Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Sahara Casino-Hotel

The end of an era?

On December 15, 2009, it was announced that 2 of the 3 guest room towers were closing indefinitely, due to weak demand. The Sahara Casino-Hotel, which opened in 1952, was the setting for the original 1960 Oceans Eleven film (along with the Flamingo and Riviera casinos), and the only Las Vegas resort still standing with its original show room where legendary performers from the heyday of lounge acts performed: Louis Prima, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Hackett, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis, Jr. In 1963 the Moroccan-themed Sahara was a film location for Viva Las Vegas!, starring Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley.

In November, 2009, a “Rat Pack” tribute show opened in the original Congo Room lounge (nightly performances at 7:00 pm). Rush to see it while you can!

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the hottest comedy act of the early 1950s, and were regular performers at the Congo Room at the Sahara. They had an acrimonious split in 1956; however, several (infrequent) reunion performances took place, as indicated by the photo above, in which Martin appears with Lewis at the Sahara, which hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Marathon.

Those iconic camels still guard the driveway. From time to time they are given new paint colors, however.

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