LAS VEGAS (AP) — Popular Frank Sinatra tunes in Las Vegas hotel lobbies have been replaced by the likes of Sia and Rihanna. The final tower of the famed Riviera Hotel and Casino has fallen, and the Sands Hotel and Casino is long gone. A tribute show to the Rat Pack draws mainly retirees.
True, Sinatra’s Sin City presence is fading, and many sites connected to Ol’ Blue Eyes long have disappeared. But Sinatra fans can still locate pieces of his Las Vegas legacy with a little homework.
In downtown Las Vegas, amid the street performers and costumed superheroes taking selfies with visitors, Sinatra aficionados can have a drink at a bar reportedly frequented by the Rat Pack — the name given to Sinatra and his pals, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. The Bar Prohibition inside the historic Golden Gate Hotel and Casino is surrounded by black and white photos of the trio. The venue even has a sign that says, “Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin drank here. Make your own history at Bar Prohibition!”
The vintage feel is dampened, however, by video poker machines lining the small bar. And you likely won’t be hearing Sinatra songs. Instead, dealers in fedoras sling cards to the likes of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
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Farther down Fremont Street sits the Golden Nugget, a casino where an older Sinatra headlined from 1984 to 1989. A dressing room remains somewhat intact from his days as a performer. The casino’s flashy front gives visitors a feeling that they are entering a classic Sinatra venue and inside the period furniture completes the backdrop.
Outside downtown, fans can grab dinner at the Golden Steer Steak House. Sinatra and Elvis Presley both ate at this half-century-old hangout (though not together), and there is even a booth named in honor of Ol’ Blue Eyes. With reservations, visitors can have a meal in that private booth and pick a dish as Sinatra would have after a long show.
Along the strip, catching any Sinatra ambiance can be more challenging. Only the art deco-style Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel remains from the original “Ocean’s 11,” a 1960 film featuring Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Sinatra didn’t headline the Flamingo but did play at the nearby Caesars Palace — a hotel dramatically transformed since the crooner’s days. The Sands Hotel, where Sinatra recorded a live album, has been replaced by The Venetian.
Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” sometimes is played during a water show at the Bellagio and the fountains of Wynn Las Vegas regularly blast Rat Pack songs.
Inside the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino is an upscale Italian restaurant named Sinatra. It houses the singer’s Academy Award for best supporting actor in “From Here to Eternity” and his Grammy Award for “Strangers in the Night.”
Two blocks from the strip, fans can catch a 75-minute tribute show “The Rat Pack is Back!” at Tuscany Suites & Casino. Come early and have dinner before performers re-enact the classic show from the 1960s — complete with ethnic jokes and alcohol-fueled humor to fit the era’s sensibilities.
“It’s 1960, folks,” says David DeCosta, playing a fedora-wearing Sinatra. “We can say whatever the hell we want.”
Sinatra would never have been seen walking around Vegas without a suit jacket and tie on, but today it’s rare to find visitors not wearing shorts and T-shirts.
One of the few Sinatra markers you’ll find here is on the city’s Walk of Stars. In 2010, Las Vegas paid homage to Sinatra and Martin by giving them each a star along Las Vegas Boulevard.
“Just trying to have a little fun here, folks,” Sinatra and Martin used to tell audiences.
Las Vegas has transformed itself in many ways in the years since Sinatra’s heyday, but you can still find that spirit of fun tracing his footsteps here.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .