Stardust Resort & Casino
The Stardust Resort & Casino was a historic casino resort located on 63 acres along the famed Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The original resort was conceived and built by Tony Cornero, though he died in 1955 before construction was completed. When the hotel opened, it had the largest casino in Nevada, the largest swimming pool in Nevada and the largest hotel in the Las Vegas area.
The Stardust officially closed at 12:00 A.M. (Pacific Time) on November 1, 2006. It was imploded on March 13, 2007, around 2:33 A.M. In 2007, construction will begin on Echelon Place, which will replace The Stardust.
The progress of the demolition was photographically journaled at http://www.leavinglv.net a site devoted to preserving the memories of historic sites around Las Vegas.
The Stardust opened at 12:00pm on July 2, 1958. The attendees of the opening included governors, senators, city and county officials and Hollywood celebrities.
The entertainment registry started with the spectacular French production show Lido de Paris. Lido was conceived by Pierre-Louis Guerin and Rene Fraday, and staged by Donn Arden.
The opening night lounge lineup offered, from dusk to dawn, Billy Daniels, The Happy Jesters, The Vera Cruz Boys and the Jack Martin Quartet. Daniels became the first entertainer to sign a long-term residency contract in Las Vegas when he agreed to appear for 40 weeks per year for three years.
Tony Cornero's dream became a $10 million 1,065 room reality, charging just $6.00 a day. The resort featured the 105-foot long Big Dipper swimming pool, a 13,500 square foot lobby, a 16,500 square foot casino, and a decor featuring rich red and deep brown colors and indirect lighting.
The famed Stardust sign also became a symbol of Las Vegas. Young Electric Sign Company was hired to fabricate the sign. Kermit Wayne's design was selected for both the façade and the roadside signs. Although Dalitz said it was from his original plans, the sign was really part of Cornero's original concept.
The Stardust sign gave visitors a panoramic view of the solar system. At the sign's center sat a 16-foot diameter plastic model of the Earth, taken from the Sputnik. Cosmic rays of neon and electric light bulbs beamed from behind the model earth in all direction. Three-dimensional acrylic glass planets spun alongside 20 scintillating neon starbursts. Across the universe was a jagged galaxy of electric lettering spelling out "Stardust". The sign utilized 7,100 feet of neon tubing with over 11,000 bulbs along its 216 foot front. The "S" alone contained 975 lamps. At night the neon constellation was reportedly visible 60 miles away.
The roadside sign was freestanding with a circle constraining an amorphous cloud of cosmic dust circled by an orbit ring and covered in dancing stars. The hotel's name was nestled in a galactic cloud.
The Stardust also conveniently held Las Vegas' only first run a drive-in theatre in the rear of the resort.
The Stardust took over the closed Royal Nevada hotel-casino, remodeled the showroom, and converted it into a convention center and high-roller suite. From 1959 to 1964, this wing was occupied by the Stardust's "high roller" guests and The Stardust showgirls.
This Olympic size pool area was opened to the general public with the 1964 addition of the 9 story Stardust Tower that replaced half of the bungalow rooms.
In 1960, the resort added a new 4,800 square foot screen surface to its drive-in theatre. The same year, the Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant was opened, complete with a Tiki Bar, and a large stone Tiki head marking the entrance from the outside.
By 1961, Stardust's management included Credit Manager Hyman Goldbaum, a career criminal with seven known aliases, fourteen criminal convictions including an assault conviction, and a three year prison sentence for income tax invasion. Casino Manager and 5% owner Johnny Drew, was a veteran associate of Al Capone and was once fined for running a crooked dice game at an Elks convention, and general manager Morris Kleinman had served three years for tax evasion.
In 1964, with the addition of the nine-story tower (later called the East Tower), the room count increased to 1,470. For the next 5 years The Stardust was the leader in rooms until 1969 when The International opened. In 1964 the landmark façade was updated, expanding out into the parking lot by the highway. The new façade raised the Stardust's name, still in electra-jag letters, onto a pole above the exploding universe.
In 1965, the old circular sign was replaced by a new $500,000 roadside sign. The new sign's form was blurred by a scatter of star shapes, a shower of stardust. At night, incorporating neon and incandescent bulbs in the animation sequence, light fell from the stars, sprinkling from the top of the 188 foot tall sign down over the Stardust name.
In 1966, Howard Hughes attempted to buy the Stardust for $30.5 million but was thwarted by government officials on the grounds that his acquisition of any more gambling resorts might violate the Sherman Antitrust Act.
In November of 1969, 'Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation purchased the Stardust for an undisclosed amount.
In 1977, the Stardust went through another remodeling. The bombastic galactic theme was abandoned, though the roadside sign remained, and the façade was covered with animated neon tubing and trimmed with mirrored finish facets. The new porte cochere sparkled with 1,000 small incandescent bulbs. The encrustation of bulbs turned solid mass into ethereal form.
In 1980, the Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant closed. The giant stone Tiki head that marked the entrance was later moved to an island in an artificial lake at Sunset Park in Las Vegas.
In 1984, the Nevada Gaming Commission levied a $3 million fine against the resort for skimming, the highest fine ever issued by the commission. Suspicions, accusations and controversy about the Stardust's hidden ownership over the years was finally squelched when Sam Boyd's locally-based, squeaky-clean gaming company purchased the Stardust in March of 1985.
In 1991 a 32-story West Tower was added to the resort, overshadowing the older East Tower and bringing the total room count to 2,400. Two landscaped swimming pools, a golf course, and athletic facilities were also built. The renovation project totaled $300 million. That same year, the Stardust sign's Jetsonian lettering was replaced with a subdued Helvetica typeface.
At its peak size, the Stardust contained 100,000 square feet of gambling casino including 73 gaming tables, and 1,950 slot, keno and video poker machines. The conference center was 25,000 square feet and could accommodate meetings and banquets for groups of 25 to 2,000.
Lido de Paris was replaced in 1992 with Enter the Night, which closed in 1999.
Siegfried & Roy got their Las Vegas start at the Stardust with the help of mob associate Frank Rosenthal after he gave them Allen Glick's Rolls Royce.
Wayne Newton signed a ten-year deal with the Stardust in 1999, for a reported $25,000,000 per year, the largest entertainment contract in Las Vegas at the time. After five and half years, Newton ended his run in late April 2005, and George Carlin moved into his theater. Magician Rick Thomas premiered at the hotel on March 25, 2005.
During the Stardust Theater's last month of operation, legendary stars including Tim Conway and Harvey Korman gave performances. The last acts to perform in the Stardust Theater were Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme; the theatre formally closed on October 28, 2006.
When first built, the Stardust sign was the world's largest electric sign. The Neon Museum and Boyd Gaming have arranged to preserve the world famous sign.
The Royal Nevada was the previous hotel on part of the Stardust site.
The Royal Nevada opened north of the New Frontier on April 19, 1955, as the Showplace of Showtown, U.S.A. The resort's crowning glory was the crown which sat on top of the resort.
The night before the opening, 'atomic soldiers' were treated to a pre-opening party.
The Royal Nevada was plagued with financial problems from the start.
While this resort seemed to "disappear completely", swallowed in 1959 by the Stardust becoming the Stardust's Convention Center, portions of the two story bungalow style Royal Nevada wing and pool remained in use up until 2006.
According to a news article in the Las Vegas Sun, the last dice throw at a Stardust craps table was by tourist Jimmy Kumihiro of Hawaii. When the casino was officially closed at 12 Noon, the Bobbie Howard Band led the customers out the doors for the last time (in a conga line) to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In", and the hotel/casino complex closed forever after a 48 year run of continuous 24 hour operation. Outside, the loudspeakers were playing the John Lennon song "Nobody Told Me", which contains the line Nobody told me there'd be days like these / Strange days indeed.
At the time of its closing, The Stardust Showroom starred The Magic of Rick Thomas, the most successful daytime show in Las Vegas history.
A few months later, the Stardust Resort was imploded on Tuesday March 13, 2007 at 2:33 a.m. It was a truly historic implosion, with fireworks prior to the building's tumble.
* 25,000 square feet Convention Center
* Car rental—onsite
* Dining—9 places to choose from
* Fitness Center
* Pavilion/Exhibit Center—40,500 square feet
* Race and sports book
* Swimming pools
* Wedding chapel
It can be seen in the movie Mars Attacks where it is damaged by the martians.
The large neon sign can be seen in several scenes in the movie Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
The book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas written by Nicholas Pileggi and Larry Shandling and the movie Casino based on Pileggi's and Shandling's book chronicles the days when The Stardust Casino - and two other Las Vegas casinos - were run by Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal and Anthony 'The Ant' Spilotro on behalf of the Chicago and Kansas City Mafia during the 1960's and 1970's.
Rosenthal was eventually denied a gaming license and placed in the Nevada Gaming Control Board's black book and Spiltoro and his brother were found dead, buried half naked in a corn field in Indiana.
In the film Robert De Niro portrayed the head of The Stardust, in the person of Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, a composite of Rosenthal's personality. Joe Pesci portrayed Nicky Santoro, a composite of Spilotro's personality. The name of the casino was changed to "Tangiers" and was shown being across the street from the Dunes, several blocks away from the site of The Stardust. However, snippets of the Hoagy Carmichael song Stardust can be heard on the soundtrack, giving a subtle hint as to the casino's true identity.
The book, "The Stardust of Yesterday: Reflections on a Las Vegas Legend" written by Heidi Knapp Rinella, edited by Mike Weatherford and foreword by Siegfried and Roy is a complete history of the hotel and casino. Heidi Knapp Rinella and Mike Weatherford are both staff writers for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Siegfried and Roy had their debut at the Stardust in the 1970's and tell of their many memories.
The book "The Odds: One Season, Three Gamblers and the Death of Their Las Vegas," by Chad Millman, chronicled a year in the lives of Stardust race & sports book manager Joe Lupo and assistant manager Bob Scucci, as well as professional sports bettor Alan Boston and wannabe sports bettor Rodney Bosnich. The Stardust was chosen due to its status at the time as the "home of the opening line."
The camp classic movie Showgirls was partly filmed on location and set in The Stardust Resort and Casino. The films revolves around the battles to be the top Stardust showgirl.
The Vince Vaughn film Swingers had scenes set and filmed at The Stardust Resort and Casino.