Where else will you find a magical dragon with a dog under the same roof as some of the most beautiful drag queens?
Seventy five. That’s seven and a half decades, three quarters of a century or in layman’s terms, a long freakin’ time. That is how long the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Resort has been welcoming guests on the Strip. And as we have all become accustomed to in this city, there is no party like a Las Vegas party. The resort is marking this momentous occasion with “75 Years of Fab.”
Before the confetti cakes the casino floor in celebration of the long storied hotel, let’s go back to its beginning.
(Cue the drop down to black.)
(Fade up on a black and white mid-1940s Las Vegas.
Bring in a dramatic announcer voice.)
The “75 Years of Fab” property was brought to the Strip by Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his business partner, Meyer Lansky. The idea was to bring Hollywood to the high desert. With it a culture of glamour, gangsters and gambling was born.
Before the Flamingo, Bugsy’s Vegas venture began through his ownership of the El Cortez Hotel. He and his “business associates” talked their way into partnering with the original owner, Billy Wilkerson, on the property that now marks the center of the Strip.
Rising prices in building supplies after the war along with the reported mismanagement by Bugsy made the original investment of $1.5 million turn into $6 million on the property. Not a good sign of things to come. Bugsy would name the hotel, The Flamingo, after his girlfriend, Hollywood actress Virginia Hill, which was a nod to her red hair and long legs.
A ‘Flock’ Turned ‘Flop’
The gamble was a big one, but the hopes of having L.A. flock to the desert was even higher. Many of entertainment’s biggest stars were invited. However, opening weekend did little to change their luck.
If a rainy L.A. awards show on the red carpet has taught us anything, it is that Hollywood does not like bad weather. And it was precisely Mother Nature that kept much of Tinseltowns invited guests from becoming visitors to Vegas on opening weekend. The Flamingo reportedly lost $300,000 in the first week. It was shut down two weeks after opening.
Months later, the property would reopen and Wilkerson was kindly given his hat and shown the door. Though a profit began to roll in, Bugsy’s “business associates” were evidently unconvinced that they were given a fair share. In June of 1947, Bugsy was gunned down in Virginia Hill’s California home. The case remains unsolved.
(Fade to black.)
A Look At 1946 And Beyond
(Cue montage of neon lights and showgirls)
Since then, the Flamingo has gone on to be front and center of the Las Vegas Strip. They have had a front row seat to the comings and goings of other properties around them. In that time, they have housed several legendary residencies from Donny and Marie to Wayne Newton (his show is currently on pause while he recovers from a back injury).
Heck, they have even become an established wildlife habitat for flamingos. Where else in the world can you see a magical dragon with a dog sidekick (Piff the Magic Dragon) and the most gorgeous drag queens ever strutting their stuff all under one roof? I would bet $1.5 million that only in Vegas will you find a dragon, a dog and a drag show all in a single building.
To celebrate the resort’s 75th anniversary, there are some pretty suite/sweet deals you can partake in.
Join the social media sweepstakes with the #75YearsofFab hashtag. To enter, all you have to do is share a creative photo of your favorite memory that took place at Flamingo Las Vegas on Twitter or Instagram, then tag @FlamingoVegas with the hashtags #75YearsofFab and #Sweepstakes. You have from now through December 13 for a chance to score a free getaway.
The winner will get a two-night stay in one of their 3,500 guest rooms and suites plus a flockin’ enormous round of other goodies (including show tickets). There are also spa deals, show deals and new spouse deals (wedding) running now through the end of the year.
If you should find yourself at the “Fab” property, give a look-see for the employees who have nested at the Flamingo almost since the beginning.
Elpidio (Pete) Landaz, a banquet server who has dedicated 50 years of service at the Flamingo.
Inside the kitchen is James Beets. He has called the Flamingo his home for 48 years. He met his wife at the resort, and they have been working together for nearly four decades.
Or, Alvin Lyons, a table games dealer who has interacted with many celebrity guests over the past 45 years. Imagine the stories that he could tell you!
Shows Residing At the Flamingo
“Piff the Magic Dragon” at the Flamingo Showroom
“RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!” at the Flamingo Showroom
“X Burlesque” at the X Burlesque Theater
If the last 75 years of the Flamingo has taught us anything, it’s that the best just keeps on comin’.
(Fade to black, cue house lights)