The Grand Opening of the Grandest Hotel in Las Vegas
Dean Martin and The Golddiggers were selected to open the new MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, the world’s largest casino! It was an elegant and gala affair! After the festive opening ceremonies, their sold out performance was held in the expansive, state of the art MGM Celebrity Room.
The story through the eyes of two of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers and Las Vegas historians is put together in a book. Excerpts from the book, BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS…
Linda: “On December 5, 1973 we were back in Las Vegas, this time to appear with Dean opening night at the brand new MGM Grand Hotel. I felt like a princess, the taxi that delivered us to the door could have been a carriage. It was all so glamorous.
Opening night was one of the most fabulous nights of my life. It was such a huge deal, a big event for the city of Las Vegas and for us. Vegas was so different then, it had that old Hollywood magic. The city had style, everybody dressed up in those days. I usually wore long, slinky gowns in the evenings, before and after the show.”
Maria: “I thought the MGM was incredibly gorgeous, I liked it much better than Caesars because that place was so dark inside. Everything was a lot grander, so to speak, at the MGM—more open, and it was all about the Hollywood experience so I loved it. The movie star pictures beside the rooms were so glamorous. I thought, ‘Oh, what star’s picture will my room be next to? Maybe some of her magic will rub off on me.'”
History in the Making
PBS, The American Experience: “Kirk Kerkorian surpassed the size and scope of the International when he built the MGM Grand. The hotel had 2,100 guest rooms, five gourmet restaurants and the world’s largest casino. At 26 stories high, the MGM Grand was the tallest casino in the free world.
The completion of the MGM Grand led to the corporate revolution in Las Vegas. In order to have the funds required to finance the $106 million MGM, Kerkorian sold his International and Flamingo Hotels to the Hilton Hotel Corporation, marking the first time a publicly owned conglomerate was in charge of a Las Vegas casino…”
Dr. Gene Moehring, Professor of History, UNLV: “Raquel Welch was the one that set off the bomb that started the construction of the MGM Grand. You didn’t have any high rise hotels in Las Vegas until the Riviera in 1955 because there’s water under the valley and no one knew if the aquifers would mess up the high buildings. All the early hotels were two and three stories, that was it; they were like ranches that went on for fifty rooms but they weren’t high rises.
Vegas was the first place to give deluxe, using the French word, luxury rooms to the middle class for a low rate. When they ran the place in the fifties and sixties the mob would give you a nice room for ten dollars a night. They’d get it all back in the casinos. Very few hotels opened in Las Vegas in the seventies but in the sixties you had Caesars Palace open in 1966, Kerkorian had opened The International which is today the Las Vegas Hilton in 1968, and the first MGM Grand, today Bally’s, in 1973. ∗ So you had all that growth but it slowed down in the seventies…”
© Copyright, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
∗ The MGM fire in 1980 was the worst disaster in Las Vegas history.
Read more in the book BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS.