over the years, Falana and Newton remained close and continued to perform together on occasion. In fact, the Lola’s last known performance was with Newton at his theater in Branson, Missouri.
Wayne Newton’s Beef With Johnny Carson
Veteran entertainer Wayne Newton had it out for host of The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson.
During a 2007 interview with CNN’s Larry King, Wayne Newton spoke out against the late-night host Johnny Carson, whom he called a “mean-spirited human being.” Newton recounted how he had appeared on Carson’s show many times and had considered him a friend until Carson began making jokes about his masculinity. Newton described how Carson’s barbs, which often implied that he was gay, began to affect him, and he attempted to reach out to Carson to discuss the issue. Newton said he called Carson’s agents, manager, and attorney, but when he couldn’t get through, he went to see Carson in person.
Newton recounted how he walked unannounced into Carson’s office at NBC in Burbank and confronted him, threatening him with physical violence if he didn’t stop the jokes. Newton said Carson responded by claiming he was Newton’s “biggest fan,” a statement that the crooner found disingenuous. Newton’s interview with King revealed a side of the entertainment industry that is often kept hidden from the public, showing the dark side of comedy and the toll it can take on those who are targeted by it.
So, what led up to this volatile situation, and what happened after things erupted like that? Keep watching to find out.
Newton Had Stepped On Carson’s Toes
In 1980, Wayne Newton was at the peak of his career in Las Vegas, headlining at numerous hotels and earning millions of dollars each year. Meanwhile, Johnny Carson was a powerful figure in Hollywood, responsible for a significant portion of NBC’s profits through his long reign over late-night television. Carson was well-connected to Las Vegas, as the owner of a local television station and a performer on the Strip.
However, the two star’s relationship soured after a contentious battle to purchase the mob-controlled Aladdin Hotel, which Newton ultimately won. After this incident, that’s when Carson began to mock and criticize Newton in his monologues. The conflict between the two entertainment legends highlights the cutthroat nature of the industry and the potential for animosity to develop even among the biggest names in the business
Following the rejection of casino’s purchase agreement, Johnny Carson and his partner, longtime gaming executive Ed Nigro, felt betrayed and infuriated. In response, Carson left Las Vegas and never returned. Nigro expressed his disappointment, stating that they knew they had been double-crossed and that the judge and the state had allowed it.
For several years, Newton attempted to reach out to Carson to address the issue, but to no avail. But it was only after Carson started taking jabs at him on the Tonight show that Newton decided to confront the host himself by walking into his office unannounced and threatening to physically harm him if the jokes did not stop.
While the jokes did cease, the aftermath of Newton’s purchase of the Aladdin and the subsequent state approval became a personal nightmare for him. But it wasn’t just Newton who ended up becoming on the receiving end of Carson’s ire, as Newton’s longtime friend and collaborator Fola Falana also ended up on Carson’s blacklist. Why? Well, just because she and Newton were pals!
While that might sound petty, Carson was known for banning guests for a wide range of trivial reasons. For instance, Johnny once banned actress Joan Rivers after she was given her own short-lived talk late night show on Fox. It apparently aired in the same timeslot as Carson’s show, and this ended up devastating him. For the rest of his life, Carson never talked to Rivers again.
MS Forced Lola To Retire
Lola Falana, born as Loletha Elaine Falana in Camden, NJ on September 11, 1942, grew up in the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project. Her father was a Cuban welder who came to the US before Lola was born. Despite her parents not approving, Lola’s love for music was evident from a young age, as she began dancing at the age of three and singing in the church choir at age five. Lola left Germantown High School before graduating to pursue her career in the entertainment industry.
In the early 1960s, Lola Falana arrived in New York with only $26 in her pocket and took any dancing jobs she could get, primarily in Harlem clubs. Sammy Davis Jr. discovered her in one of these clubs and quickly cast her in his Broadway musical, Golden Boy – but more on that in a moment.
From there, she recorded her debut single, appeared in Davis’ film, A Man Called Adam, and then appeared in several films in Italy.
Her friends were impressed by her rapid success, and Falana attributed it to God, as she had been raised in the church and had taken dance lessons from the age of three. Despite her talent, Falana did not seek fame but had many doors open for her anyway.
By the late 1970s, she was known as the Queen of Las Vegas and was nominated for a Tony. However, despite her success, she felt unfulfilled and unhappy, particularly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987.
Falana’s MS left her left side paralyzed. She also became partially blind, and both her voice and hearing were impaired. Obviously after going through something like that, she was unable to continue on in her musical career with the same kind of constant attention and dedication.
She turned to her faith, becoming a Catholic and recording a pro-life single, “Don’t Cry Mary.” After recovering from her illness, she focused on charitable and religious work. Although she eventually performed again in Las Vegas, Falana’s practice of religion and faith became the center of her life.
After another bout with MS, Falena moved back in with her parents in Philadelphia. Today, at the age of 80, Falana is no longer a performing artist, and few people would recognize her name, despite her groundbreaking achievements in the entertainment industry as a role model for young black women.
Lola Had An Affair With Sammy Davis Jr.
Lola Falana and Sammy Davis Jr. had a romantic relationship in the 1960s. At the time, Falana was a struggling dancer when she met Davis at that Harlem nightclub where she was performing. Davis was taken with her talent and beauty, and as we’ve already stated, he helped launch her career. But the two also became romantically involved, and Davis even left his wife May Britt for Falana. They were together for a brief period, but their relationship did not last. Despite their romantic involvement, the two remained friends and professional colleagues. Davis continued to support Falana in her career and featured her in his photography which was later compiled into a book titled Photo by Sammy Davis Jr.
Lola Falana was known for being a multitalented performer, including singing, dancing, and acting.
She gained widespread fame in the 1960s and 1970s for her energetic performances and glamorous style, and broke down stereotypes as a powerful and funny role model for many young black women.
She made appearances in Broadway shows, movies, and television programs, and became a popular performer in Las Vegas during the late 1970s. Additionally, she was recognized for her contributions to charity work and her outspoken views on religion and politics.
Well, that about wraps things up.
Did you know that Lola Falana was banned from The Tonight Show and that she once had an affair with Sammy Davis jr? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for watching.