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Billy Ingram

Las Vegas Legends

Las Vegas in the Fifties

Las Vegas in the Fifties

by Billy Ingram

The nifty fifties saw the rise of the legacy hotels and casinos that forever solidified Las Vegas' reputation as an epicenter of entertainment excitement.

In 1950 the Las Vegas Strip was host to a million tourists, by the middle of the decade over 8 million people were visiting Las Vegas annually, pumping $200 million into casinos. A great deal more than that goes today in the direction of online casinos like

By 1951, world famous hotel / casinos the Thunderbird Hotel, the Desert Inn, and the Silver Slipper had joined the El Rancho, the New Frontier, and the Flamingo on the Strip. Atomic Liquors was issued the city's first liquor license when the bar opened in 1952. Having been restored to its original appearance, Atomic Liquors has been seen in multiple TV shows and movies, including "Casino" and "The Hangover."

These neon attractions were quickly followed by the Sahara (1952), the Sands (1952), the Royal Nevada (1955), the Riviera (1955), the Dunes (1955), the Hacienda (1956), the Tropicana (1957), and the Stardust (1958).

The Stardust brought in the lavish French production show, Lido de Paris, in 1958. The fabulous illuminated Las Vegas sign board designed by Betty Willis, titled "Welcome to Las Vegas Nevada", was installed in 1959, it has since become THE iconic symbol of Las Vegas. The design was donated to the city copyright-free.

Due to this rapid expansion, by 1960 the number of tourists flocking to Sin City grew to 10 million and the mob was raking in millions in uncounted cash, skimmed off the top. Veteran Vegas entertainers actually missed the days of a mob controlled Strip. "The boys were gentlemen at all times to me and treated me like a Queen," said singer Rose Marie. "It was like a family. You could go to any of the hotels, and you didn't pay for anything. If you wanted to go to the bar and get a couple of drinks and they knew you were working the Flamingo, you'd get no check."

Another reason people were attracted to this desert resort in the 1950s was an odd one - an opportunity to witness government nuclear tests in person. There is no estimate as to how many lost their lives to cancer because of this.

The Little Church of the West, Vegas' first wedding chapel, married its first couples in 1942. Originally part of the long-gone Last Frontier Hotel, the chapel was moved in 1996 to its current location on the south end of the Strip as the city successfully marketed itself as the "Wedding Capital of the World" where numerous celebrity couples got hitched - Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward tied the knot there as did Judy Garland and David Rose.

By 2018, over 74,000 marriage licenses were issued in Clark County, Nevada. One key reason - the average wedding in 2020 cost over $50,000. Today a wedding package in Vegas can cost as little as $299.00.

Enjoy these scenes from a by-gone era: A Last Frontier: Las Vegas, 1950

Las Vegas 1955 ~ A Sunny Drive Down the Strip ~ Old Vegas!


The History Of Las Vegas Documentary by the Las Vegas Sun originally in 11 parts:




Video on Demand Rent or Buy

Entertainment Collectables


HISTORY.COM: A desert metropolis built on gambling, vice and other forms of entertainment, in just a century of existence Las Vegas has drawn millions of visitors and trillions of dollars in wealth to southern Nevada. The city was founded by ranchers and railroad workers but quickly found that its greatest asset was not its springs but its casinos. Las Vegas's embrace of Old West-style freedoms—gambling and prostitution—provided a perfect home for East Coast organized crime. Beginning in the 1940s, money from drugs and racketeering built casinos and was laundered within them. Visitors came to partake in what the casinos offered: low-cost luxury and the thrill of fantasies fulfilled.


Stuff you might not find at other web sites - Vegas Legends collects obscure stories about the greatest entertainers of all time! With rare performances from the casino showrooms and from the world of Television.

Frank Sinatra

Dean Martin

Sammy Davis Jr Story

Dean Martin Live in Las Vegas

Frank Sinatra
with Dean Martin

Playing with The Rat Pack 1960s & 70s
with Dean Martin

Las Vegas in 1977

John Oliver: Las Vegas Is the Worst Place on Earth!

Jerry Vale

More Jerry Vale

George Burns

Don Rickles' Last Carson Appearance

Joan Rivers vs Johnny Carson

Angie Dickinson

Remembering Bobby Darin

Who Killed Elvis?

Viva Las Vegas!

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Las Vegas1967


Las Vegas in the 1950s

MORE Las Vegas in the 1950s

Lola Falana

Don Rickles

Don Rickles' Last Show

Don Rickles vs Merv Griffin

Sonny & Cher

The Supremes

Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Louis Prima

Pat Cooper

Johnny Carson

Mort Lindsey


TV's The Las Vegas Show

Red Buttons

Ernest Borgnine on Frank & Dean

Harlan Ellison vs Frank Sinatra

Demond Wilson on The Dean Martin Roasts, Las Vegas, and Walking Out on Sanford & Son

Liberace, Frank Sinatra, and Jackie Gleason Attempted an Intervention on Elvis in Las Vegas

What Las Vegas Looked Like Under Lockdown

Sammy Davis Jr.'s Home Was Looted!

Very Revealing Interview with Sammy Davis Jr.

Las Vegas in the 1940s

Frank Sinatra's Last Major Interview

Portrait of Frank Sinatra in 1959
Frank Sinatra in
Monte Carlo 1959

Drummer Hal Blaine on Recording with The Rat Pack

Marty Allen Almost Cost Me My Foot!

Home Movies of Las Vegas During The Strip’s Golden Age

Donny & Marie Are Calling It Quits

Totie Fields

Sinatra's First Palm Springs Home

Phyllis Diller: An Appreciation

Steve Allen

Rich Little

Betty White on Don Rickles

Totie Fields

Sinatra's First Palm Springs Home

Phyllis Diller: An Appreciation

Steve Allen

Rich Little

Betty White on Don Rickles

Elvis' Background Singers

Wayne Newton

George Carlin

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

Redd Foxx

Las Vegas & The Mob

Henny Youngman

Rodney Dangerfield

How Las Vegas Has Changed Since the 1970s

How Las Vegas Has Changed Since the 1960s

More on How Las Vegas Has Changed Over the Years

Vegas Fashion

Joan Rivers

Las Vegas Postcards

TV's The Magician and Las Vegas

BONUS: Garry Shandling in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Legends

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