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After welcoming guests for 67 years, Tropicana Las Vegas Casino’s final day has arrived

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In the 1971 film “Diamonds are Forever,” James Bond stays in a fancy suite at the Tropicana Las Vegas.

“I heard the Hotel Tropicana is quite comfortable,” Agent 007 says.

It was the heyday of the Tropicana. The lavish casino was a frequent haunt of the legendary Rat Pack, while its past among the gang cemented its place in Vegas history.

But after 67 years of welcoming guests, the doors of the Las Vegas Strip’s third-oldest casino will be chained shut at noon Tuesday and demolition is scheduled for October to make way for a $1.5 billion casino Major League Baseball Stadium – Part of the city’s recent rebranding as a sports entertainment hub.

“It’s time. “It’s run its course,” Charlie Granado, a bartender at Tropicana for 38 years, said of the casino’s closure. “It makes me sad, but then again, it’s a happy ending.”

The population of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, had just topped 100,000 when the Tropicana opened on a strip surrounded by vast, open desert. The construction of three floors with 300 rooms divided into two wings cost $15 million.

Its manicured lawns and elegant showroom earned it the nickname “Tiffany of the Strip.” There was a towering tulip-shaped fountain near the entrance, mosaic tiles everywhere, and mahogany-paneled walls.

Black and white photographs From that time on, they provide a glimpse into the Tropicana’s atmosphere at its peak, when it frequently hosted A-list stars in its showroom – from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds to Frank Sinatra Sammy Davis Jr.

Mel Torme and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton held residencies there.

In a city known for reinvention, the Tropicana itself underwent major changes as Las Vegas evolved. In later years two hotel towers were added. In 1979, a $1 million green-amber stained glass ceiling was installed over the casino floor.

Barbara Boggess was 26 when she started working as a laundry attendant at the Tropicana in 1978.

“The Tropicana was pretty much sitting here all by itself,” Boggess said. “It was desert everywhere. It used to take me 10 minutes to get to work. Now it takes an hour.”

Boggess is now 72 and has experienced the Tropicana in all its variations. In the 1980s, it was renamed “The Island of Las Vegas” with a swim-up blackjack table by the pool, and the South Beach-style renovation was completed in 2011.

Today, all that remains of the original Tropicana structure are the low-rise hotel room wings. Yet the casino still evokes vintage Vegas nostalgia.

“It has an old Vegas vibe. “When you first walk in, you see the stained glass windows and the low ceilings,” said JT Seumala, a Las Vegas resident who visited the casino in March. “It feels like you’re going back in time for a moment.”

Seumala and his husband stayed at the Tropicana to pay tribute to the landmark. They roamed the casino floor and the hotel, walked through random hallways, and explored the convention center. They tried their luck at blackjack and roulette and chatted with a cocktail waiter who had worked there for 25 years. At the end of their stay, they pocketed a few $5 red poker chips to remember the casino by.

Behind the scenes of the casino’s opening decades ago, the Tropicana had ties to organized crime, most notably through reputed gangster Frank Costello.

Weeks after the opening, Costello was shot in the head in New York. The police found a piece of paper in his coat pocket with the Tropicana’s exact earnings figures. The note also mentioned “funds to be siphoned off” for Costello’s employees, it is said An entry on the Mob Museum website, which looks back on the history of the Tropicana.

In the 1970s, federal authorities investigating mobsters in Kansas City charged more than a dozen mobsters with conspiring to skim nearly $2 million in gambling revenue from Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana. Charges related to the Tropicana alone resulted in five convictions.

But the famous hotel-casino also enjoyed many years of success without the mob. It was home to the city’s longest-running show, “Folies Bergere.” The topless revue, imported from Paris, featured one of Las Vegas’ most recognizable icons today: the feathered showgirl.

During its nearly 50-year run, “Folies Bergere” featured lavish costumes and sets, original music once performed by a live orchestra, line dancers, magic shows, acrobats and comedy.

The cabaret was featured in the 1964 Elvis Presley film “Viva Las Vegas.” The show began with the magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn.

Today, the location at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip intersects a major thoroughfare named after the Tropicana. It is surrounded by the massive mega-resorts that Las Vegas is known for today.

But nearby are the homes of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, which left Oakland, Calif., in 2020, and the city’s first major league professional team, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The ballpark planned for the site below the Tropicana is scheduled to open in 2028.

“There is a lot of controversy about whether it should stay or go,” Seumala said. “But what I really love about Vegas is that it keeps reinventing itself.”

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