Mickie Finn's (also known as Mickey Finn's) was the creation of piano player Fred E. Finn, who developed the concept in several different forms: a 1960's nightclub in San Diego, a television show on NBC in 1966, a series of compilation record albums issued from 1966 on, and a stageshow continuing on into the 21st century.
The first Mickie Finn's started on University Avenue in the Hillcrest section of San Diego, California, where Fred and Mickie Finn converted an old warehouse into a rambunctious "Gay '90s–Roaring '20s–Swinging '30s" nightclub. Red-haired piano player Fred E. Finn (born October 4, 1938, in San Francisco) was a recent Business Administration graduate of San Jose State College, a base from which he and banjoist Red Watson played the San Francisco club scene from 1956 to 1959. One detail he learned in college was location — he considered Washington and Hawaii for his planned nightclub, but chose San Diego, partly, he said, because of logistics — he couldn't afford to transport his collection of old nickelodeons, 1890's pictures, and various turn-of-the-century items, which he planned to use as "atmosphere" for his new club, anywhere else.
Mickie Finn's nightclub opened on October 28, 1960, with seating for 600 people — soon, over a thousand people would cram into the building each evening. The first year, the nightclub grossed over $250,000. Red Watson played his banjo with Fred at the nightclub until 1965, when he moved on to play in Las Vegas, preceding Fred's move by a few years. Over the next fourteen years, four-million customers consumed 250,000 gallons of beer. Fred would race a 1927 Seagraves fire engine at the El Cajon Speedway as a publicity gimmick for the nightclub, as well as fire an old cannon after every score by the San Diego Chargers at all home games. In the early 1970's, Fred and Mickie opened a second Mickie Finn's nightclub in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row, in the new Los Angeles Emporium. The San Diego location closed in 1974. Fred's blonde banjo-playing wife (born June 6, 1938, in Hugo, Oklahoma) always appeared in the show using the stage name 'Mickie Finn', and never spoke — she and Fred were divorced in 1973, and Fred's second wife Kelly took over the banjo duties from 1980 on, in other incarnations of Mickie Finn's.
Fred Finn had been performing at the San Diego club in 1965 when he was approached by a television producer, who asked if Fred would like to do a TV show - this same producer later came by the nightclub with NBC executives to see the entire act - they were all so impressed that they decided to give Mickie Finn's a chance as a TV series.
Mickie Finn's was a summer replacement series for the failed NBC sitcom Mona McCluskey, which had starred Juliette Prowse and Denny Miller on Thursday nights. The show's Nielsen ratings were better than for its sitcom predecessor, but would have been even better had its timeslot not been the same as ABC's primetime soap-opera hit Peyton Place. However, NBC did not pick the show up for the 1966-1967 Fall season; on September 8, 1966, a comedy series, The Hero, replaced Mickey Finn's in this timeslot on NBC.
Dunhill Records, run by Lou Adler, signed Fred E. and Mickie Finn in 1966, during the run of their television show. Up through the late 1970's, Dunhill issued their singles (sometimes in simultaneous batches of four or five), and several albums (Mickie Finn's Live, Mickie Finn's: America's #1 Speakeasy, The Now Sound of Mickie Finn's, and Saturday Night at Mickie Finn's). Neither the albums nor the singles ever "climbed the charts", but are sold today as collectors items worldwide.
After the television show went off the air, the Mickie Finn stage show began headlining, in October, 1966, at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and continued on to play other Las Vegas clubs until 1988. Fred Finn, with second wife Kelly on banjo, brought the show back to San Diego twice: first, in 1988, for four performances at the Fiesta Dinner Theatre, and again, in June 1990, for one month at the Hahn Cosmopolitan Theatre. From 1990 on, Fred Finn continued his stageshow presence throughout the US from a base in Florida, slightly changing the name from Mickie Finn's' to Mickey Finn's.
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