In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the changes that swept Las Vegas thanks to an arrival over Thanksgiving weekend, 1966.
For the weekend, though, it was business as usual. That Friday, 5,000 doctors arrived for an American Medical Association convention. Don Rickles could be seen at the Sahara’s Casbar lounge. And a young stand-up comedian named Woody Allen made his Las Vegas debut at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus showroom.
Down the boulevard at the Desert Inn, a guest who would change Las Vegas forever checked in—Howard Hughes.
The basic explanation that you hear is that Hughes chased out the mob, brought in the corporations, and made Las Vegas respectable. I take a more nuanced look at his impact here, but mostly I wanted people to consider how one person’s arrival can shuffle the deck.