Las Vegas and the Freemont Street experience are practically synonymous with each other. Freemont Street is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. You never know what you’ll discover on a walk down the street – it’s always been a world in itself!
Named after famous explorer John Charles Frémont, the street is fittingly a mini-exploration of sorts! In 1955, cars whizzing down the street were a common occurrence. Of course, as the years went by and throughout the decade, the street got busier and busier. Visitors could soon find antiques, watch light shows, or indulge in free slot spins among other dizzying sights!
Mamie Van Doren at The Riviera Hotel
Starlet Marylin Monroe spawned a new kind of sex symbol in Hollywood – the sultry, blond bombshell. The blond bombshell was sexy and sophisticated, with an effortless charm that could disarm even the most reticent man. Monroe’s influence on Hollywood was evident when Mamie Van Doren appeared in her first-ever nightclub appearance at the Riviera Hotel in 1957.
She sang the song "Teddy Bear" in a memorable performance that was an unmistakable homage to Monroe – from the singing and clothes right down to the hairstyle. Van Doren is one among numerous actors who people have reductively (and rather unimaginatively) dubbed Marilyn Monroe clones.
Frank Sinatra at The Sands
Frank Sinatra’s shows at The Sands Hotel were so legendary that sometimes the singer himself couldn’t quite believe it. His first-ever live album, "Sinatra At The Sands," opens with the artist walking into the Copa Room, quipping about how so many people managed to squeeze into the room - around 600, to be precise!
Sinatra was a Las Vegas regular and would typically perform at the Sands about three times a year, often staying for two or three weeks at a time. Needless to say, his shows filled up the city bringing millions of dollars to the hotels and to the tables.
Sammy Davis Jr And Loray White’s Infamous Wedding
In 1957, musician Sammy Davis Jr was riding high on success. He was also quite the ladies’ man, and one lady in particular had caught his eye during this time – upcoming actor, Kim Novak. The two began dating each other in secret. But word soon got out and all hell broke loose. Goons - presumably hired by Novak’s studio executives - threatened Davis Jr., telling him to go find himself a Black woman.
Fearing for his life, the musician went and did just that. He and Loray White knew each other a little, which was seemingly enough for Davis Jr. The pair got married in 1958 and expectedly divorced soon after. The picture above also shows Joe E. Lewis, Harry Belafonte, and Donald O'Connor in attendance.
Joe Louis Signs
Joe Louis became a boxing sensation when he knocked out James J. Braddock on June 22, 1937. When other fighters managed an average reign of 3 years, Louis was world heavyweight champion for a whopping 12 years. His celebrity status skyrocketed in this time. Louis signed a contract with the Las Vegas Moulin Rouge Hotel 1954 where he would often appear for fans and do "tourist greetings."
Not many people know that he was among the original investors of the Moulin Rouge Hotel - the first non-segregated hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Louis wasn’t just a legendary boxer but also the first African American to become a national hero. He united people across color divides and backgrounds. His image was highly publicized and eventually became quite strictly managed.