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Appearing Then… AND NOW
Vegas has always been a blast when it comes to entertainment. In the 1950s, for instance, “Up and Atom City” offered the spectacle of nuclear detonations some 65 miles away; Louis Prima’s mad
trumpeting at Sahara’s Casbar Lounge was “The Wildest Show in Las
Vegas”; and Minksy’s Follies debuted at the Desert Inn as the first topless
showgirls in town.
Countless other moments play on in the mists of time. Then, remarkably, there is the still-active old guard, such as the trio, born months
apart in 1926, of Tony Bennett, Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis.
After ushering in 2015 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with Lady
Gaga (who ushered in 2017 at the Encore), Bennett, still touring, was
feted last year on his 90th birthday with a champagne toast at New
York-New York Hotel & Casino’s replica Brooklyn Bridge, and at the
star-studded 20th anniversary Power of Love gala at the MGM Grand
This April, just shy of his 91st birthday, Rickles and co-host Regis
Philbin bring their “Laughfest” to Downtown’s Smith Center for the
Long-time Vegas resident Lewis, who first
performed here with Dean Martin in 1949,
still does ticketed shows, such as his three-night stand last fall at off-Strip South Point
Hotel, Casino and Spa.
Liberace, dazzling Vegas from 1944 until
just before his passing in 1987, is back via a
display of his cars at the event-capable Liberace Garage, piano included. Last October,
his landmarked Liberace Mansion became
available for private tours by arrangement.
The 24-hour Peppermill Restaurant and Fire-
side Lounge, where Liberace
frequently dined after perfor-
mances, is a Vegas must.
With more than 30,000
Vegas appearances over
time, Wayne “Mr. Las Vegas”
Newton helped inaugurate
the T-Mobile Arena and is
presently performing his “Up
Close and Personal” show at
Bally’s Las Vegas. His former
home, Casa de Shenandoah, is also available for
tours, featuring classic cars,
showbiz memorabilia, exotic
animals and more.
Master comedians and illusionists Penn & Teller’s continuing 15-year
run at off-Strip Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is among the longest-running
headline acts in Vegas history. The record of 27 years belongs to female
impersonator Frank “Queen of the Strip” Marino, star of Divas Las Vegas
at the Linq Theater.
There’s always room for old acts. Last October, The Rolling Stones,
all in their 70s save 69-year-old guitarist Ronnie Wood, rocked the
T-Mobile Arena. Earlier in the month, the band played a surprise show in
a Bellagio conference room for 1,200 attendees at Freightliner’s annual
customer appreciation dinner. The year before it was Paul McCartney,
who first played Vegas in 1964 with the Beatles.
Who will represent the past in, say, 2055, when Vegas turns 150?
Jennifer Lopez, for one, will be 86 that year.
– Jeff Heilman
THE ROLLING STONES, T-MOBILE ARENA
TONY BENNETT CHAMPAGNE TOAST, NEW YORK-NEW YORK CASINO