Nicky Ciampoli met Rudy de la Mor shortly after arriving in Palm Springs, and the encounter changed his life.
Ciampoli and a friend were hanging out at a restaurant where de la Mor, by that time a well-established Palm Springs entertainer, was performing. The friend mentioned to de la Mor that Ciampoli did imitations, particularly one of Carol Channing. Intrigued, de la Mor asked Ciampoli to do it there. The impromptu imitation was the beginning of a close friendship in which de la Mor often offered advice and encouragement.
“He knew how to read me, and I knew how to read him,” Ciampoli says.
Ciampoli’s story is one of many people in the Coachella Valley who were encouraged, helped, and entertained by de la Mor, who died March 5. He was 73.
De la Mor was a classically trained pianist who began his career as a child prodigy when he was discovered by Jimmy Durante. He went on to perform with the Orange County Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Symphony Orchestra. During the years, he honed his comedic as well as music skills, and became known for his over-the-top hats and attire.
This weekend, de la Mor’s friends and fans will pay tribute to him. He will be remembered with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Ciampoli spearheaded raising the $10,000 to pay for the star. The dedication will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 9, in front of Azul Tapas Lounge, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive.
But before that, there will be a show celebrating de la Mor’s musical and community contributions at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Azul.
Admission to both events is free. To reserve a table, call (760) 325-5533.