Flamingo Las Vegas: Wikis


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Facts and statistics
Address 3555 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Opening date December 26, 1946
Theme Miami/Art Deco
No. of rooms 3,626
Total gaming space 77,000 sq ft (7,200 m2)
Permanent shows Donny and Marie
George Wallace
Signature attractions Wildlife Habitat
Casino type Land-Based
Owner Harrah's Entertainment
Previous names The Flamingo (1950-1952)
The Fabulous Flamingo (1952-1974)
Flamingo Hilton (1974-1999)
Years renovated 2004
Website Flamingo Las Vegas

The Flamingo Las Vegas is a hotel casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada and is owned and operated by Harrah's Entertainment. The property offers a 77,000 sq ft (7,200 m2) casino along with 3,626 hotel rooms. The 15 acres (6.1 ha) site's architectural theme is reminiscent of the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne style of Miami and South Beach, with the central outdoor area housing an exhibit of flamingos as part of a wildlife habitat. It was the home of penguins, but they have since been moved to the Dallas Zoo. It was the third resort to open on the strip. It is the oldest resort on the strip still in operation today.

The Flamingo has a Las Vegas Monorail station at the rear of the property.



A Hollywood Beginning

The Flamingo site occupies 40 acres originally owned by one of Las Vegas' first settlers, Charles "Pops" Squires. Mr. Squires paid $8.75 an acre for the land. In 1944, Margaret Folsom bought the tract for $7,500 from Squires, and she then later sold it to Billy Wilkerson. Billy Wilkerson was the owner of the Hollywood Reporter as well as some very popular nightclubs in the Sunset Strip: Cafe Trocadero, Ciro's and La Rue's.

In 1945, Wilkerson purchased 33 acres on the west side of U.S. Route 91, about one mile (1.6 km) south of the Last Frontier in preparation for his vision. Wilkerson then hired George Vernon Russell to design a hotel that was more in the European style and something other than the "sawdust joints" on Fremont Street. He planned a hotel with luxurious rooms, a spa, health club, showroom, golf course, nightclub and an upscale restaurant. Due to high wartime materials costs, Wilkerson ran into financial problems almost at once, finding himself $400,000 short and hunting for new financing.

Bugsy Siegel

Bugsy Siegel's memorial in the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, near the wedding chapel

In late 1945, mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and his "partners" came to Las Vegas, after the fledgling resort city piqued Siegel's interest due to its legalized gambling and its off-track betting. Siegel at the time held a large interest in Trans America Wire, a racing publication.[citation needed]

Siegel began when he purchased The El Cortez on Fremont Street for $600,000 and later sold it for a $166,000 profit. At the same time, Siegel and his organized crime associates learned Wilkerson had run out of money on his project. They used the profits from the El Cortez sale to influence Wilkerson to accept new partners. Siegel and such partners as Moe Sedway, Gus Greenbaum and Meyer Lansky invested $1 million in the new property, allowing Wilkerson to keep a one-third ownership stake and operational control.[1]

Siegel took over the final phases of construction and convinced more of his underworld associates to invest in the project. The problem was, Siegel had no experience in construction or design, causing costs to mount from constant changes and gouging from construction firms and suppliers — including, it was reputed, workers who delivered by day, stole by night, and resold the next day. Siegel may actually have bought some of the same materials twice thanks to this kind of scheming.[2]

Siegel lost patience with the rising costs, and his notorious outbursts unnerved his construction foreman. Reputedly, Siegel told him, "Don't worry — we only kill each other."[citation needed]

The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino

Flamingo Construction Site, 1946
Flamingo Matchbook circa 1946

Siegel finally opened The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a total cost of $6 million on December 26, 1946. Billed as the world's most luxurious hotel[citation needed], the 105-room property and first luxury hotel on the strip,[3] was built seven miles (11 km) from Downtown Las Vegas, with a large sign built in front of the construction site announcing it was a William R. Wilkerson project, with Del Webb Construction as the prime contractor and Richard Stadelman (who later made renovations to the El Rancho Las Vegas) the architect.

Siegel named the resort after his girlfriend Virginia Hill, who loved to gamble and whose nickname was Flamingo—a nickname Siegel gave her due to her long, skinny legs.[4] Organized crime king Lucky Luciano wrote in his memoir that Siegel once owned an interest in the Hialeah race track and viewed the flamingos who populated nearby as an omen.

The Death of Bugsy Siegel

Siegel's trouble with the Flamingo began, according to CrimeLibrary.com, when, a year after the official groundbreaking, the resort had produced no revenue and drained the resources of his mob investors. Then Meyer Lansky charged — at a major mob meeting in Cuba — that either Siegel or Hill was skimming from the resort's building budget, a charge amplified when Hill was revealed to have taken $2.5 million and gone to Switzerland, where the skimmed money was believed going.[citation needed]

"There was no doubt in Meyer’s mind," Luciano recalled in his memoir, "that Bugsy had skimmed this dough from his building budget, and he was sure that Siegel was preparing to skip as well as skim, in case the roof was gonna fall in on him." Luciano and the other mob leaders in Cuba asked Lansky what to do. Torn because of long ties to Siegel, whom he considered like a brother, Lansky nevertheless agreed that someone stealing from his friends had to go — at first. Lansky persuaded the others to wait for the Flamingo's casino opening: if it was a success, Siegel could be persuaded in other ways to repay. Luciano persuaded the others to agree.[citation needed]

The splashy opening — stars present included Cuban band leader Xavier Cugat (whose band provided the music), George Jessel, George Raft, Rose Marie, and Jimmy Durante as entertainment, with guests including Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Cesar Romero, Joan Crawford, and others — was a flop. Lansky managed to persuade the mob chiefs to reprieve Siegel once more and allow the Flamingo more time. But by January 1947 Siegel had to order the resort closed until the hotel could be finished.[citation needed]

The Flamingo re-opened in March despite the hotel not being complete, and this time, the results proved different. By May, the resort reported a $250,000 profit, allowing Lansky to point out that Siegel was right about Las Vegas after all. But it wasn't quite enough to save Siegel. On 20 June 1947, relaxing in the Hollywood bungalow he shared with Hill, who was away at the time, Siegel was shot to death.[citation needed]

A memorial plaque exists on the Flamingo site near the outdoor wedding chapel.[5]

After Siegel's death

Casino management changed the hotel name to "The Fabulous Flamingo" on March 1, 1947, and in time the Flamingo presented lavish shows and accommodations for its time, becoming well known for comfortable, air conditioned rooms, gardens, and swimming pools. Often credited for popularizing the "complete experience" as opposed to merely gambling, the Flamingo staff became known for wearing tuxedos on the job, and in 1950 the resort's Champagne Tower opened.[citation needed]

Kirk Kerkorian acquired the property in 1967,[6] making it part of Kerkorian's International Leisure Company, but the Hilton Corporation bought the resort in 1972, renaming it the Flamingo Hilton in 1974. The last of the original Flamingo Hotel structure was torn down on December 14, 1993 and the hotel's garden was built on the site.[citation needed]

The Flamingo's four hotel towers were built (or expanded) in 1967, 1975, 1977, 1982, 1990, and 1995.

Florence Ballard was fired from The Supremes during their engagement at the hotel in June-July 1967.

The Flamingo name has been applied to gambling operations elsewhere, such as this New Orleans riverboat

In the 1998 spin off of Hilton's gaming operations, ownership was changed to Park Place Entertainment which was renamed to Caesars Entertainment in 2004.

In September 1999 the Flamingo Hilton and its sister properties in Laughlin and Reno ended their long standing relationship with Hilton Hotels. The Hilton name was removed and the property was renamed Flamingo Las Vegas.

To enhance the hotel's Caribbean theme, a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant was opened in 2004.[citation needed]

In 2005 Harrah's Entertainment purchased Caesars Entertainment and the property became part of Harrah's Entertainment company.

Toni Braxton replaced Gladys Knight as the Flamingo’s new headlining act on August 3, 2006. The show, Toni Braxton: Revealed, ran through April 7, 2008. Although scheduled to run until August 2008, the show closed early due to Braxton's health problems.[7]

On September 9, 2008, Donny and Marie Osmond began a six month run as the new headlining act at the Flamingo. On October 27, 2008, the Flamingo announced that Donny and Marie's contract had been extended until October 2012.[citation needed]

Film history

The 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven was filmed here. A flashback sequence from the 2001 version of Ocean's Eleven was filmed at Flamingo. The 1964 film Viva Las Vegas was filmed here.

References in fiction

Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta stayed at the Flamingo while attending a seminar by the National Conference of District Attorneys on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs held at the Dunes Hotel across the street. Several of their experiences in their room are depicted in Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

The original Flamingo hotel and casino figures prominently in the Tim Powers novel Last Call. In the novel, the famed myth of Siegel's creation of the Flamingo was utilized as a basis for the overall supernatural plot of the novel (rather than the true historic account of his acquiring it from the original founder). The Flamingo is supposedly founded on Siegel's mythical/mystical paranoia of being pursued and killed for his Archetypal position as the "King of the West," known mythologically as "Fisher King." Supposedly the Flamingo itself was meant to be a real-life personification of "The Tower" card amongst the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, literally "the King's Castle in the Wasteland." It is believed Siegel kept his copy of a deck of the Lombardy Zeroth Tarot deck.

In Category 6: Day of Destruction, a shot of the casino can be seen along with Circus Circus and Stardust. Siegel's penthouse and office floor did, as referenced in the novel, in fact have a secret escape-hatch complete with ladder down to a service floor where supposedly a car was always in ready to effect his getaway in the event of his being attacked in his chambers. All other references to the Flamingo in any supernatural context in the novel are not based on any known or recorded facts/events.


  1. ^ Wilkerson III, W.R. (2000). The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. Ciro's Books. pp. 58–62. http://cirosbooks.com/man_who_invented_las_vegas.html. 
  2. ^ Wilkerson III, W.R. (2000). The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. Ciro's Books. pp. 82–85. http://cirosbooks.com/man_who_invented_las_vegas.html. 
  3. ^ Levitan, Corey. "TOP 10 SCANDALS: GRITTY CITY". Las Vegas Review-Journal. http://www.lvrj.com/living/16160347.html. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  4. ^ Marradino, Don (2007-08-26), "Where is the best pool in Vegas?", More Las Vegas FAQs, Travel Channel 
  5. ^ "Bugsy Siegel Memorial". RoadsideAmerica.com. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/13488. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  6. ^ "Nevada Gaming Abstract - MGM MIRAGE Company Profile". http://gaming.unlv.edu/abstract/fin_mgm.html. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  7. ^ "Toni Braxton Show canceled". http://vegasblog.latimes.com/vegas/2008/05/breaking-news-t.html. 

External links

Preceded by
Sahara Hotel
Tallest Building in Las Vegas
271 feet (83 m)
Succeeded by
Las Vegas Hilton

Coordinates: 36°6′58″N 115°10′14″W / 36.11611°N 115.17056°W / 36.11611; -115.17056

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