Howard Hughes

Billionaire Howard Hughes bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to re-position the hotel’s trademark neon sign

Billionaire Howard Hughes bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to re-position the hotel’s trademark neon sign, which was visible from his bedroom and had been keeping him up at night.

The wealthy and aging Howard Hughes, accompanied by his entourage of personal aides, began moving from one hotel to another, always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse. During the last ten years of his life, from 1966 to 1976, Hughes lived in hotels inBeverly Hills, Boston, Las Vegas, Nassau, Freeport, Vancouver, London, Managua, Acapulco, and others.

On November 24, 1966 (Thanksgiving Day), Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn. Because he refused to leave the hotel, and to avoid further conflicts with the owners, Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967. The hotel’s eighth floor became the nerve center of his empire and the ninth-floor penthouse became Hughes’ personal residence. Between 1966 and 1968, Hughes bought several other hotels/casinos such as the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark Hotel and Casino, and the Sands. He bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, visible from Hughes’ bedroom, which apparently had been keeping him up at night. After Hughes left the Desert Inn, Hotel Employees would enter his suite and discover his drapes had not been opened in the 9 years he had lived there and had even rotted through.  An unusual incident marked an earlier Hughes connection to Las Vegas: during his 1954 engagement at the Last Frontier hotel in Las Vegas, flamboyant entertainer Liberace mistook Howard Hughes for his lighting director, instructing him to instantly bring up a blue light should he start to play Clair de lune. Hughes nodded in compliance. Then the hotel’s entertainment director arrived to properly introduce Hughes to Liberace.

Hughes wanted to change the image of Las Vegas to something more glamorous than it was. As Hughes wrote in a memo to an aide, “I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car.” Hughes bought several local television stations (including KLAS-TV).

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