May 20, 1964: Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley as a race-car driver...
May 20, 1964: Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley as a race-car driver who turns to singing to pay for a new engine and hooks up with Ann Margaret along the way, debuts in theaters. Made for about $1 million, it grosses $9.5 million worldwide and is regarded as one of Elvis’ best movies.
May 21, 2008: Former NBA star and current TV analyst Charles Barkley pays a $400,000 gambling debt to the Wynn Las Vegas casino. Barkley, who once estimated he’s lost $10 million gambling over the years, could have faced criminal charges if he hadn’t settled up with Wynn.
May 22, 1998: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the long-awaited movie version of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo memoir, opens with a cast including Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz and Benicio Del Toro. Reviews are mixed and it’s not a big hit, but the film gradually becomes a cult favorite.
May 23, 1955: The Dunes Hotel opens at the southernmost point of the Strip and develops into one of the poshest resorts of its era, with a 35-foot-high fiberglass sultan guarding the entrance. Steve Wynn buys it in 1992, stages the city’s first spectacular implosion and builds the Bellagio on the site.
May 24, 1955: The Moulin Rouge opens as the first racially integrated hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Previously, blacks were welcomed as performers, but not as guests. Moulin Rouge went bankrupt seven months later and was converted into an apartment complex. It burns down in 2003.
May 25, 1956: Silver Palace opens in downtown Las Vegas, featuring the city’s first set of “motor stairs” – as the newspaper referred to the escalator – connecting the upstairs casino to the downstairs restaurant. Today it’s called Mermaids and specializes in 99-cent fried Twinkies.
May 26,1967: Two men are arrested for planting a bomb in a 12th-floor room at the Sahara Hotel and demanding $75,000 for instructions on how to find and dismantle it. The bomb doesn’t explode and the would-be blackmailers get five-year prison terms.
(Research by Mike Precker)