Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2014

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Gala Sands Opening Tonight

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Cars line the Las Vegas Strip in front of the Sand Casino in this 1950s photo. The Sands opened on Dec. 15, 1952 and was the seventh casino to open on the Strip. The Sands was most famous as the home of the Rat Pack, and its Copa Room hosted many legendary performances. The hotel was imploded on Nov. 16, 1996 to make way for the Venetian Hotel.

Universal opinions expressed by more than 10,000 people who viewed the new hospice yesterday afternoon from 4 o'clock until 7 were all voiced in highest degree of praise. The Sands is overwhelming in its architectural design, distinctly different in overall conception, yet warm and inviting - destined to become the most talked about hotel in the Western Hemisphere.

Greeting the thousands of well-wishers, principal owner Jake Freedman heard over and over again the word "breathtaking."

Commented the former Texan, dressed comfortably in sport short slacks and a five-gallon hat: "I talked to so many people I lost my voice. I didn't know so many people knew me. They all had good things to say about the Sands. I'm happy and I will try and do my best for everyone."

Jack Entratter, the big six-foot-plus general manager and producer for upcoming extravaganzas in the gorgeous Copa Room, was tired from the big push to having things ready for today's grand opening. "This is the biggest thing I have ever done," he said with a deep voice rumbling. "Tremendous, Most of all. I like Las Vegas. I want to bring in new productions, top names, new talent and surround the shows with the best supporting acts- and of course the most beautiful showgirls in the world. Many of the shows planned for next year will play for more than two weeks, some of them six. We'll create our own packages here, equally as good or better than New York."

A meander through the crowded casino lobby, Garden Room, Copa Room brought fourth some views of artistic innovations. The use of copper lighting fixtures becomes a neat color touch blending with the earth and nature tones of the carpet walls and ceiling. The bar mural, achieved in bas relief ceramic figures over panoramic Nevada scenes was created by Allan Stewart of Claremont College, California. And for the most unique treatment of materials forming tow dimensional murals in the Copa Room, and Garden Room, Tony Duquette depicted plastic forms in masks, musical instruments, and Carnival in Rio scenes.

Decidedly unusual is the way in which architect Wayne McAllister designed the imposing front with imported Italian marble and took his treatment into the lobby and casino. Instead of high polish, the grained marble is finished in rough-texture. Wide use of natural and stained cork is noted throughout, making for contemporary smartness in design and to quiet sounds in the various rooms.

The tour turned up some familiar faces, and some new friends. Just inside the front door, chief of security Bev Perkins kept traffic flowing easily. At various points throughout the building, ran into Hi Powell, assistant chief of security, Al Barnes, Tony Moskos, Roy Humphreys and Doc Martin. And, over at the front desk met the resident manager Doug Richard and head bellman Vane Weidenkoff. Mrs. Lee Bradley made the introductions of Judson Hughes, Betty Biehn, and Raymond Love. Larry Carro popped his head out from reservation cubby-hole of the Copa Room, and while we were gabbing, maitre de Joaquin Norriega, recently of the Mocambo, came by to check on tonight's listings. His assistant Joseph Benson was looking over table arrangements with captians Andre Penard and Glenn Lockwood.

Eddie Levinson eased through the multitude in the casino to shake hands, and while we were trading adjectives about the new spot, Karl and Betty Maier yelled a hello. Al Freeman, publicity chief, came pushing along with Desert Sea News bureau's Jack Pepper and Dave Lees.

Saw Virginia Hobbs of Life mag jotting down some ideas for her photog to cover when she sets up operations for tomorrow's clicks. Eleanor Roth, secretary to Jack Entratter, threaded her way through the mob looking for her boss.

Working my way past the casino and Copa Room through the arcade and t the Terrace Room, ran into an old school chum from Pasadena. Romaine Hixon, one of the Barker Bros' carpet men who put down miles of deep pile coverings. Said he, "I've been on plenty jobs and have laid plenty of carpet in the finest hotels, but this one tops 'em all. This guy Freedman went first class all the way." A quick handshake with Sy Devore, who will operate the mens shop and howdy to Steve Perlow, former musician with Elliot Lawrence, now with Devore's Sands haberdashery. Eileen Tegeler rushed through the arcade flashing a greeting and invite to stop by Shkey Toushin's Jewel Box where she's doing some selling behind the counter.

Nothing but excitement all over the place as Las Vegans turned out en masse to see the superlative Sands. In all of their comments and expressions, I seldom have heard such panegyrics. And if Mr. Greenspun cannot find that one in his dictionary, here is the definition: "Speech or writing which bestows high praises upon some person, thing, act, or achievement."