Casinos come and go leaving behind a rich history of showbusiness.
Casinos come and go leaving behind a rich history of showbusiness.
The Flamingo sits on land once owned by Billy Wlkerson who was the owner of the Hollywood Reporter as well as some very popular nightclubs in the Sunset Strip: Cafe Trocadero, Ciro's and La Rue's.
Entertainment was to be the highlight of this new resort which was located so far south that it seemed to be in the boondocks!
Running short of money and materials in the post war boom, Wilkerson was "persuaded" to accept much needed cash and involvement from Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and his Mafia brothers. Wilkerson retained only a one-third interest in the Flamingo, yet he had total operational oversight, therby ensuring that entertainment would be the major component at The Flamingo.
Let the party begin:
The splashy opening "stars present" included Cuban band leader Xavier Cugat (whose band provided the music), George Jessel, George Raft, Rose Marie, and Jimmy Durante as entertainment, with guests including Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Cesar Romero, Joan Crawford, and others was a flop.
The opening show was a success though Durante sang, joked and klutzed before demolishing a $1,600 piano.
A second opening night was scheduled on December 28, 1946, guests included Veronica Lake, Lucille Ball, George Rafts, Sonny Tufts, Eleanor Parker, Bill Holden, Brian Bowlevy and June Haver.
During the time of the third opening. Local 369 passed the six day law for musicians and raised wages to $90 per week for class A spots.
When Bugsy Siegel found out he stormed into the union office, he didn't care about the raise, but the law forced one of his main attractions, Xavier Cugat, into taking breaks while a local relief band took over. The 369's were adamant and the law and pay scale remained.
In 1947 comedian-musician Spike Jones, whose instruments included, Horns, Bells and wash boards, appeared in the Flamingo showroom, they were billed as "the Musical Depreciation Revue".
In June of 1947 Siegel was killed and the Hotel was immediately taken over by Moe Sedway, Morris Rosen, and Gus Greenbaum.
Showcased in the Flamingo Room were Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra, Danny Thomas, Mitzi Green, Jimmy Durante and Lena Horne. Horne was billed as "one of America's brightest new singing sensations". She won widespread fan acceptance as she sang The Lady Is a Tramp and Birth of the Blues.
In 1950 Harpo Marx gave Croquet lessons on the Flamingo grounds. Entertainment in the 1950's included Louis Armstrong and his All Stars. In September1952 Spike Jones bought a new truck for his "Musical Insanities" show. On the underside of the truck was a large sign which read "You have just been run over by the craziest show on earth". In 1953 the Flamingo Room showcased the 3 Stooges, the Andrew Sisters, Pear Bailey, Alan King, Shelley Winters and Zsa Zsa Gabor and her French Revue. In 1954 Mickey Rooney and Dick Contino also performed the Flamingo Room.
During 1955 it was reported that the Flamingo spent more than a million dollars each year for entertainment appearing in the Flamingo room but guests could see these stars for the price of a soft drink. There was a revolving stage within a circular bar where entertainment played from dusk to dawn. It was advertised as "Every night is New Years at the Flamingo".
Also in 1955 after every show the Ritz Brothers would go to the Casino and entertain slot players with one liners, as well as performing mini shows up and down the aisles. As long as the Casino was crowded, they would keep performing. Once the public found out the Casino was swamped with patrons to see the free show.
In 1957 Judy Garland surprised everyone during her show by introducing her 11 year old daughter, Liza Minnelli, sitting in the audience. Liza came up on stage and sang with her mother.
During 1957 Flamingo showcased, among others, Ana Maria Alberghetti, the Mills brothers, Dinah Shore, Alan King Pearl Bailey and the Ink Spots.
In September of 1958, Jerry Lewis was in the audience of a Harry James Show when he bounced up on stage to "help out". Lewis and James then proceeded to tear the place apart. The high spot was their challenge Trumpet work on James's classic Two O'clock Jump. In addition, Lewis gave the folks a better look at his instrumental versatility when he blasted a few true ones on Saxophone and Trombone.
Peggy Lee gave a cocktail party for the opening of the Harry James Band. Celebrities and guests jammed the lounge Jack Benny, George Burns/Gracie Allen, Lena Horne, Milton and Ruth Berle, Dorothy Collins and Jack carter attended.
In October of 1959, Flamingo became the home of the Radio Station KBMI with announcer Bob Joyce. Sara Vaughan, Andy Williams and Count Basie all performed in the Stage Bar.
In 1960 Gary Crosby was unable to perform his show due to a chronic throat ailment, Bobby Darin who was at the time performing at the Sahara, ran over to cover for him so as not to disappoint the audiences. In a similar turn of events in 1961, Jane Froman had to cancel her shows due to the Flu. Sarah Vaughan volunteered to help out then Andy Williams rushed over from the Desert Inn between shows. In April of 1961 Steve Allen/Jayne Meadows broke all records when they performed at the resort. Vic Damone recorded a live album at the Flamingo that same year. Mitzi Gaynor's July opening was attended by Connie Stevens, Betty Grable, Donald O'Connor, Sid Miller and Julie Stein.
January 18th 1962 was a big day at the Flamingo. Sarah Vaughan and Lionel Hampton opened in the Driftwood Lounge and Bobby Darin and Myron Cohen in the Flamingo Room. Following the second show, a party was held in honor of these stars and also as a farewell to Harry James and Mitzi Gaynor. Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra was driving his audiences wild during his performance, there just wasn't enough room to accommodate his fans, they were dancing in the aisles with his Flamingo Twist a new dance rage that he introduced. Ethel Merman also opened in 1962.
When Robert Goulet appeared in 1963 he was greeted by 8 large bags of fan mail.
Bobby Darin recorded his "The Curtains Fall" Live at the Flamingo, which included hits such as Mac the Knife, Hello Young Lover and Yellow Roses.
1964 Phyllis Diller, Norm Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald/Roy Eldridge, Robert Goulet and Jackie Mason were among those that performed in the Flamingo Room, while in the Driftwood Lounge, Fats Domino, Harry James and Tommy Dorsey were performing.
On his opening night in 1966, Milton Berle guested the wives of the Vietnam war soldiers. Also in 1966 Joan Rivers, Jack Jones/George Carlin, and the Supremes all performed at the Flamingo Room.
French Singer/Composer Charles Aznavour performed in 1967 and honeymooned for a week at the resort with his third bride Ulla Thorsell, the Swedish model.
When Kirk Kerkorian purchased the property for 13 million he budgeted 2.5 million for renovation. A 300 seat Theater with a $50,000 sound system was added. Kerkorian also changed the entertainment to make the Flamingo a mecca for some of the best pop groups of the 1960's, including Kenny Rogers and Spiral Starecase.
1968 was brought in with the Wayne and Jerry Newton dinner show. Also May of 1968 the the Flamingo show lounge opened to replace the Driftwood Lounge, this is the theater that is on property tdoay. The new stage was reputed to be the largest of any of the other casino showrooms. Pat Boone, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, and the Temptations were added to the Flamingo Room entertainment.
Due to Tom Jones' reputation for heating up a room, the Flamingo gave the press licorice candy "fever Pills" to combat the Tom Jones "Fever" the following year Tom Jones recorded his Tom Jones Live at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.
1970 saw the addition of Sonny and Cher, Marty Allen, and Pat Cooper.
John Rowles opening night in 1971 was attended by 41 different celebrities including Ruth Buzzi, Eddye Adams, Sammy Shore and Robert Lansing. The name of the Hotel was formally changed to the Flamingo Hilton.
During Lynn Carters (the female impersonator) tenure, he needed the entire dressing room that was used for the line dancers for his gowns used in his impressions. Phyllis Diller loved the gown that was used during his impression of her that the next time he saw her on TV she was wearing a copy of it.
1974 the Dick Clark show was showcased in the Flamingo Theater, while the Casino Theater showcased the Checkmates, Fats Domino, Della Reese, Kenny Rogers and the First Addition and Dyanna Whitman. The following year Gladys Knight and the pips, Connie Stevens, Lovelace Watkins and Bobbie Vinton performed.
In 1976 Hooray '76 and Playgirls on Ice was at the Flamingo Room.
From 1979 until 1981 Flamingo showcased Razzle-Dazzle followed by City Lites in 1982 featuring that years world Pairs Ice Skating champions Jack Campbell and Rulona Rolland. City Lites played for 12 years through 1994. In 1994 the smaller Bugsy's Celebrity Theater showcased American Superstars.
1995 the Flamingo introduced their new show The Great Radio City Spectacular starring Susan Anton and the Rockettes. December of 1999 marked the 3,000 performance of the show.
The 200 seat Bugsy Celebrity Theater showcased Twist 'n' Shout and opened Forever Plaid which continued to run for six years until its final closing in 2001
Darren Romeo who was 24 in 1999, but looked 14 years old, received the World Magic award for best up-and-coming Magician. He performed in the afternoon in the main showroom
Every Holiday season the Radio City Rockettes performed a special show which included segments such as The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and the Christmas Waltz.
March of 2000 Buddy Greco, his swinging dance band and Leslie Anders appeared in the Flamingo bringing back the Big Band Music. Fans counted on surprise celebrity guests visiting this show, Tommy Smothers showed up and displayed his yo-yo skills.When the doors opened at 7:30pm free dance lessons were available. In June 2000, the Sunset Ballroom showcased the lead singers for The Association, the Four Preps, the Diamonds and the Dells. In July, Foreigner and Damon Wayans was showcased. In August of 2000 The Flamingo opened a new old show "Bottoms up" starring Breck Wall. This was the only topless afternoon show in Las Vegas. Bottoms Up has been awarded 34 Best Show of the Year awards. The show had kept it's look fresh since 1959. In November 2000 a new multi million dollar show Bill Acosta: Lasting impressions opened with 12 topless dancers backing up Acosta with the Joey singer Orchestra.
March 20th 2001 Forever Plaid was replaced by Second City in the 200 seat Bugsy Celebrity Theater. Second City's alumni had included Alan Alda, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Meyers, Gilda Radnor, Joan Rivers, George Segal and Martin Short.
In 2002 and 2003 the Flamingo Showroom showcased Gladys Knight
George Wallace began in the showroom in 2004 and continues to perform there today.
2005 Gladys Knight, George Wallace and Frankie Valli all shared the Main Showroom. Toni Braxton replaced Gladys Knight and performed for two years.
Adult show X Burlesque played late shows in the second City room and comedian Vinnie Favarito the earlier slot. April 21st 2008 Nathan Burton opened his new daytime show in the Flamingo Room. Nathan performed at the V Theater for two years before moving to the Flamingo.
On September 9th, 2008, Donny and Marie Osmond began a six month run as the new headlining act at the Flamingo. On October 27, 2008, the Flamingo announced that Donny and Marie's contract had been extended until October 2010.
If you have any information about the history of entertainment at this property please do contact us, we aim to update this section of the site as frequently as possible so that we can ensure as accurate as possible correct historic information.
|Hotel Name :||FLAMINGO HOTEL AND CASINO|
|Address :||3555 Las Vegas Blvd South|
|City/Region :||Las Vegas|
- Flamingo Show Room
Flamingo Show Room
Flaming Show room at the Flaming Hilton Hotel Las Vegas