FLASHBACKS: HEFNER’S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE, ANGEL LOSES COOL,
April 9, 2008: Hugh Hefner turns 82, with Las Vegas festivities marked by a surprise appearance by Pamela Anderson. During a party at a Palms supersuite named for the Playboy founder, Anderson strides in carrying a cake on a tray, wearing high heels – and nothing else.
April 10, 1959: Three robbers break into the house of Vera Krupp on a ranch outside Las Vegas and rip the huge diamond ring off her finger. The FBI recovers it in New Jersey six weeks later and the thieves go to prison. After her death in 1967, Richard Burton buys the Krupp Diamond for Elizabeth Taylor.
April 11, 2008: Angry that his girlfriend, Veronica Grabowski, had been eliminated from the Miss USA pageant at Planet Hollywood, volatile illusionist Criss Angel flips the bird on national TV. Then he confronted a local entertainment columnist and warned him not to write another word about him “or you’ll need an eyepatch over your other eye.”
April 12, 1987: After a concert in Las Vegas, Bono and The Edge strut down Fremont Street, playing, singing and hugging passers-by as they film the video of their U2 hit I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Seen on Golden Nugget’s marquee: The Checkmates and Kristine W and the Sting.
April 13, 2007: Cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs, out with friends at the Bellagio’s Light nightclub, meets Tiger Woods. She says they begin an affair that lasts until Tiger’s notorious 2009 car crash that reveals his serial cheating. She proves her claim by releasing scores of text messages from the golfer.
April 14, 1989: Robbie Knievel succeeds where his dad Evel failed 22 years earlier, safely soaring 150 feet over a fountain in the Caesars Palace parking lot before cable TV viewers who paid $14.95 for the four-second spectacle. The same jump had landed Evel in a 29-day coma.
April 15, 2011: The U.S. Postal Service admits that its new Lady Liberty stamp is based on the Statue of Liberty replica at Las Vegas’ New York New York hotel/casino, not the real thing.
JOE LOUIS’ FUNERAL, LIBERACE OPENS THE RIVIERA
April 16, 1964: Breck Wall brings his comedy/vaudeville/burlesque show “Bottoms Up” from Dallas to Las Vegas, debuting at The Castaways Hotel, where The Mirage now stands. The blackout sketch revue plays many venues over four decades before Wall – an old pal of Jack Ruby’s – dies in 2010.
April 17, 1981: 3,000 people pack Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion for the funeral of Joe Louis, the legendary boxer who worked as a greeter at the hotel for the last decade of his life. “Howard Hughes dies, with all his billions, not a tear,” Muhammad Ali says. “Joe Louis, everybody cried.”
April 18, 2012: The new Hangover Heaven bus rolling through Las Vegas garners international publicity for its medically supervised intravenous treatment to make last night go away. But Scientific American has a different take: the bus “is a moving binge drinking ad,” grouses the magazine’s blog.
April 19, 1939: Fred Martens, also known as “Fritz the Rooster,” passes into poker legend when he collapses and dies during a game in Las Vegas. The players at the table play a few more hands with Fred in his seat. When a doctor arrives, the players pick up the table and carry on elsewhere.
April 20, 1955: The Riviera, the first high-rise hotel and casino on The Strip, opens with Liberace as the headliner. The flamboyant pianist becomes a regular there, with a $50,000 per week salary.
April 21, 1988: Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart, a former Miss South Dakota, makes her Vegas debut, singing and dancing at the opening act for comedian David Brenner at the Golden Nugget. Audiences are friendly, but reviews are mixed, and she doesn’t become a regular headliner.
—Researched and written by Mike Precker