11/04/2011 02:17 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

Robin Leach On UFO Hunting And 'Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous' (VIDEO)

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? If you ask celebrity sleuth Robin Leach, he most likely prefers his 50-year pursuit of celebrity stories and gossip to the night he hunted UFOs in the Maine countryside with me some 35 years ago. But maybe not.

Leach -- who still offers everybody he meets "champagne wishes and caviar dreams," his signature phrase from his former 11-year television series, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" -- has a longstanding fascination with UFOs and unexplained phenomena.

"It's something that's interested me from way back when in England as a newspaper reporter," he told me recently. "And a good friend of mine, Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has told me stories of astronauts coming back to Earth reporting UFOs."


"Now, UFOs don't necessarily mean little green men in Martian suits," he continued. "But there are things that go in space, up there in the sky, that cannot be explained."

Truth be told, Leach and I actually went UFO hunting one rainy night in 1976 up in Maine after hearing stories of many local citizens spotting strange nocturnal lights in the sky.

That night, our only sightings were numerous raindrops on our rental car's windshield -- it was difficult reminding Robin to keep his eyes on the soaked road instead of in the sky as he drove us through the countryside.

"I think, secretly, we both hoped we'd be abducted," he said recently. "I have met some very strange people, and some very strange cats -- and I'm not talking about jazz greats. I'm talking about animals that people claim have come from outer space, and boy, they're weird!"

With his seven-days-a-week Vegas Deluxe online site, Leach could easily claim to be the busiest celebrity/entertainment reporter working the famous Vegas strip and beyond.

But over the decades that Leach has globe-hopped in search of the perfect celebrity encounter, he hasn't talked much about his attraction to UFOs.

"I haven't ever really raised the subject with celebrities, probably because they'd think I was weird and mad," he said.

"But we do know that over the years, everybody from presidents of the United States to major dignitaries around the world, and, certainly, some of our NASA space boys -- they have claimed to have seen and photographed unexplained flying objects or phenomena."

UFOs aside, Leach -- who was also involved in the launch of a couple of other little broadcast gems, namely "Entertainment Tonight" and The Food Network -- recently celebrated his 70th birthday and 50th year covering show business with a three-day bash in Las Vegas.

The venue for the occasion was the acclaimed and unique Keep Memory Alive center in Las Vegas, which raises awareness and funds to support the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

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The building, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, is both weird and fascinating. It reflects the two sides of the brain, representing creativity and imagination on one side, and logic and reason on the other.

Leach was instrumental in raising enormous amounts of money to build Keep Memory Alive. He conducted one of the annual charity auctions, which raised nearly $30 million.

"Part of the motivation was from working with the Alzheimer's Association in New York with Princess Yasmin Khan, who lost her mother, [actress] Rita Hayworth, to Alzheimer's," he explained.

"I'd been invited to a very early on [Keep Memory Alive] dinner and the microphones and PA system failed. I offered my voice, they accepted, I helped save their auction and they invited me to do it every year from then on -- and the rest is history, as they say!"

It seemed the proper place to hold this show business humanitarian's special birthday, where the previous and current mayors of Vegas, husband and wife Oscar and Carolyn Goodman, presented Leach with a key to the city as well as a proclamation designating Sept. 10 as Robin Leach Day in Las Vegas.

"We wanted to do it at the Keep Memory Alive center to show a lot of friends from around the world, who came [to the event] just what we were capable of achieving in Las Vegas, a city that's only known for gaming and madness and entertainment," Leach said.

As he looked to the future with no intention yet of retiring from the business that's embraced him for half a century, Leach recently told me, "Maybe for my eventual bucket list, we should try for one more UFO encounter trip!"

I wouldn't miss it for anything, and I send Mr. Leach the very best champagne wishes and caviar dreams.