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PASSINGS / Bob Stupak

Developer of Vegas tower

September 26, 2009|Times Staff And Wire Reports

Bob Stupak, 67, the developer of the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower on the Las Vegas Strip, died Friday at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas after a long fight with leukemia, a family spokeswoman said.

A casino entrepreneur and colorful gambler known for outlandish promotions, Stupak opened the $550-million Stratosphere hotel-casino in 1996 in hopes that the tower would attract millions of visitors to Sin City. The casino filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and was eventually taken over by billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

Stupak was named "Mr. Las Vegas" in 1996 by then-Mayor Jan Jones. He bet $1 million on the 1989 Super Bowl and ended up winning $2 million.

Stupak was born in 1942 in Pittsburgh, where his father was a bookmaker. He dropped out of school and had a series of short-lived jobs before he found a niche distributing dine-out coupon books. He then moved to Australia and eventually Las Vegas.

In the 1970s, he created Bob Stupak's World Famous Historic Gambling Museum and Casino before opening the hotel-casino Vegas World in 1979.

He ran for political office several times, most recently for lieutenant governor in 2006. He never won.

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