June milestones

On June 1, 1956: Nellis Air Force Base becomes home to aerial demonstration squadron, The Thunderbirds. Their aerial acrobatics dazzle those of us on the ground, leaving us with slackened jaws, neckaches and a desire to re-watch Top Gun over and over (and over) again. 

On June 1, 1962: Mary Tyler Moore marries Grant Tinker at the Dunes. And a little voice in the pop-culture ether whispers: She might just make it after all.

On June 1, 1968: Wayne Newton marries Elaine Okamura at the Flamingo Las Vegas. Their union lasts until 1985. Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen …

On June 1, 2010: Las Vegas media matriarch/Las Vegas Sun Publisher Barbara Greenspun dies.  She had survived to see the Sun win a Pulitzer Prize the previous year.

On June 2, 2011: Huge “Paintbrush Gateway” neon sculptures are dedicated at the Las Vegas Arts District entrance on Charleston Boulevard. “The Paintbrush Gateway projects a stroke, 1,600 feet long, going into darkness, thus echoing an artist’s excursion into the unknown,” said their creator, artist Dennis Oppenheim, in a posthumous statement released after his death from cancer earlier in the year.  

On June 3, 1964: UNLV holds its first commencement ceremony. And they’ve developed this odd habit of doing it every year. 

On June 4, 1969: The Binion’s Horseshoe Million Dollar display is reinstalled after casino owner Benny Binion’s original landmark — a collection of 100 $10,000 gold certificates — had been a must-see landmark for picture-snapping tourists in a city that thrives on the dash for cash.

On June 5, 2017: The McCarran International Airport passenger tunnel opens connecting the D gates to Terminal 3 customs and baggage claim area. That cut the waiting time to find out your luggage had been rerouted to Fiji. … Just kidding.

On June 6, 1974: Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald open at Caesars Palace. No single stage could have held more musical royalty on it at the same time.  

On June 8, 1956: The Silver Palace, Las Vegas’ first-two-story club, opens, featuring (drum roll, please! Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr) an escalator that connected the casino to a lower-level restaurant — the first such contraption in Southern Nevada.  Talk about Vegas thrill rides!

On June 14, 1954: Groundbreaking begins on the New Frontier, a property that had also been known as The Last Frontier and just The Frontier — as well as the Pair-o-Dice, the Ambassador Night Club and the 91 Club. It was also the site of Elvis Presley’s initial — and underwhelming — Vegas engagement in 1956, as well as the good-bye gig of Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1970.

On June 14, 1963: Betty White and Password emcee Allen Ludden wed at the Sands. They remain married until his death in 1981. And the password is … love.

On June 14, 1986: Mobster Tony “The Ant” Spilotro is murdered in Indiana. His role in Vegas history is one of the reasons why the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement — aka The Mob Museum — is one of our most wildly popular attractions.

On June 17, 2002: Centennial celebration fireworks explode over Hoover Dam, commemorating the 1902 passage of the National Reclamation Act that funded irrigation projects in 20 Western states. It was the best thing to happen to water in these parts until fountains started dancing to “Viva Las Vegas” in front of Bellagio.

On June 19, 1990: Vegas goes medieval — but in our own unique way, with slot machines — when the Excalibur hotel-casino opens. And if at Caesars Palace, every visitor is an emperor, then they are all kings (as in Arthur) or at the very least, wizards (as in Merlin) here, where the stylized castle architecture has become a Strip signature. Huzzah!

On June 20, 1947: Flamingo Hotel boss Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is murdered in Beverly Hills. Calif., at the home of gal pal Virginia Hill. Yes, it’s history — swaggering Vegas-style.    

On June 21, 1996: With a price sticker of $344 million, the Monte Carlo hotel-casino opens where the Dunes once stood. Named to recall the Place du Casino in Monte Carlo, the new resort featured chandelier domes, marble floors, ornate fountains, neon-classical archways and gas-lit promenades. In other words: a classy joint. It has since morphed into its current incarnation as the Park MGM. Still a classy joint.

On June 22, 2017: Former Palace Station signs are retired to the Neon Museum — where the greatness of Las Vegas eternally glows.

On June 25, 1954: Fernando Llamas weds Arlene Dahl at Last Frontier’s Little Chapel of the West. Do we really need to point out that they no doubt looked maaaaaah-velous?

On June 28, 1997: Mike Tyson does a bit more than just nuzzle Evander Holyfield’s ear. He does more than just nibble it. He chomps it. And “The Bite Fight” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is stamped into sports history.

— Steve Bornfeld



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