What is it about Las Vegas that captivates us? Is it how the skim worked at the Stardust and how millions of dollars walked out the door uncounted? Or what really happened when Frank Sinatra threw a chair at the casino boss of the Sands? Did you ever hear the story about how some very bad Vegas guys rigged the gin rummy games at the Friars Club and took a bunch of famous people to the cleaners? Howard Hughes had some weird notions about the Silver Slipper and put his money where his paranoia was. It's all Vegas, and it is fascinating history.
Vegas in the '50s and '60s was indeed another world. Those were the days when small-time gamblers like me, in town with my wife for a weekend of shows and great food, could ride down the elevator at one of the Strip hotels with Lucille Ball, have an A table at the Versailles Room at the Riviera to see Rowan and Martin, with Edie Adams opening, and laugh until it hurt when Buddy Hackett played the old Congo Room at the Sahara.
Behind the scenes, the Mob ran Vegas in those days. And stories abound. Through years of study and interviews and just talking to people from all strata of Las Vegas comes this book, a glimpse into the money, mayhem, and murders of early Vegas.
On opening night at the Cal-Neva Lodge, Sinatra's guests included Marilyn Monroe, Joe Kennedy and his son, John F. Kennedy. Also there that weekend were Johnny Roselli and Sam "Momo" Giancana. Uninvited and hiding up in the hills around the casino lodge was an FBI surveillance team with long-range lensesFrom the chapter Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge