LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — First Friday is a perfect opportunity to rub elbows with a Las Vegas legend tonight at the “Lighting Up Las Vegas” exhibit at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery. The exhibit is open until 9 p.m.

Vegas Vic, the larger-than-life 40-foot sign on Fremont Street, is the subject of an often-repeated tale that goes back to the 1966 movie, “The Professionals,” starring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode and a host of other big stars. The movie, shot on location at Valley of Fire State Park, was a gritty western with Marvin and his comrades crossing the Mexican border to “rescue” a less-than-cooperative Claudia Cardinale.

Marvin is at the center of the legend, a story regarded as “Las Vegas lore” by many.

The story goes that Marvin couldn’t get any sleep in his hotel room because of the droning “Howdy Podner” audio coming from the sign. He supposedly shot the sign using a bow and arrow to get Vic to shut up.

Accounts from the era say that there were a lot of complaints about the “Howdy Podner” — and a lot more people who wanted the audio shut off than just Lee Marvin.

The tale is mentioned in “Point Blank,” a 2013 biography of Marvin by Dwayne Epstein. But it says Marvin had nothing to do with the incident.

But Strode’s 1993 autobiography, “Goal Dust: The Warm Candid Memoirs of a Pioneer Black Athlete and Actor,” has plenty of details.

Vegas Vic. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

Strode’s book claims he shot the arrow from a room where he was rooming with stuntman Tony Ebbs: “I found the angle, set, let loose an arrow and hit Howdy Podner right in the mouth. The whole statue started crackling. Sparks were flying everywhere. Then Howdy Podner blacked out and came to a stop.”

The two fled to Lee Marvin’s room as police went to their hotel. They told him to hide the bow.

“Well, that crazy son of a b—- got so excited he fired a shotgun out of his window,” according to Strode. “The cops came and found the bow in his room. Lee was so proud; it got to be the biggest joke in town.”

We may never know if there’s any truth to it, but the legend lives on. These days, people say Marvin shot the arrow, or shot it with a pistol. Others scoff.

“It fits beautifully with the long list of legends about Las Vegas,” says Michael Green, a UNLV history professor.

Green quotes the kicker from another hit Western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Marvin played the part of Liberty Valance:

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Vic is a Vegas icon.

Vegas Vic, right, and Vegas Vicki, center, are on display on panels produced by the Las Vegas News Bureau

When you visit the exhibit in the Arts District, you’ll see schematics and renderings of the sign along with historic photos.

The walk to see the real thing is a little over two miles from there, but the sign is worth a visit. Vic has changed over the years. The “Howdy Podner” is gone and he’s not moving anymore. He’s got a video canopy overhead now — he barely fit when the Fremont Street Experience was built.

“His arms moved. They pivoted for 50 years.” Jeff Young, senior vice president at YESCO, still marvels at the engineering of the iconic sign. “To engineer something that moves 24 hours a day for 50 years … .”

YESCO maintains the sign, and Young said he couldn’t add anything to the Vegas Vic legend.