Vegas has always been a blast when it comes to entertainment. In the 1950s, for instance, “Up and Atom City” offered the spectacle of nuclear detonations some 65 miles away; Louis Prima’s mad trumpeting at Sahara’s Casbar Lounge was “The Wildest Show in Las Vegas”; and Minksy’s Follies debuted at the Desert Inn as the first topless showgirls in town.
Countless other moments play on in the mists of time. Then, remarkably, there is the still-active old guard, such as the trio, born months apart in 1926, of Tony Bennett, Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis.
After ushering in 2015 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with Lady Gaga (who ushered in 2017 at the Encore), Bennett, still touring, was feted last year on his 90th birthday with a champagne toast at New York-New York Hotel & Casino’s replica Brooklyn Bridge, and at the star-studded 20th anniversary Power of Love gala at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
This April, just shy of his 91st birthday, Rickles and co-host Regis Philbin bring their “Laughfest” to Downtown’s Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Long-time Vegas resident Lewis, who first performed here with Dean Martin in 1949, still does ticketed shows, such as his three-night stand last fall at off-Strip South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa.
Liberace, dazzling Vegas from 1944 until just before his passing in 1987, is back via a display of his cars at the event-capable Liberace Garage, piano included. Last October, his landmarked Liberace Mansion became available for private tours by arrangement. The 24-hour Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge, where Liberace frequently dined after performances, is a Vegas must.
With more than 30,000 Vegas appearances over time, Wayne “Mr. Las Vegas” Newton helped inaugurate the T-Mobile Arena and is presently performing his “Up Close and Personal” show at Bally’s Las Vegas. His former home, Casa de Shenandoah, is also available for tours, featuring classic cars, showbiz memorabilia, exotic animals and more.
Master comedians and illusionists Penn & Teller’s continuing 15-year run at off-Strip Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is among the longest-running headline acts in Vegas history. The record of 27 years belongs to female impersonator Frank “Queen of the Strip” Marino, star of Divas Las Vegas at the Linq Theater.
There’s always room for old acts. Last October, The Rolling Stones, all in their 70s save 69-year-old guitarist Ronnie Wood, rocked the T-Mobile Arena. Earlier in the month, the band played a surprise show in a Bellagio conference room for 1,200 attendees at Freightliner’s annual customer appreciation dinner. The year before it was Paul McCartney, who first played Vegas in 1964 with the Beatles.
Who will represent the past in, say, 2055, when Vegas turns 150? Jennifer Lopez, for one, will be 86 that year.