Bond, cabaret & live TIGER shows: Inside the wild history of Tropicana Las Vegas


AFTER hosting top Hollywood stars and staging the city’s longest-running cabaret for 67 years, the final day of America’s most iconic hotel has now arrived.

Las Vegas Strip’s Tropicana will shut its doors today to make room for a new Major League Baseball stadium.

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The Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resort is being demolished after 67 yearsCredit: Alamy
Dancers of Folies Bergere posing at the plush Hotel Tropicana

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Dancers of Folies Bergere posing at the plush Hotel TropicanaCredit: Getty
Comedienne Joan Rivers and Folies Bergere cabaret performers attend The Best of Las Vegas Awards in the hotel

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Comedienne Joan Rivers and Folies Bergere cabaret performers attend The Best of Las Vegas Awards in the hotelCredit: Getty
A scene from Sean Connery's Diamonds Are Forever shows James Bond in the hotel

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A scene from Sean Connery’s Diamonds Are Forever shows James Bond in the hotelCredit: Diamonds Are Forever
The hotel played host to illusionists Siegfried and Roy who debuted their show at the hotel

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The hotel played host to illusionists Siegfried and Roy who debuted their show at the hotelCredit: Tropicana

The last few guests of the lavish hotel-casino will be required to check out by noon today as the glamourous piece of history is set to be demolished in the coming days.

After the demolition, about nine acres of the 35-acre parcel will be granted to the Athletics baseball team for the construction of a 30,000-seat stadium, the staff of the resort confirmed.

Inaugurated in 1957, Tropicana Las Vegas was known for its extravagance and opulence – and was said to be “famous from the day it opened”.

Popular newspaper Las Vegas Sun described the hotel as: “Unlike many other Strip layouts, the Tropicana was designed and built as a resort hotel, not as a casino and night club with incidental guest rooms.”

When the property was first unveiled, a massive 60-foot fountain cascading water into a 100-foot-long pool was built at the heart of its entrance.

The Gorgeous Cuban-themed property was covered by a long canopy that stretched out 40 feet and measured 130 feet in length.”

Its manicured lawns and elegant showroom earned it the nickname “Tiffany of the Strip”.

Black and white photographs taken decades ago give a view into what the legendary property looked like at its peak.

Boasting a lavish midcentury décor, the hotel was a frequent haunt for elites and often hosted top stars in its showroom – from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.

Even top-notch singers like Mel Tormé and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana, while Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton have held residencies there.

In 1967, famous magicians and illusionists Siegfried and Roy left Paris to perform their debut act with a tiger at the Tropicana’s Folies Bergere show – the city’s longest-running cabaret.

The show also featured glamourous dance performances from famous stars and in-house feathered showgirls.

Tropicana is also known for being the filming location for several iconic Hollywood movies.

In the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery’s James Bond used the hotel’s casino before staying in one of the lavish suites.

“I hear that the Hotel Tropicana is quite comfortable,” Agent 007 said in the film.

Even Godfather’s Corleones were featured in the property, while it also became the set for Viva Las Vegas and War of the Colossal Beast.

It’s time. It’s ran its course. It makes me sad but on the other hand, it’s a happy ending

Charlie GranadoBartender at Tropicana

With iconic guests visiting the hotel and the famous Folies Bergère cabaret, Tropicana became the centre spot for everything Las Vegas had to offer.

But it’s been decades since the resort marked its heyday – and the casino has just become an iconic relic as the city has evolved.

And after 67 years of glitzy and glory, Tropicana’s doors are finally shutting down for good.

Charlie Granado, who has been a bartender at the Tropicana for 38 years, said: “It’s time. It’s ran its course. It makes me sad but on the other hand, it’s a happy ending.”

Today, only the low-rise hotel room wings remain of the original Tropicana structure.

Yet the casino still conjures up vintage Vegas nostalgia.

JT Seumala, a Las Vegas resident who visited the casino in March said: “It does give an old Vegas vibe. When you first walk in, you see the stained glass and the low ceilings,”

“It does feel like you step back in time for a moment.”

Seumala and his husband stayed at the Tropicana as a way to pay tribute to the iconic landmark.

They roamed the casino floor and hotel, turning down random hallways and exploring the convention centre.

They even tried their luck at blackjack and roulette while speaking to a waiter who had worked there for 25 years.

At the end of their stay, they kept a couple $5 poker chips as a way to remember the casino.

The ballpark stadium planned for the land beneath the Tropicana is expected to open in 2028.

“There’s a lot of controversies as far as if it should stay or should it go,” Seumala said.

“But the thing that I do love about Vegas is that it’s always reinventing itself.”

Vintage entertainment poster from the 1950s showing the Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel's iconic show Folies Bergere

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Vintage entertainment poster from the 1950s showing the Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel’s iconic show Folies BergereCredit: Alamy
Frank Sinatra performing in Tropicana

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Frank Sinatra performing in TropicanaCredit: Getty
Singer Eddie Fisher with his wife, Debbie Reynolds(right) and Elizabeth Taylor when he opened his last engagement at the Tropicana Hotel

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Singer Eddie Fisher with his wife, Debbie Reynolds(right) and Elizabeth Taylor when he opened his last engagement at the Tropicana HotelCredit: Getty
Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield at the Hotel Tropicana, Las Vegas

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Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield at the Hotel Tropicana, Las VegasCredit: Alamy
Actress Rhonda Fleming blossoms out as a singer and dancer in the first-night club appearance of her career at the New Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas

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Actress Rhonda Fleming blossoms out as a singer and dancer in the first-night club appearance of her career at the New Tropicana Hotel in Las VegasCredit: AP
Showgirls dancing in the city's longest-running cabaret

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Showgirls dancing in the city’s longest-running cabaretCredit: Alamy
Actress and model Kitty Dolan talks to another showgirl dancer in the dressing room at The Tropicana Hotel in 1958

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Actress and model Kitty Dolan talks to another showgirl dancer in the dressing room at The Tropicana Hotel in 1958Credit: Getty
Dolan poses for a portrait next to a 1958 Ford Edsel Citation outside The Tropicana Hotel

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Dolan poses for a portrait next to a 1958 Ford Edsel Citation outside The Tropicana HotelCredit: Getty
The iconic hotel will be demolished to make room for a Baseball stadium

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The iconic hotel will be demolished to make room for a Baseball stadiumCredit: Alamy
Digital render of the outdoor stadium envisioned to be built at the site

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Digital render of the outdoor stadium envisioned to be built at the siteCredit: DESIGN BY BIG/IMAGE BY NEGATIV

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