Some of the many retellings of Frank Sinatra’s life center not only on his music but the great loves of his lifetime. One of them was Lauren Bacall. On September 14, 1956, Sinatra got Bacall a three-tiered cake for her 32nd birthday and decorated it with the words ‘Happy Birthday Den Mother.’ Odd? Subliminal message?
Later, the world discovered that Bacall and Sinatra were having an affair while Bacall’s husband, Humphrey Bogart was dying of cancer. The pair got engaged but Sinatra called it off. Bacall would later say he had done her a favor, saving her from the disaster their marriage would’ve been.
Las Vegas has been the “quickie” wedding capital since the ‘50s, and the story behind how it got that name goes back even further. The city had always been lax about wedding requirements since the early 1900s. Unlike other states, Nevada didn’t need blood tests to prevent couples from marrying while inebriated – which is why everyone flocked here to get married.
But express weddings became a thing only in the 1930s when the state passed bills shortening the time needed before you could file for divorce. By the 1950s, the Vegas wedding industry was booming. Here we have a couple kissing after a Vegas wedding, with an official already handing over their easily-acquired marriage license.
Liberace and Elvis Presley Jamming
Elvis Presley and Liberace couldn’t seem more different on the surface at least. Liberace had been around the scene for years. A flamboyant pianist, everyone's (even your grandma's) favorite. And then you had Elvis Presley. Dangerously handsome. A rock n' roll artist with hips that mean business. He's the kind that could whisk your teenage daughter away into the night.
But the two artists had much more in common than one might think. Liberace and Elvis Presley were mutual fans of each other. They first met when Liberace went to see the king of Rock and Roll perform. Presley then got the opportunity to go see Liberace's act at the Riviera. The two reunited with a backstage jam in 1956. Many say they shared a mystical connection beyond their artistry.
Elvis's Vegas Debut
Elvis Presley's first-ever Vegas concert took place in 1956 at the New Frontier Hotel. By then, his first hit “Heartbreak Hotel” and his first album were topping the charts. He’d also signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures. Everywhere he went, he attracted thousands of fans, most of them adoring teenage girls. Although dubbed the “atomic-powered singer” by newspapers, the Presley mania lost steam in Las Vegas.
The audience here wasn’t just different, it was indifferent. Polite but highly skeptical. His two-week Las Vegas debut was a rocky but critical moment in his career. Some say it was a deliberate move by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. He needed Presley to gain experience and serious credibility beyond the wild teenage audiences the musician had been used to so far.
Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas
It’s not an overstatement to say that Arlene Dahl was one of the most immaculate Hollywood stars of the 1950s. She never had a single strand of hair out of place and was always fashionably dressed. Her ex-husband, Argentinian star, Fernando Lamas would share after their divorce that it was like being married to Elizabeth Arden.
He had never seen her without makeup throughout their marriage. Dahl’s obsession with appearances limited the nature and number of roles Hollywood could offer her. But it served her well elsewhere. The fixation on beauty helped establish her wildly successful cosmetics and lingerie after the actor retired from movies.