Wayne’s World: Checking in to Iconic Las Vegas Hotel History

August 30, 2016

This summer, a lot of news happened here in Las Vegas with the implosion of the iconic Riviera Hotel. This got many people—including our Casa de Shenandoah guests—thinking about vintage hotel-casinos in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Many, like the “Riv,” are now gone, lost to history. Many others, however, are still in business and welcome some of the 42 million people that visit “Sin City” a year.

(Left Photo) A selection of the many iconic Las Vegas hotels Wayne Newton has performed in over the years. (Right Photo) Starting in 1958, the Fremont Hotel & Casino was the first venue where Wayne performed in Las Vegas.
(Left Photo) A selection of the many iconic Las Vegas hotels Wayne Newton has performed in over the years.
(Right Photo) Starting in 1958, the Fremont Hotel & Casino was the first venue where Wayne performed in Las Vegas.

There’s no living entertainer that has more experience in playing Las Vegas’ iconic venues than Wayne Newton, “Mr. Las Vegas.” He’s been a vital part of this city since 1958, when he and his brother, Jerry, began performing in the Fremont Hotel & Casino. This mainstay of Fremont Street is still going strong after 60 years in business.

Let’s take a look back at some long-lost hotels where Wayne performed over the decades.

One of the other early establishments where he performed was the New Frontier, which also hosted a young Elvis Presley on his first Las Vegas engagement. The Frontier met its end in a 2007 demolition. Located nearby on Las Vegas Boulevard was the Stardust, which once hosted Wayne. Its twinkling neon signs went ultimately dark in a cloud of dust that same year.

Further south on the Las Vegas Strip, Wayne also performed at the doubly vanished Sands and Desert Inn. The Sands was brought to the ground in 1996. In its heyday, greats like Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis, Jr. thrilled audiences in its famed Copa Room. Where it once stood, the Venetian and the Palazzo now tower over the Strip. In the Desert Inn’s Crystal Room, Frank Sinatra often performed, as well as Bobby Darin and other of Wayne’s performer friends. The “D.I.” was imploded in 2001, and was replaced by Wynn Las Vegas.

Wayne was also once a part owner of the Aladdin in the ‘80s. In fact, you’ll find décor from the hotel in our Visitor Center, including huge chandeliers straight out of One Thousand and One Nights. Today, Planet Hollywood rises in the Aladdin’s place after its 1998 implosion.

There are, however, quite a few original hotel-casinos left standing where Wayne has appeared over the decades.

Of course, there’s the Fremont as mentioned above. There’s also what’s now called the Westgate Las Vegas. In the ‘60s and very early ‘70s, it was the International. It’s still revered as the home of Elvis’s long residencies. Wayne was a frequent performer there in the ‘80s when it was the Las Vegas Hilton. In addition, he performed at the Flamingo and Tropicana alike.

Of special note this year is Caesars Palace, which turned 50 on August 6. In addition to having brought his musical talents to the legendary hotel-casino over the years, he participated in a star-studded VIP concert along with Tony Bennett, Donny and Marie Osmond and many other noted entertainers to mark the anniversary.

Finally, there’s the original MGM Grand, where Wayne appeared in the ‘80s. These days, the property is known as Bally’s Las Vegas. It’s hosting his all-new show in the Windows Showroom, Wayne Newton: Up Close & Personal. It’s a fantastic production and covers Wayne’s incredible life in show business and beyond. Click here for tickets.

In his life, Wayne has performed more than 30,000 shows. With such a history in storied Las Vegas hotels, it’s no surprise!