Fabled Las Vegas casino closes after 60 years

Story highlights

  • The Riviera casino closes after 60 years on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Its notable entertainers included Dean Martin, Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Barbra Streisand

(CNN)And another one bites the dust.

One of the few remaining vestiges of Vegas' Rat Pack era shuttered when the Riviera Hotel & Casino closed its doors at noon Monday, ending a colorful 60-year run on the Las Vegas Strip.
The first high-rise resort on the Strip when it opened in 1955, the Riviera hosted all the big names in its heyday. Liberace headlined its grand opening, Elvis Presley played there and Dean Martin -- who had an ownership stake -- had a regular Riviera gig in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
    Among the other notable entertainers who appeared on Riviera stages: Louis Armstrong, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, Barbra Streisand, Orson Welles and the Village People.
    The 2,100-room hotel even hosted a heavyweight title fight in 1985 between Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks.
    But its various owners struggled off and on with bankruptcy, and by the late 1990s "the Riv," as its regulars called it, was eclipsed by a new wave of flashier-themed resorts such as the Mirage, the Bellagio and the Mandalay Bay. In recent years, as neighboring hotels were torn down, the resort also suffered from a decline in foot traffic at the faded north end of the Strip.
    The Riviera was known mostly in its later years for hosting "Crazy Girls," a long-running topless revue immortalized with a bronze statue outside the resort showing a line of thong-clad female dancers, their bare bottoms worn to a shine by repeated gropings from passers-by. "Crazy Girls," along with its infamous bronze-butts statue, is moving down the Strip to Planet Hollywood.
    The Riviera's 1,300 employees worked their last shifts Sunday and Monday amid throngs of curiosity-seekers crowding the casino for one last glimpse of an old-Vegas landmark. Shortly after noon, security guards began herding people to the exits, and the hotel's website was pulled down.
    The hotel-casino now joins the Dunes, the Sands, the Sahara, the Aladdin and other departed resorts from a bygone Strip era.
    The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the 26-acre property in February for $182.5 million and will make it part of a revamped convention center complex.
    A spokesman for that group told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that no timetable has been established for the Riviera's demolition. The resort's furnishings -- including gaming tables, chandeliers and flat-screen TVs -- will be liquidated in a sale beginning May 14.