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Las Vegas: Remembering the Moulin Rouge, champion of integration

May 01, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • Guide Amy Hubbard explains the history of the Moulin Rouge and its sprawling sign during a tour of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.
Guide Amy Hubbard explains the history of the Moulin Rouge and its sprawling… (Jay Jones / special to the…)

The unique history of the Moulin Rouge, a long-ago Las Vegas resort, will be remembered May 23 during a special event at the city’s Neon Museum.

The museum’s display of neon signage is the final resting place for the giant sign that adorned the front of the Moulin Rouge, which suffered a devastating fire in 2003.

The hotel-casino, opened in May 1955, the hotel-casino was a refuge for African Americans in a then-segregated Las Vegas.

The presentation begins at 6 p.m. and will include a screening of parts of the documentary, “The Misunderstood Legend of the Las Vegas Moulin Rouge,” by local filmmaker Stan Armstrong.

Also participating will be Claytee White, the head of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, and Michael Green, a Las Vegas historian and professor at the College of Southern Nevada.

"Advertisements billed the Rouge as 'the nation’s first major inter-racial hotel,'" according to the book "Spectacular – A History of Las Vegas Neon."

"Unlike the other casinos, black entertainers and guests could stay at Moulin Rouge. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis greeted visitors, and from the start, the club had sold-out shows that attracted A-list entertainers such as Pearl Bailey, Harry Belafonte, Tallulah Bankhead, Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis Jr.”

The cursive-style sign was created by designer Betty Willis. Her most famous creation – the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign -- is recognized throughout the world.

The event is free. The Neon Museum is at 770 Las Vegas Blvd. N. More info: (702) 387-6366.

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