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Six degrees

Keira Lu Huang

 

Kobe Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, was in Hong Kong this month on a promotional tour. The shooting guard appears to be making the speediest of recoveries from a ruptured Achilles tendon – having sustained the injury in April, Bryant has hinted he’ll be ready to join in pre-season training with the Lakers next month. While he was in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reported that Bryant’s bodyguards turned down a request from Sabrina Ho Chiu-ying, 22, to have her photo taken with him. Ho is the daughter of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun …

 

The 91-year-old “king of gambling”, the wealthiest person in Macau and a man who at one time had four wives, has been a munificent patriarch to his offspring. For example, Pansy Ho Chiu-king, another of his daughters, owns 29 per cent of MGM Grand Macau. Her paternity has proven awkward for her business partners at MGM Mirage, however – in 2010 she was barred from running a gaming business in New Jersey, in the United States, due the state’s gaming regulators’ judgment that her father had “extensive ties” to organised crime. MGM Mirage, aka MGM Resorts International, is the casino company founded by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian …

 

Kerkorian, a former eighth-grade dropout, boxer and second world war pilot, is known by the nickname “the smiling cobra”. He earned his first bucket of gold – US$9 million – by selling land he’d bought in 1962, on the Las Vegas Strip, to the company that would build the Caesars Palace hotel. In 1967, he bought 33 hectares of land on the city’s Paradise Road for US$5 million and built the International Hotel, at the time the largest in the world. The first two performers to appear at the hotel’s enormous Showroom Internationale, in 1968, were Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley …

 

That year marked Presley’s return to the stage after a seven-year break. In 1973, he featured in the first globally broadcast (via satellite) concert. After years of prescription drug abuse, however, he died on August 16, 1977 aged 42 (See All the King’s men). In 2011, another icon of American music recalled, in an interview, meeting Presley when she was a child. “It was one of those moments that I won’t forget,” she said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Hi Mr Elvis, nice to meet you.’ We didn’t do that. We just sat back and looked at him. Amazing to look at.” That singer was the late Whitney Houston …

 

Houston would have turned 50 on August 9. Eighteen months ago, she was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton in California, heart disease and cocaine use having contributed to her accidental bathtub drowning. Despite a troubled personal life overshadowing her musical accomplishments late in her career, her legacy lives on. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as “the most awarded female act of all time”. In 1997, Houston featured in and produced a television version of Cinderella. The girl she handpicked for the lead role was Brandy Norwood …

 

The 34-year-old singer’s birthday is February 11, the same day and month as those on which Houston died. Quite different to her little brother Ray J and cousin Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion, apparently), Norwood – known for her throaty vocals and beat-driven R&B – has something of a good girl image and a “hip-yet-wholesome” appeal. She started singing in a church choir in Mississippi and says she became a fan of Houston aged seven. Later, she accompanied to his highschool prom a future National Basketball Association All- Star: Kobe Bryant.

 

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