Texas Oil Tycoon, Jake Freedman, first opened the doors to The Sands Hotel & Casino on December 15, 1952 a mere three months after the Sahara Hotel & Casino took root. Initially, The Sands was to be named “Holiday Inn” after the Bing Crosby film of the same name, but after complaining about all the sand that filled Freedman’s socks, ‘The Sand’s become the moniker for the new oasis in the desert. Still not to shy away from Hollywood’s influence on Freedman, he lifted the title of the then-released film, “A Place In The Sun” as the casino’s tag line.
The Sands is probably best known for its association with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, known collectively as ‘The Rat Pack.’ With the release of the movie “Ocean’s 11” in 1960, The Sands garnered iconic status, and ushered in a slew of Hollywood and Political elite for years to come, and was THE place performers would entertain in the casino’s famous Copa Room, hosting the likes of Harry Belfonte, Nat King Cole, Jimmy Durante, Frankie Laine and Danny Thomas, just to name a few.
In the mid-1960s, Billionaire Howard Hughes acquired The Sands for a cool $14.6 million, and added an additional 500 hotel rooms to the original 200, opening in 1967, making the casino a major Las Vegas landmark.
Though The Sands had been Sinatra’s playground since first performing there in 1953, Hughes and Sinatra’s mutual hatred for each other caused Sinatra to cut ties with the casino and move to competitor, Caesars Palace.
Many say the golden age of The Sands ended when The Rat Pack left the casino, ushering in new performers like Wayne Newton and Liberace, not having the same electricity and appeal the early days the casino showcased.
Eventually, Hughes’ company sold off The Sands in the 1980s, and the landmark casino traded several hands until its demise in 1995 (demolished in 1996), when it gave way to the competition of the mega casinos and resorts that dot the Las Vegas Strip today.
Sadly, The Sands is only but a shadow of a memory in the history of Las Vegas, but with its connections to the likes of Sinatra and the mob and the Hollywood Elite, its legacy will surely endure.
Knowing this era of vintage Las Vegas is often imitated, never duplicated, there is a generation of folks who are nostalgic for the classic era of The Sands. The casino’s architecture, poker chip designs and original flair serves as inspirational points of what we create at Casino Supply. Though we can never go back to that time, but at least there are images and artifacts that help fuel the creativity of creating the look of that era in what we do. We tip our hats to the folks and trailblazers of The Sands, still ‘A Place In The Sun’ in our hearts and minds.
Photos courtesy of Wiki Commons.