The Riviera Hotel Las Vegas has spent more than five decades as the fabled Strip’s unparalleled entertainment epicenter.
Here at the Riviera, we don’t do things halfway. With the help of the biggest Hollywood actress in the world at the time, Joan Crawford, our resort flung open its doors on April 20, 1955. The resort revolutionized Vegas architecture: as the first high-rise in town, it clocked in as hands down the tallest hotel in Las Vegas. That night, we hired the hottest name in showbiz, Liberace, to whirl his way around his piano, and we paid him an astronomical sum to consider us his permanent performance home. (We also gave him a red Mercedes Benz for his birthday one year.) He accepted.
Word got out: throughout the rest of the 1950s, people arrived here in droves, both because of our enormous casino and for the chance to see premium performers: not just Liberace, but Orson Welles (who performed in 1956), Dinah Shore, Ginger Rogers and Red Skelton, among many others. The sold-out Red Skelton shows were so popular that hundreds and hundreds of fans stood and waited outside, even after the performances had begun, hoping the maître d’ would find some space for them inside.
In the 1960s, the Riviera started attracting even bigger names, Elvis Presley being one of them. Marlene Dietrich, Louis Armstrong and Barbra Streisand all performed here, with Streisand making her Vegas debut opening for one of Liberace’s always sold-out shows.
The hotel even made a few stars. One night, Debbie Reynolds fell ill and couldn’t perform. So we brought in a little-known singer/actress named Kaye Stevens to fill in.
She was sensational.
Kaye Stevens’ album from that time, Ruckus at the Riviera, is now a cult hit: an Internet search shows vintage vinyl copies going for upwards of $75-$100. She made such an impression at the Riviera that Ed McMahon introduced her to Johnny Carson and the Rat Pack.
And that’s when things really started to get interesting.
The Rat Pack loved the Riviera. Dean Martin became part owner of the hotel at one point. Shirley MacLaine, another of the raucous group’s few female members, has frequently high-kicked her way across our stage in a red-sequined pantsuit. Sammy Davis Jr. is remembered in the Las Vegas Walk of Stars right in front of our hotel.
And then there was Frank Sinatra. After his first visit here, the Riviera quickly became one of his favorite mid-century hangouts. He stayed here so often, we redesigned his room to his specifications. The Riviera was also the site of Sinatra’s last permanent engagement in Vegas, and we dedicated his suite in his name after he died. You can stay there: it’s room 2902 in the Monte Carlo Tower.
Since our storied beginning, the Riviera has been the symbol of glamour, nightlife and enormous entertainment. Our plush rooms and huge, 120,000-square-foot casino have been featured in films such as:
- The original Ocean’s 11
- Martin Scorcese’s Casino
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- 3,000 Miles to Graceland
Our shows, especially our sexy live show, Crazy Girls, are so popular that even luminaries such as Prince Albert of Monaco (Grace Kelly’s son) become huge fans. Prince Albert was so taken with the dancers that he and his entourage treated them to a night on the town, replete with limousines and champagne.
More than fifty years after its inception, the Riviera Hotel Las Vegas continues to attract the best in showbiz, and continues to strive for greatness. We are honored to have you stay with us, and to become part of our legendary story.
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