Riviera Hotel & Casino - Celebrate 60 Outstanding Years



With its doors closed to the public Monday, May 4, 2015, the renowned Riviera Hotel & Casino is gone, and it’s a sad state for Las Vegas, as we’re losing some real history with the Riviera closing and being destroyed. The hotel and casino built in phases, which was always a bit weird, like your grandpa’s house additions—adding box after box to the existing structure, which made the flow horribly frustrating. But the property had an immense amount of history and nostalgia surrounding it, making it legendary as the first high-rise on the Strip. 

From Liberace to Neil Sedaka, Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, Dean Martin to Steve Martin, and from Crazy Girls and Splash to Martin Scorsese’s classic Vegas film, Casino, (which was shot on property)—here’s a look back at some of the highlights, fun facts, celebrity sightings and rarely-seen photos that have helped build the iconic stature of the Las Vegas Strip’s first high-rise hotel and casino.

Legendary piano virtuoso, Liberace, who cut the ribbon at the property’s grand opening, became the Las Vegas Strip’s highest-paid entertainer of the time at $50,000 per week.

Pia Zadora is seen above with legendary singer Engelbert Humperdinck, who in addition to making his Las Vegas debut at the property in 1969, recorded the live album, Live at the Riviera, Las Vegas. The album, which was released in 1972, peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart.  

Premiering June 22, 1985, Splash was produced by choreographer Jeff Kutash and was touted as an “aquacade” of music and dance. Featuring a troupe of gorgeous showgirls, glamorous costumes, dynamic dancers and a 20,000 gallon water tank, the show ended its long run at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in 2006.

The IFB World Championship Boxing heavyweight match between four-time defending champion Larry Holmes and the undefeated Michael Spinks was held on Sept. 21, 1985 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. The fight, which was considered an instant classic, was held at the hotel’s outdoor arena, in front of more than 11,000 people, and was also broadcast live on HBO. Spinks defeated Holmes, who was a six-to-one favorite, in a controversial split decision that would be called the “Upset of the Year” by The Ring Magazine.

1) The Crazy Girls
2) Bob Newhart, Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin

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