Celebrating the Decades: The ‘Entertainment Capital of World’ in the Sixties

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — We are just a couple of months from welcoming a new decade, and here at 8 News Now we’re looking back how the past decades shaped Las Vegas. We’re kicking things off with the 1960’s. We’re taking a trip back in time to the nightlife and entertainment scene during that period.

If evidence is needed that Las Vegas deserves to be dubbed the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” look no further than the Summit at The Sands on a Saturday night. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop led a nightly free-for-all of music, comedy, improv and special guests.

It was the birth of the rat pack.

These shows come after a day of filming “Ocean’s 11,” a movie — along with Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” — that will showcase Vegas of the 1960’s in the realm of pop culture.

Showrooms were not about profit, but people would later be lining tables, and losing money. As actress Tallulah Bankhead said, “We’re just the highest paid shills in history.” These entertainers attracted gamblers. The best and the brightest included Liberace.

Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, could be seen roasting anyone in sight at the Sahara lounge. Wayne Newton was performing 6 shows a day, 6 nights a week, earning his future title — Mr. Las Vegas.

After pressure from the NAACP, civil rights groups, and performers; strip hotels were integrated in 1960.

Elvis Presley sold out 837 straight shows at the, then, International. The list of big names on the strip were seemingly endless with the Jackson 5, Johnny Carson, Bob Newhart, Tom Jones and Jerry Lewis.

Even the biggest band on the planet, The Beatles, were in the Vegas mix, with the fab four playing 2 sold-out shows at the convention center in 1964.

Las Vegas is, and was (especially in the 1960’s), the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

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