In this week’s Vegas Seven, I look back at the legacy of Kirk Kerkorian:
When Kirk Kerkorian died June 15 at the age of 98, Las Vegas didn’t just lose a visionary whose fingerprints are all over the city’s most recognizable chunk of real estate. It lost a man whose accomplishments will almost certainly never again be equaled by a single person.
In addition to everything I wrote about in the column, I’d like to share a personal story. I only spoke with Mr. Kerkorian once, but it was meaningful. This was back in 2008, when I was conducting the research for Grandissimo. I cold-called Mr. Kerkorian’s office and explained that I wanted to speak briefly with him about his memories of Jay Sarno and Caesars Palace–since he was Sarno’s landlord at the start, he had a perspective that no one else did. I explained this to whoever took my call, emphasizing that I wasn’t going to start grilling him about his current investments, but just wanted to talk about Jay.
The next day, I was up in Reno (that semester I was covering a class for Bill Eadington), and when I got back to the office the following and checked my messages, there was not one but three voicemails from Mr. Kerkorian’s office, trying to schedule an interview time.
Naturally I called back right away, and had a 20-minute or so conversation with Mr. Kerkorian, who had some great memories. He was impressed, still, with both Jay’s golf game and his appetite, and credited him with changing the industry.
Mr. Kerkorian didn’t have to take the time to talk with someone writing a book about things that had happened 50 years before, but he did. It speaks, at least to me, to the kind of man he was.