|Just about equal to a
Jack-Deuce-Nine with a limit bet on the line. I wasn't really playing "21,"
but it sure did turn out that way. The Stardust Hotel/Casino was preparing
for their newest edition of the world famous production, "Lido de Paris."
Donn Arden was the highly acclaimed director. The Lido had been the most
spectacular running production extravaganza in the history of Nevada
entertainment - perhaps the world. Exotic new costumes, imported ostrich
feathers, all tied together with a dynamic state of the art stage and
lighting display to compliment the finest trained dancers and showgirls ever
to set foot on the American stage. Pre-production costs were approaching
$10,000,000.00. An awful lot of wood going back into the 1970's.
Now we needed a super attraction. Siegfried and Roy was my target. Their
contract at the former MGM (now Bally's) was due to expire. An ambitious
young man named Bernie Yuman, a bearded gofer, was a hang-around fixture of
sorts. He seemed eager to accept any challenge within reasonable limits.
Bernie was living on short street. Good gift of gab, an aggressive
personality, certainly not the bashful type. I put him to the test, or
perhaps to the task, that could capture lighting in a bottle. I offered
Bernie five hundred bucks if he could arrange a meeting in my office with
the two magicians. Bernie was excited. He had twenty minutes before the
finale of the second show at the MGM and hit the front door of the Stardust
at a dead run. Bernie gained an audience with Siegfried and Roy.
He returned promptly and assured me that a meeting was set to take
place in my office within 48 hours. He was excited, breathless and ready to
collect the bounty. Marker down! I quickly sensed a feeling of compatibility
during our preliminary discussions. Money was the easy part. I simply
doubled their MGM salary and offered them a rock solid contract. Still a
long way from a done deal. They requested an elaborate custom designed
dressing room, space for lions, tigers and panthers. I was cautiously
confident that I could satisfy their basic requests. One more hurdle and
I've got a handshake and a potential blockbuster. My two talented artists
and their company were requesting star billing. Since acts were never
starred, just featured, this hurdle could become the deal breaker. LIDO de
PARIS STARRING SIEGFRIED and ROY was no piece of cake to arrange. The
billionaire Frenchman, Joseph Clerico owned the rights to the name and the
The request posed an array of problems. Here it was – first and goal
inside the 5 yard line and I'm up against Madame Bluebell and the entire
French Connection who were totally opposed to Siegfried and Roy being
starred. I knew we had a winner in the making, and offered my personal
guarantee to Mr. Clerico that
the new Lido would surpass anything in the world including the Lido in
Paris, the Paradis Latin, Casino de Paris, Folies Bergere and The Moulin
Rouge – all very tough acts to follow.
Clerico cautiously gave me an amber colored light that would help seal
the deal. Clerico's trust was the key factor. Lido de Paris, starring
Siegfried and Roy was ready to be placed on the tallest marque in the state.
It was a go. The rest is history. Marvelous reviews, the hottest ticket in
town, everyone is jubilant, other than the MGM's President, Al Benedict and
the Vice President, Bernie Rothkopf. They were asleep at the switch and by
the time they woke up, the best show on earth was out of their Casino and
down the street.
This was the steal of the decade, probably
second only to the Brinks armored car robbery. The only difference was, one
was legal, straight up and above board, the other was not. We didn't carry
shotguns nor did we wear masks. The show had everything you might imagine.
The entire hand picked cast was spectacular – did we ever pack them in.
Generally, it was standing room only. The audiences were startled,
enthusiastic and completely entertained. I watched the show virtually every
night. I fantasized with them as we watched the most beautiful group of
women ever assembled under one roof. The Casino no longer had to subsidize
Lido de Paris. Siegfried and Roy were thrilled and genuinely euphoric when I
presented them with a brand new sparkling silver Rolls Royce Corniche at the
entrance to the Stardust Casino on behalf of our corporate jubilation. Our
families became united. We've been friends ever since.
The bearded gofer moved from Short Street to Wall Street projecting a
confident swagger and positive hysteria. Young Bernie was on his way,
laughing all the way to the bank with a mega-jackpot. Some guys never look
back and Mr. Bernie Yuman became a notable power broker throughout the world
of entertainment. Steve Wynn understood the enormous value of the two
performers and the magnificence of their total package. When the opportunity
presented itself, he quickly recaptured Siegfried, Roy and the bearded
Apostle for The Mirage Hotel/Casino. Great catch, Steve! Remember, success
will always be subjected to critical review. Even Microsoft wizard Bill
Gates has his critics and that fellow, believe it or not, really can walk on
water. I'm sure The Mirage has an Olympic size swimming pool just in case
you may feel the need for a casual tune up. . . . Stay tuned.
Get on the right side of "LEFTY" by calling toll free 1-877-2CASINO, his
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