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Four aces

With the Stardust set to close on Wednesday, Current looks at four other hotels from Las Vegas' salad days. Two properties have managed to avoid the wrecking ball.

October 29, 2006

The Sands

Opened: 1952

Cost to build: $5.5 million

Opening act: Planting a time capsule that included Jimmy Durante's hat and Bing Crosby's pipe.

Biggest act: The Rat Pack -- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop -- performed onstage for the first time in the Copa Room.

Sinatra connection: Owned a good-sized share of the hotel and, at different times, drove a golf cart through a window and overturned the casino boss' furniture.

Girls, girls, girls: Hosted an annual Miss Atomic Bomb beauty contest.

Closed: 1996


The Dunes

Opened: 1955

Cost to build: $5 million

Opening act: A two-day extravaganza complete with a bathing-suit beauty contest.

Biggest act: A $1.5-million demolition of the hotel and its historic 18-story sign, including fireworks, phony cannon blasts and an audience of 200,000.

Sinatra connection: He donned a sultan costume for a performance at the desert-themed resort.

Girls, girls, girls: Boasted the first fully topless show, in 1957, and still more nude women in its French revue, Casino de Paris.

Closed: 1993


The Riviera

Opened: 1955

Cost to build: $7.5 million

Opening act: Liberace headlined for $50,000 a week.

Biggest act: The Riviera's skyscraper was the city's first, standing nine stories and reshaping the skyline.

Sinatra connection: Pal Dean Martin headlined in 1969, after he and Sinatra stopped playing at the Sands.

Girls, girls, girls: Legendary pin-up Betty Grable performed "Hello, Dolly!"

Closed: Not Yet


The Tropicana

Opened: 1957

Cost to build: $15 million

Opening act: Singer Eddie Fisher wowed a crowd that included then-wife Debbie Reynolds.

Biggest act: The Folies Bergere, declared by The Times in December 1959 to have "the liveliest and loveliest collection of girls this showtown has ever seen."

Sinatra connection: Sammy Davis Jr. starred on the Tropicana's brand-new stage in 1973, when the hotel was the only place in Vegas with two showrooms and two major shows.

Girls, girls, girls: Carol Channing canceled her contract at the hotel because she didn't want to follow nude showgirls. This despite having a hit satirical song titled, "You've Got to Take Your Clothes Off in Las Vegas."

Closed: Not Yet

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