June 8, 2003 - Las Vegas Sun: Comedian Cork Proctor joined the Peace Corps at 66. His wife Carolyn Proctor helped design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Suriname: Peace Corps Suriname: The Peace Corps in Suriname: June 8, 2003 - Las Vegas Sun: Comedian Cork Proctor joined the Peace Corps at 66. His wife Carolyn Proctor helped design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 11:46 am: Edit Post

Comedian Cork Proctor joined the Peace Corps at 66. His wife Carolyn Proctor helped design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago

Comedian Cork Proctor joined the Peace Corps at 66. His wife Carolyn Proctor helped design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago

Taking chances has paid off
for venerable Entertainer

Cork Proctor sees the world a little differently than the rest of us.

Perhaps it's because the energetic 70-year-old comedian is dyslexic. Or maybe it's because his mind fires like a machine gun that never runs out of bullets.

Proctor, who came to Las Vegas from Southern California with his family at age 9, didn't try stand-up comedy until he was 40.

But getting a late start is nothing new for him.

Proctor joined the Peace Corps at 66.

Last summer he attended an auctioneering school in Clear Lake, Iowa.

He is going to start welding school soon, so he can pursue an interest in sculpting.

And he has a grant from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to interview old-time entertainers for the school's archives.

"I get to interview wonderful performers," said Proctor, whose silver hair gives him an aura of distinction that masks his trademark biting humor sort of an intellectual's Don Rickles. "Guys like Buddy Greco, Sam Butera and Vince Falcone, who was (Frank) Sinatra's conductor for 10 years. It's fun."

Fun is an important part of Proctor's life fun and hard work.

He spent three years (1996-'99) as entertainment director of Coast Resorts (The Orleans, Gold Coast, Barbary Coast and most recently Suncoast), but it wasn't much fun.

"I reached the point where I realized I wasn't really a corporate guy," Proctor said. "I had ideas I would like to have seen implemented, things that would have been based on sound judgment after almost 40 years in show business."

But things weren't going his way.

"When you have taken the money and I'm as much of a whore as anybody when you've taken the money and you're not producing anything and there are no results to justify the money," Proctor said, "it's time to leave. I have a work ethic, but then I'm a little crazy.

"I just got to the point where it was sheer frustration."

So naturally, he and his wife, Carolyn, joined the Peace Corps in 1999 to get away.

"It was a joke at first," said Proctor, who recently began performing his acerbic comedy at the exclusive Stirling Lounge inside Turnberry Place. "My wife and I were hanging out in Papeete, Tahiti, as we are prone to do. That's why I don't have a lot of net worth, but we have had some great trips."

Proctor's mind is like a pool table. When you break the billiard balls, they go in 15 different directions. His rapid-fire conversations often take different routes, but they usually come back to the place where they began.

"We met a guy in Tahiti, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University in Tempe," Proctor recalled. "We started talking about great scuba-diving spots and he brought up (the island nation of) Dominica.

"I said, 'Oh, man, I would love to go diving there.' And he said a friend of his ran the Peace Corps office there and I said, 'You're kidding. The Peace Corps is still open?' "

Carolyn Proctor, a writer, graphic artist and founding editor of Nevada Women magazine, helped design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago.

The seeds were planted. The couple ended up in the jungles of Suriname, South America.

Proctor spent about a year working on community development projects and returned to Las Vegas. Carolyn remained behind another year to help out on a project to preserve turtles and other animals, and research a book.

"We lived in the jungle drinking rainwater," Proctor said. "I haven't had a cold in three years."

The comedian, who is a popular emcee and roast master, has an innate craving for adventure.

Proctor came to Las Vegas in 1941 when his father (an auditor for Firestone) and mother settled here. When he was a teenager, Proctor and his friends stole cars for fun at a time when everyone said it was safe to leave your keys in your car.

"I was arrested for stealing a car from the parking lot of the Huntridge Theatre in 1947 when I was 14 years old," he said. "I was arrested by a policeman whose brother was my best friend. Boy, was that embarrassing."

Proctor's criminal career was short-lived.

He attended Las Vegas High School from 1946-50, but left before he graduated. Then he attended Bishop Minogue Catholic High School in Reno, and left in 1952, a quarter of a credit short of graduation.

He was in the Navy from 1953-55, serving on a minesweeper off the coast of Southern California at the tail end of the Korean War.

"We fought the landing at Catalina and the invasion of Ensenada," Proctor said.

After his discharge Proctor studied broadcasting in Los Angeles. His first job was as an afternoon drive-time announcer with a radio station in Reno.

"I also sold ad time and worked as a drummer," Proctor said. "We had a trio called The Winners. We worked in Harold's Club in Reno from '65 to '70. At the same time I was working for Bill Harrah, doing all of Harrah's commercials.

"Those were the halcyon days for me. I was doing all of that, and I hosted a late-night movie program five nights a week. It was really fun."

In 1970 he moved to Los Angeles to take a shot at standup comedy, more than 10 years before comedy clubs became all the rage.

"There wasn't a lot of work for comedians back then so I went back to Reno and virtually started all over," Proctor said. "Starting over is pretty much the story of my life."

Comedy is king

Proctor landed his first comedy gig in 1973, performing at Harold's Club in Reno four times a night, six nights a week.

He says he didn't have an act.

"I read Dow Jones, Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor," Proctor said. "Every night I came out and did different stuff. By the end of the year I had an act -- but not really. Still don't."

He also performed at clubs at Lake Tahoe and Sacramento and eventually spent nine years working on cruise ships 30 or 40 weeks a year.

One of his first gigs in Las Vegas was at the Royal Inn, now the Greek Isles.

"I started there in 1974," Proctor said. "Peter Anthony and I worked on a stage that was like six feet off the ground."

Anthony, another musician-turned-comedian, recalled the early days of Vegas.

"I first met Cork in late 1963," Anthony said. "I had a musical group in those days and was working at the Castaways. He was working across the street at the Sands with Susie and the Night Owls playing drums.

"We met and were having coffee at the Castaways coffee shop around six in the morning. He told me that he wanted to be a comedian, and I told him I also wanted to get into comedy."

When Proctor was hired in '74 to do a standup act at the Royal Inn, he replaced Anthony, who was leaving to do comedy at the Sahara.

"Cork is a naturally funny guy," Anthony said. "He has tremendous abilities in a lot of different areas. He's a talented guy with a good heart."

Later, Proctor performed for 18 months at the Plaza and more than a year at the Hacienda, where Mandalay Bay now stands.

"The Hacienda was not the best place to be," Proctor said. "I was caught in a power struggle between Allen Glick and Frank Rosenthal."

Glick and Rosenthal allegedly were frontmen for the mob.

"It was my first time being fired," Proctor said. "They fired me on July 29, 1976, for being chronically tardy."

The day after he got fired, Proctor read for and got a small part as a cop in a film shot locally called "Benny and Barney: Las Vegas Undercover."

The cast included Rodney Dangerfield, Terry Kiser, Hugh O'Brian, Jane Seymour and Jack Cassidy, who died in a hotel fire in Los Angeles in December 1976, shortly after the film was completed.

Proctor has owned his home on the south side of Las Vegas for 19 years.

"At the time I was going with a girl 27 years my junior," he said. "We drove by the house one afternoon, about two-thirds trashed, and I liked it so I bought it as a joke. I had already bought my girlfriend a house.

"I was in love. She was 23. I was 50. As my therapist said, 'You had it coming. You deserved it. Yep, she's going to put it to you, and you let her.' "

Proctor married Carolyn Hamilton 11 years ago. It was a wedding in which guests came in Western and early American costumes and paid $25 to get in. The $6,000 they raised went to Opportunity Village.

At a time when most people his age are retired, or slowing down, Proctor is still looking for the ideal job.

"If I had my way, I would have a jazz trio a couple of nights a week and do comedy three nights a week," he said. "I'd be in seventh heaven.

"If I keep looking, I will find it."

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Story Source: Las Vegas Sun

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Suriname; Comedy; Older Volunteers



By Carolyn Proctor ( on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 7:34 pm: Edit Post

Just a couple of notes:

Not to undermine my husband, Cork's story-telling but I feel the need to set the record straight.

I did NOT "design the Peace Corps logo more than 40 years ago". In the late sixties, I designed full-page ads for PC while working at the L.A. ad agency servicing the account.

The man in Tahiti who told us about Peace Corps today was with Puma College, not the University of Arizona (well, Cork got the state right, anyway).

Everything else my husband says is true.

More or less.

Carolyn Proctor

By pcvarano ( on Sunday, August 27, 2006 - 4:20 pm: Edit Post

What a wonderful way to get further connected to Suriname PCVs........
Our group (SUR11) is now down to a mere 9 in number, but we have such great talent dispersed among the US byways and in the land of Suriname! I enjoyed reading this very much. Great joy to you from the beautiful land of undending surprises. I am in Tutubaka/Nieuw Aurora with PCV Margot Feller; next door in Gunsi is Joe Shaftner. We are at the doorstep to our 1 year mark....

By dave sasnchez (cache-ntc-ab07.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, April 14, 2007 - 1:57 am: Edit Post

hi,i'm trying to find out where cork is performing in vegas.

By Ben Dansby (cpe-58-168-255-51.nsw.bigpond.net.au - on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 - 12:39 am: Edit Post

Hi Cork,
I was the Chef at Reef Resort in Reno when it opened spent a lot of time with you back then doing menus for the Resort, you let me come on stage and do my bit. Saw you on The last Dick Clark show. My wife Angela was with me in Reno.We now live in Australia been here 28 years.Glad I found this site.

Take Care
Ben Dansby

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