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Stardust Resort and Casino

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stardust Resort and Casino
Stardust Resort and Casino logo.svg
Stardust Hotel And Casino.jpg
Location Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
Address 3000 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Opening dateJuly 2, 1958 (1958-07-02)
Closing dateNovember 1, 2006 (2006-11-01)
ThemeOuter space
No. of rooms1,552
Total gaming space85,000 sq ft (7,900 m2)
Casino typeLand-based
OwnerBoyd Gaming
Renovated in1964, 1977, 1991, 1999
Coordinates36°8′1″N 115°9′57″W / 36.13361°N 115.16583°W / 36.13361; -115.16583

The Stardust Resort and Casino was a casino resort located on 63 acres (25 ha) along the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada.

The Stardust opened in 1958 and operated continuously for 48 years. Shortly after the resort opened, the defunct nearby Royal Nevada hotel and casino (opened in 1955) was converted to become part of the Stardust, and a 32-story tower was added in 1991. It officially closed at noon on November 1, 2006 and was demolished by implosion on March 13, 2007. Having stood for only 16 years, the Stardust's West Tower had a short lifetime even by Las Vegas standards (or perhaps any other city's standards), where casinos are torn down and rebuilt on an almost-regular basis.

In 2007, Boyd Gaming, which owned the property, began construction on Echelon Place, Stardust's intended replacement. Construction was halted in 2008, however, during the economic downturn.[1][2][3] In 2013, Malaysia-based Genting Group bought the site from Boyd, with plans to open Resorts World, a Chinese-themed resort, by 2021.[3]


Stardust hotel & roadside sign (c.1960)
Stardust hotel & roadside sign (c.1960)

The famed Stardust sign became one of the symbols of Las Vegas.

Original signs (1958)

Young Electric Sign Company was hired to fabricate the sign. Kermit Wayne's design was selected for both the façade and the roadside signs. Although Moe Dalitz, who took over from original developer Tony Cornero upon his death, said it was from his original plans, the sign was really part of Cornero's original concept.[citation needed]

The 1958 Stardust façade sign was 216 feet (66 m) long and 37 feet (11 m) high, wrapping around two sides of the building, and was lit with 7,100 feet (2,200 m) of neon tubing and 11,000 incandescent bulbs.[4] It weighed 129 short tons (117 t), contained 32,000 feet (9,800 m) of wiring, and drew 3,000 amps.[5] At the bend in the sign was a 16-foot (4.9 m) diameter plastic model of the Earth.[5] Cosmic rays of neon and electric light bulbs beamed from behind the model Earth in all directions. Three-dimensional acrylic glass planets spun alongside 20 sparkling neon starbursts. Across the universe was a jagged galaxy of electric lettering spelling out "Stardust". The "S" alone contained 975 lamps. At night, the neon constellation was reportedly visible from over 3 miles (4.8 km) away.[5]

The roadside sign was freestanding with a circle constraining an amorphous cloud of cosmic dust circled by an orbit ring and covered in dancing stars. The hotel's name was nestled in a galactic cloud.[citation needed]

New roadside sign (1967)

Stardust sign (1967), photographed in 1990
Stardust sign (1967), photographed in 1990

In 1967, the old circular sign was replaced by a new $500,000 roadside sign. The new sign's form was blurred by a scatter of star shapes, a shower of stardust. At night, incorporating neon and incandescent bulbs in the animation sequence, light fell from the stars, sprinkling from the top of the 188-foot (57 m) tall sign down over the Stardust name.[6][7][citation needed] It was repainted in 1977 along with the refreshing of the building signage.[citation needed]

Remodeled façade (1968)

Flattened "starburst" façade and elevated Earth, after 1968
Flattened "starburst" façade and elevated Earth, after 1968

In 1959, the Stardust took over the neighboring Royal Nevada Hotel, which had opened in 1955. The county abandoned the road that had separated the two properties in 1964 and the façade was extended in 1966 along with the main lobby building to encompass the Royal Nevada property. The façade sign was completed in 1968; compared to the 1958 original, it was made flat and retained the starburst theme, but now the model Earth was elevated above the center of the sign on a lighted tower.[4]

Later changes (1977+)

The 1977 remodel of the building sign dropped the space theme in favor of an animated red and blue neon background, and the covering of the porte cochere was lit with thousands of incandescent bulbs.[citation needed] The main name was reset in the Futura typeface and moved to the new West Tower after it opened in 1991, and the building façade was stripped of many lights.[4]

Post-1991 Futura lettering

In 1991, the Stardust sign's Googie lettering was replaced with a subdued Futura typeface.[citation needed]


Conception and construction

The resort was conceived and built by Tony Cornero, who died in 1955 before construction was completed. The resort's assets were acquired and completed by John Factor (aka Jake the Barber), half-brother of cosmetics seller Max Factor, Sr.. John Factor leased the casino out to a company controlled by Moe Dalitz. When the hotel opened, it had the largest casino and swimming pool in Nevada, and the largest hotel in the Las Vegas area.

Royal Nevada

The Royal Nevada was the previous hotel on part of the Stardust site.

The Royal Nevada opened north of the New Frontier on April 19, 1955, as the Showplace of Showtown, U.S.A. The resort's crowning glory was the crown that sat on top of the resort.[citation needed] Al Sachs, who started as a dealer in illegal games before opening the Royal Nevada in 1955.[8]

The night before the opening, "atomic soldiers" from Camp Desert Rock were treated to a pre-opening party. Operation Teapot, the sixth in a series of nuclear weapons tests, had started earlier in 1955.[9]

The Royal Nevada was plagued with financial problems from the start; 1955 was in general a bad year for casinos, as the Royal Nevada and three other casinos that opened that year (the Riviera, the Dunes, and the Moulin Rouge) all went bankrupt.[10]

While this resort seemed to "disappear completely", swallowed in 1958 by the Stardust and becoming the Stardust's Convention Center,[10] portions of the two-story bungalow style Royal Nevada wing and pool remained in use up until 2006.


The Stardust opened at noon on July 3, 1958. The attendees of the opening included governors, senators, city and county officials and Hollywood celebrities, and the opening festivities were marked with fireworks and promised "a very unique 'ribbon cutting' ceremony".[5]

The entertainment roster featured the spectacular French production show Lido de Paris. Lido was conceived by Pierre-Louis Guerin and Rene Fraday, and staged by Donn Arden. The show continued into the 1960s with Vocalist Ray Vasquez, and Renee Victor, [11] The performers were flown to Las Vegas on a chartered plane, arriving on June 20. The first showing on the night of July 3 was a preview reserved for members of the press.[5] It was staged in the Cafe Continental, with seating for 700 and a rising stage capable of sinking 30 feet (9.1 m) below and rising 10 feet (3.0 m) above the floor. The stage was billed as larger than a basketball court, held a swimming tank and ice skating rink, and was capable of generating rain and snow on demand.[5]

The opening night lounge lineup offered, from dusk to dawn, Billy Daniels, The Happy Jesters, The Vera Cruz Boys and the Jack Martin Quartet. Daniels became the first entertainer to sign a long-term residency contract in Metropolitan Las Vegas when he agreed to appear for 40 weeks per year for three years.

Tony Cornero's dream became a $10 million, 1,065 room reality, charging just $6.00 a day; the rooms were arranged in six buildings, each named for a different planet (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Neptune, Saturn, and Jupiter), with parking provided at each building. The resort featured the 105-foot (32 m) long, 175,000-US-gallon (660,000 l; 146,000 imp gal) Big Dipper swimming pool, a 13,500-square-foot (1,250 m2) lobby, a 16,500-square-foot (1,530 m2) casino, and a decor featuring rich red and deep brown colors and indirect lighting.[5]

Expansion and attractions

The Stardust also held Las Vegas Strip's only first-run drive-in theater in the rear of the resort.

The Stardust took over the closed Royal Nevada hotel-casino, remodeled the showroom, and converted it into a convention center and high-roller suite. From 1959 to 1964, this wing was occupied by the Stardust's "high roller" guests and The Stardust showgirls.

In 1964, the Olympic-size pool area opened to the general public with the addition of the 9-story Stardust Tower that replaced half of the bungalow rooms.

In 1960, the resort added a new 4,800 sq ft (450 m2) screen surface to its drive-in theatre. The same year, the Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant was opened, complete with a Tiki Bar, and a large stone Tiki head (Moai) marking the entrance from the outside.

By 1961, Stardust's management included Credit Manager Hyman Goldbaum, a career criminal with seven known aliases, fourteen criminal convictions including an assault conviction, and a three-year prison sentence for income tax evasion. Casino Manager and 5% owner Johnny Drew, was a veteran associate of Al Capone and was once fined for running a crooked dice game at an Elks convention, and general manager Morris Kleinman had served three years for tax evasion.

In 1964, with the addition of the nine-story tower (later called the East Tower), the room count increased to 1,470. For the next five years The Stardust was the leader in rooms until 1969 when The International opened. In 1964 the landmark façade was updated, expanding out into the parking lot by the highway. The new façade raised the Stardust's name, still in electra-jag letters, onto a pole above the exploding universe.

From 1965 until 1970, the hotel operated the Stardust International Raceway in Spring Valley. The track drew the Can-Am and USAC Championship Car series, including drivers such as Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Mark Donohue, and Jackie Stewart.[12]

In 1966, Howard Hughes attempted to buy the Stardust for $30.5 million, but was thwarted by government officials on the grounds that his acquisition of any more gambling resorts might violate the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Siegfried & Roy got their Strip start as headliners [13] at the Stardust in the late 1960s[14] with the help of mob associate Frank Rosenthal after he gave them his wife Geraldine Rosenthal's unwanted gift Rolls Royce.

Under Argent

In November 1969, Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation purchased the Stardust for an undisclosed amount. The resort was bought by Argent Corporation in 1974 using loans from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. Argent was owned by Allen Glick, but the casino was believed to be controlled by various organized crime families from the Midwest. Al Sachs served as president of the Stardust in the early 1970s before leaving in 1974 after disagreeing with Glick and Rosenthal. Sachs was succeeded by Herb Tobman.[8]

In the 1970s, Argent Corporation had siphoned off between $7 and $15 million, using rigged scales. When this scam was exposed by the FBI, this skimming operation was the largest skim ever exposed.[15] A number of organized crime figures were convicted as a result of the skimming. The story of the casino operations and the cash skimming was featured in the Martin Scorsese movie and best selling book Casino by Nicholas Pileggi.

In 1977, the Stardust Hotel Casino went through another remodeling. The bombastic galactic theme was abandoned, though the roadside sign remained, and the façade was covered with animated neon tubing and trimmed with mirrored finish facets. The new porte cochere sparkled with 1,000 small incandescent bulbs.

In 1980, the famous Aku Aku Polynesian Restaurant closed. The giant stone Tiki head that had marked the entrance was later moved to an island in an artificial lake at Sunset Park in Winchester, Nevada.[citation needed]

Sachs and Tobman

After Argent Corporation was forced out of the gaming business in the late 1970s, the casino was sold to Al Sachs and Herb Tobman, who had both previously served as president of the Stardust. They formed Trans-Sterling, which took over the casino in 1979.[8] However, the Nevada gaming authorities found that the cash skimming was still going on.[16] In 1984, the Nevada Gaming Commission levied a $3.5 million fine against the Stardust resort for skimming, the highest fine ever issued by the commission, and Sachs and Tobman were forced to sell the Stardust and surrender their gaming licenses.[8] Suspicions, accusations and controversy about the Stardust's hidden ownership over the years was finally squelched when Sam Boyd's locally based, squeaky-clean gaming company, Boyd Gaming, purchased the Stardust in March 1985.

The Stardust was a virtual gold mine to the Chicago Outfit, the skim being extremely large. When The Stardust was taken over by the reputable Boyd family, they were surprised by its huge profits, with every penny of net income recorded. Ex-FBI agent William F. Roemer, Jr., longtime senior agent of the FBI's organized-crime squad in Chicago and an expert in Las Vegas doings, said, "The amount of skim had been so heavy that the profit and loss statement did not present a true picture of the gold mine that the Stardust was."[17]

Later years

Stardust at night as seen in 2004
Stardust at night as seen in 2004

In 1991, a 32-story West Tower was added to the resort, overshadowing the older East Tower and bringing the total room count to 1,500. Two landscaped swimming pools, a golf course, and athletic facilities were also built. The renovation project totaled $300 million. The bungalow rooms had been demolished, leaving the room count at 1,500.[18]

At its peak size, the Stardust contained 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) of gambling casino, including 73 gaming tables, and 1,950 slot, keno and video poker machines. The conference center was 25,000 sq ft (2,300 m2) and could accommodate meetings and banquets for groups of 25 to 2,000.[19][20][21]

Lido de Paris was replaced in 1992 with Enter the Night, which closed after its final show on December 27, 1999. Four of the original two-story buildings were demolished in 1999 as part of a $25 million renovation that included upgrades to rooms and landscaping.[18]

Wayne Newton signed a ten-year deal, negotiated by Jack Wishna, with the Stardust in 1999, for a reported $25 million per year, the largest entertainment contract in the Las Vegas region at the time. Newton's opening night was January 24, 2000.[22]After five and half years, Newton ended his run in late April 2005, and George Carlin moved into his theater. Magician Rick Thomas premiered at the hotel on March 25, 2005.

In 2002, comedian Andrew Dice Clay had a regular show at the Stardust.

The casino hosted an annual international pool tournament, the Jansco Brothers' Stardust Open, which attracted most of the top professional players of the era. For many years, its one-pocket division was the premier event in that discipline.

During the Stardust Theater's last month of operation, legendary stars, including George Carlin, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, gave performances; singer Lawrence Leritz performed for the Ex-Playboy Bunny Reunion. The last act to perform in The Stardust Theater was Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé;[23] the theater formally closed on October 28, 2006.

At the time of its closing, the Stardust Showroom starred The Magic of Rick Thomas, the most successful daytime show in the Strip's history.[24]

Final day

The Stardust permanently closed its doors to the public on November 1, 2006.[25] The last dice thrown at a Stardust craps table were by tourist Jimmy Kumihiro of Hawaii.[26] Slot machine betting was officially halted at 7:30 a.m. Just before the casino was officially closed at noon, the Bobbie Howard Band led the customers out the doors for the last time (in a conga line) to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In", and the hotel/casino complex closed after a 48-year run of continuous 24-hour operation. Outside, the loudspeakers were playing the John Lennon song "Nobody Told Me", which contains the line Nobody told me there'd be days like these / Strange days indeed.[27]


Fireworks light up the Stardust hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as demolition charges inside begin to take down the building.
Fireworks light up the Stardust hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as demolition charges inside begin to take down the building.
External video
video icon Video of the Stardust implosion

On Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 2:33 a.m. (Pacific Time), the Stardust Resort was imploded in a grand ceremony which included fireworks marking the 10-second countdown before the East and West Towers tumbled. 428 pounds of explosives brought down the hotel, which at the time was the tallest building demolished on the Strip. A planned laser light show was cancelled when strong winds blew dust toward the audience.[28][29]

Since the implosion, Boyd Gaming has continued to use the Stardust trademark with its Stardust Suite,[30] in gaming area signage at its Orleans hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The domain now redirects to Boyd Gaming's website.[31]


  • 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) Convention Center
  • Car rental onsite
  • Dining – 9 places
  • Fitness Center
  • Pavilion/Exhibit Center—40,500 square feet (3,760 m2)
  • Race and sportsbook
  • Shopping
  • Spa
  • Swimming pools
  • Wedding chapel

Cultural references

In literature


  • Part of a video clip "House of Mystic Lights" by C.C.Catch (1988) was recorded there.
  • The Aflac television commercial was shown from 2003, when Wayne Newton was singing there.
  • Both the neon sign and hotel tower can be seen during the plane crash scene in the film Con Air (1997)
  • The large neon sign can be seen in the 1997 film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
  • In Casino (1995), Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Pileggi's book, Sam "Ace" Rothstein (portrayed by Robert De Niro) was largely based on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Nicholas "Nicky" Santoro (portrayed by Joe Pesci) was based on Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. The casino's name was changed for legal purposes, from the Stardust to the "Tangiers Hotel and Casino", and the site was portrayed as being across the street from the Dunes, several blocks away from the actual site of the Stardust. However, snippets of the Hoagy Carmichael song, Stardust, can be heard on the soundtrack, giving a subtle hint as to the casino's true identity.
  • The sign is seen in several scenes in the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • The sign can be seen in the 1996 film Mars Attacks!, wherein it is damaged by the Martians.
  • The sign can be seen briefly in the 1996 animated film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
  • The sign can also be seen briefly in the Chevy Chase comedy film, Vegas Vacation (1997).
  • The sign is shown briefly in the episode of Friends titled "The One In Vegas: Part 1," which aired in 1999.
  • In 1994, the film Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas was filmed at the Stardust Resort and Casino.
  • The film Showgirls was partly filmed on location and set in the Stardust Resort and Casino. The film revolves around the battles to be the top Stardust showgirl.
  • The film Swingers (1996) had scenes set in the Stardust Resort and Casino. Exterior shots were the actual Stardust, but interior casino scenes were shot at the Fremont Hotel and Casino.[34]
  • On the 70th episode of Pawn Stars (2010), Rick and Corey purchase a blackjack table that was used in the Stardust Resort and Casino.
  • In the 2013 movie, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (and Anton Marvelton), the Stardust Casino is home to Magician Rance Halloway and his magic show that inspires Mr. Wonderstone to become a magician and obtain his own daytime magic show at Doug Munny's Ballys Casino.
  • In the 2014 TV show "Property Brothers at Home", the twins Jonathan and Drew go to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, where the old Googie sign makes a cameo appearance.


  1. ^ " - ABC7 WLS Chicago and Chicago News". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Las Vegas Review-Journal". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b Pierceall, Kimberly (2015-05-05). "New Las Vegas resort-casino to rise at Stardust site by 2018". Washington Times. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  4. ^ a b c "Remembering Stardust". Vegas Today And Tomorrow. 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Gala Stardust Hotel Opening Today: Set Spectacular Fanfare For Largest Resort Hotel". Las Vegas Sun. 3 July 1958. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  6. ^ (10 February 2016). "1972: Stardust hotel casino colorful neon sign shining bright at night. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ (18 January 2016). "1965: Stardust Hotel Casino drive by marquee signage Don Cornell. LAS VEGAS". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ a b c d Koch, Ed (12 November 2006). "Another Stardust tale". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  9. ^ Schwartz, David G. (6 August 2015). "The Long, Hot Summer of '55: How a season of hubris and disappointment helped reinvent Vegas". Vegas Seven. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Dreaming the Skyline: Royal Nevada". University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  11. ^ Roddy Palazuelos (27 November 2009). "Lido de Paris at Stardust - Las Vegas". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "Stardust memories". Las Vegas Sun. May 22, 2003. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  13. ^ Siegfried & Roy: Mastering the Impossible
  14. ^ Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn (3 October 2013). "The Weekly Interview: Siegfried & Roy, 10 years later". Las Vegas Weekly (Interview). Interviewed by John Katsilometes. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  15. ^ Levitan, Corey (2008-03-02). "Top 10 scandals: gritty city". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  16. ^ "Stardust Hotel - ONE". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Organized Crime's Promised Land".
  18. ^ a b "Stardust's original rooms soon to be demolished". Las Vegas Sun. 2 December 1999. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  19. ^ ancientflounder (16 August 2007). "Tour of Stardust Part 1". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ ancientflounder (16 August 2007). "Tour of Stardust Part 2". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ ancientflounder (16 August 2007). "Tour of Stardust Part 3". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ Delaney, Joe (28 January 2000). "New proves he's still a master in Stardust debut". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  23. ^ Abowitz, Richard (2 July 2006). "Sweeping up the Stardust". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  24. ^ dpo1013 (6 February 2007). "STARDUST HOTEL & CASINO LAS VEGAS 1958-2006". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  25. ^ "Las Vegas Review-Journal". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Photograph". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  27. ^ ""John Katsilometes sidles up to Bill Boyd on the morning he closes the door on the legendary Stardust amid a festive atmosphere", Las Vegas Sun, November 2, 2006". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  28. ^ Friess, Steve (2007-03-13). "Stardust Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas Is Demolished". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  29. ^ Nakashima, Ryan (2007-03-13). "Vegas' Stardust casino imploded". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  30. ^ Natrasha77 (27 April 2011). "Stardust Suite, Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas, NV". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Bravo Alternative Media (27 May 2016). "Las Vegas Stardust Casino Property Today 2016, an empty shell called Resorts World". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ Koziol, Ronald (5 December 1988). "Mob Figure Barred From Casinos". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  33. ^ Koziol, Ronald (11 June 1990). "Ex-bookie Wins One In Nevada". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  34. ^ "Swingers Film Locations", The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, 2008

Further reading

External links

Youtube videos

  • Interior:
  • Late period:
  • Implosion:

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