Las Vegas is renowned for being the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World. In 2017, the glitz, glamor and over-the-top hedonism found in Sin City cannot be matched anywhere else in the world but was it always like this?
The short answer is, yes – for the last 70 years at least. So, in honor of all the fun and frolics that have been had by Vegas visitors over the decades, let’s take a look at 10 vintage videos of Las Vegas shows from the 1950s right up to the 90s.
1950s: Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge was a hotel and casino resort in Las Vegas that was based on the famous venue of the same name in the French capital city of Paris.
It was opened back 24th May, 1955 and became the first desegregated hotel and casino in the US. Unfortunately, it was closed for full-time use later that same year but remains open once every two years for gambling purposes, to retain its gaming license.
In 1992, the building was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1960s: The Rat Pack
The Rat Pack need no introduction.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop earned their nickname from the media after frequently meeting as friends at the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, before working with each other on stage and on the silver screen.
The group dominated Vegas in the 1960s with their high-energy shows that fully utilized the chemistry present between the iconic performers.
1960s: Las Vegas Showgirls
Burlesque was a huge part of the growth of Las Vegas. The role of the show girls in attracting tourists to the city is still very understated. Back in the days when the likes of Bugsy Siegel, “Lucky” Luciano, and Benny Binion owned the town, a major source of revenue came from burlesque shows.
Margaret Kelly Leibovici aka Miss Bluebell created the Bluebell Girls in 1932 and by the 1960s, every casino resort on the Strip boasted a burlesque act.
1970s: Elvis Presley
If one individual personifies the spirit of Las Vegas, it has to be Elvis Presley.
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is remembered as one of the great musical performers of all-time. His hits even included an ode to Sin City in the form of Viva Las Vegas too. His stage shows in the city became the stuff of legend almost immediately.
It is fair to say that Las Vegas would not be the entertainment hub it is now if it wasn’t for the infectious appeal of the Graceland singer.
1970s: Tom Jones
One of the key attributes for a Vegas performer is to possess is charisma. No singer boasts that gift more clearly than proud Welshman Tom Jones.
The baritone performer reached such a level of fame within Vegas that he earned the nickname ‘The Voice’.
He is credited with helping Vegas grow into the vibrant city it is now thanks to his powerful shows during the 1960s and 1970s. Judging by this footage, it’s easy to see why he was such a draw for the ladies with those snake hips.
1980s: Wayne Newton
It says a lot about a man when his nicknames in the showbiz industry include ‘Mr. Las Vegas’, ‘Mr. Entertainment’, and ‘The Midnight Idol’.
It’s fair to say that Wayne Newton’s reputation preceded him in Vegas. His most famous song was “Danke Schoen” and it would resonate across generations after it was used in the hit cult movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
His frequent performances in the Vegas resorts throughout the 80s helped to make him a Sin City hero.
Liberace was as glorious as any performer across the world. If you wanted razzle and dazzle then it was Liberace that would guarantee it – and then some.
His career stretched across four decades, such was his enduring appeal. A likeable smile and a warmth that was never matched offered a unique show experience that kept fans coming back for more.
Liberace’s eccentricity and charisma only added to his star power and now it’s no surprise to learn that his former mansion is currently being restored to it’s former glory and acts as a physical tribute to the man’s work across the city.
1990s: Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II
Las Vegas has seen some of the most awe-inspiring acts grace its casinos, hotels, and resorts over the decades. These days, boxing has started to become a staple in the Las Vegas diet of entertainment.
Boxing in Vegas hit the global headlines when Mike Tyson bit the ear of rival Evander Holyfield in the 6th round of their title re-match on 28th June, 1997. Tyson was disqualified and brought shame upon himself.
Vegas ruthlessly used the publicity of the sour event to promote itself as a capital for boxing. Since then, countless fights including ‘The Fight of the Century’ between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have taken place in the city.
1990s: Carrot Top with Donny and Marie Osmond
Carrot Top could well be considered one of the most unlikely cult heroes of Las Vegas. The ginger-haired, awkward-looking, goofy comedian still managed to carve out a successful career for himself as one of the great Vegas performers though.
His creative use of props, merged together with a cutting edge humor, saw him sell out the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand for 15 weeks a year between 1996 and 2003.
The comedian is still going strong to this day and his shows are ranked as some of the best in the city.
1990s – Siegfried and Roy
This German-American duo are widely considered to be two of the most fabulous performers in Vegas.
Having began their professional careers performing on Caribbean cruise ships, the pair were hired by Ken Field in 1981 to open the Beyond Belief show at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino.
For years, the duo wowed their audiences with dazzling magic tricks and acts of illusion until they retired in 2010.