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Kings & Aces 1961-1988

As the Strip expanded, it became one of the world's most famous stage. Superstars of the stage, rising political stars, and visitors from all corner of the world rubbed elbows in Las Vegas. Casinos dueled to be the largest and glitziest, but few could have foreseen the incredible growth that was to come.

 

Rat Pack
Sands Collection

Audiences were wowed by the incomparable cool of the Frank Sinatra and his cohort, popularly known as the Rat Pack.

In early 1960, the group filmed Ocean's Eleven during the day and performed on stage at the Copa Room late into the night.

Pictured here, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop might be asking each other where Peter Lawford had gone.

JFK
Sands Collection
A stream of notables visited the Strip's top resorts. In this undated photo, Sands entertainment director Jack Entratter shakes hands with then-Senator John F. Kennedy. His brother-in-law, Peter Lawford, enlisted the aid of his fellow Rat Packers in Kennedy's successful 1960 presidential campaign.
Sinatra Baccarat
Sands Collection
Though fellow Rat-Packer Dean Martin actually jumped behind the Sands’ tables and dealt live games on occasion (he had learned the ropes in the illegal casinos of Steubenville, Ohio), Frank Sinatra had to content himself with play-acting in this staged publicity photo, which shows a recent Strip arrival: baccarat.
Dunes
Dunes Collection

With the growing popularity of the Strip, many of its casinos, although only a few years old, dramatically expanded.

In 1962, for example, the Dunes added its signature hotel tower. Though this seemed a profound change, it was only a hint of things to come.

CP
Caesars Palace Promotion and Public Relations File


CP invite
Caesars Palace Promotion and Public Relations File

Caesars Palace was unlike anything that had come before it.

Earlier resorts had modestly suggested a general atmosphere of vacation luxury, but Sarno's creation promised to transport guests back to the grandeur of an imperial Rome where everyone was a Caesar (or Cleopatra).

 

 

 

 

 

In this invitation to his guests, Sarno (appearing as a cartoon Caesar) extolled the virtues of his new palace.

CP
Bill Willard Collection
Even before Caesars opened, it was different. This construction photo shows the trademark columns and extended driveway, two classic elements of the resort.
CP
Single Item Accessions
Though the resort has been renovated beyond recognition, the trademark fountains and statue of Nike of Samothrace are a reminder of the first days of the Caesars' empire.
Tanya
Bill Willard Collection

Sarno's second Strip casino, Circus Circus, was unusual in that it opened without an attached hotel and levied an admission charge on guests.

Though these ideas were not successful, other of Sarno's notions will long be remembered, such as Tanya, a keno-playing performing elephant loaned out to the casino for several years.

KK
Las Vegas News Bureau Collection

International
Dennis McBride Collection

The next generation of Strip casinos abandoned Sarno's vision of dramatically-themed spaces for size.

Kirk Kerkorian's International was the world's largest hotel when it opened in July 1969, with over 1500 hotel rooms and the state's biggest casino.

Designed by Martin Stern, Jr., this casino would set the pattern for the next generation of resorts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified Monday, 30-Aug-2010 13:45:30 PDT