FLASHBACKS: LARRY KING’S SIN CITY DEBUT, TYSON BITES HOLYFIELD’S EAR AND LAS VEGAS’ MOST FAMOUS ‘HANGOVER'
June 18, 2008: NFL star receiver Javon Walker is released from Sunrise Medical Center, one day after being found unconscious on a Las Vegas street. He admits he was drunk after a night of partying, got into a car with men he didn’t know, and was robbed and beaten. The attacker gets life in prison.
June 19, 2009: Talk-show legend Larry King, 75, makes his debut as a Vegas headliner, spinning show-biz yarns and telling jokes at the Wynn Encore Theater. His wife, singer Shawn King, opens the show and returns to the stage for the big finale: a duet with Larry of “Makin’ Whoopee.”
June 20, 1947: Bugsy Siegel (born Benjamin Siegelbaum), the mobster whose Flamingo Hotel is regarded as the first luxury resort in Las Vegas, is murdered in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 42. The killing is widely believed to be a Mob hit, but no arrests are ever made.
June 21, 1950: Hank Greenspun publishes the first edition of his newly bought Las Vegas Free Press, vowing to “always fight for progress and reform.” He renamed the paper the Sun and becomes a Vegas power broker as a crusading journalist and real estate developer. He dies in 1989.
June 22, 2002: Unbeaten WBO Super flyweight champion Pedro Alcazar loses to Fernando Montiel in a 6th round TKO at the MGM Grand. Alcazar seems OK, but 40 hours later he collapses and dies of a brain hemorrhage. The long time lapse between injury and symptoms shocks the boxing world.
June 23, 2001: In his first fight in the USA, WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Manny Pacquaio defeats Wethya Sakmuangklang of South Africa by a TKO at the MGM Grand. It’s the first of many bouts in Las Vegas for the Filipino megastar, who’s also a singer, actor and politician.
June 24, 2000: After a sold-out concert with her fellow Dixie Chicks, lead singer Natalie Maines marries actor Adrian Pasdar in a $55, post-midnight ceremony at The Little White Wedding Chapel. Then they go out to gamble with the other Chicks and win $740.
June 25, 2000: In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, 40-foot neon cowboy icon Vegas Vic celebrates his renovation by telling a reporter, “I’ve had more work done on me than Cher.” Usually Vic, who has graced Fremont Street since 1951, just says, “Howdy, podner!”
June 26, 1955: On a train trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Lauren Bacall dubs the Hollywood clique led by Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra the “rat pack.” The term sticks to Sinatra and buddies Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop in their Vegas heyday five years later.
June 27, 2002: John Entwistle, bass player for The Who, dies in his suite at the Hard Rock Hotel, on the eve of the legendary rock group’s latest U.S. tour. He had spent the night with a groupie, who woke to find him cold and unresponsive. A cocaine-induced heart attack did him in.
June 28, 1997: The second heavyweight fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield at the MGM Grand Garden Arena ends after three rounds when Tyson is disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ears.
June 29, 2005: Ivana Trump announces she’ll team with developer Victor Altomare to build an 80-story condominium complex on The Strip called “Ivana – The Supertower.” Ex-husband Donald, who’s building his own tower down the street, scoffs – and he’s right. The plan collapses just six months later.
June 30, 2006: Love, the Cirque du Soleil production featuring music of the Beatles, stages a gala opening at the Mirage. The unprecedented Beatles family reunion in attendance includes Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Cynthia and Julian Lennon, Olivia and Dhani Harrison, and George Martin.
July 1, 1976: Neil Diamond makes his Las Vegas debut with a concert at the Aladdin. He would not make regular visits to the city until two decades later.
July 2, 1958: Lido de Paris, a spinoff of the spectacular French musical revue, opens at the Stardust. It’s an immediate sensation, continuously one-upping itself with topless showgirls, an ice rink, spectacles ranging from waterfalls to the sinking of the Titanic to fireworks – and runs for nearly 33 years.
July 3, 2012: With three fives on the final hand, Antonio Esfandiari wins $18,346,673, the richest top prize in poker history, at the One Drop Texas Hold’em tournament at the Rio. The three-day event with a $1 million buy-in draws 48 players and raises millions for charity.
July 4, 1981: The Hole in the Wall Gang, run by mobster Tony (the Ant) Spilotro and specializing in robbing hotel rooms and homes of rich gamblers, is caught breaking into Bertha’s, a Las Vegas furniture and jewelry store, after one of the gang rats them out. The Mob has Spilotro killed five years later.
July 5, 2009: The Hangover, a crude, hilarious comedy about three friends who take their buddy to Vegas for a bachelor weekend – then can’t remember where they left him – opens to huge business. The worldwide gross tops $460 million, prompting a sequel set in Thailand.
July 6, 2007: Hal Lubarsky finishes 197th in the World Series of Poker at the Rio, winning $51,398 – and becoming the first blind player ever to cash in at the tournament. Two aides read the cards for him. When he finally busts out, the crowd rewards him with a standing ovation.
July 7, 2007: Thousands of couples eager for a lucky 7/7/07 wedding day jam Las Vegas wedding chapels, resulting in long lines, frayed tempers and group ceremonies. The Las Vegas Sun calls it “a bridal running of the bulls.”
July 8, 2008: Concern for Michael Jackson’s health spikes a day after the pop star is photographed with his children at a Las Vegas Barnes and Noble bookstore. He’s in a wheelchair, wearing pajamas, a wig, sunglasses and a surgical mask. Friends insist he’s fine. Jackson dies in California 11 months later.
--Researched and written by Mike Precker