Updated August 23, 2023 - 7:27 am
Debbie Reynolds was known to be untiring about presentation. Visitors to the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel could find the legendary actress and entertainer working as a member of the housekeeping staff, long after the crowds thinned.
Master magician Lance Burton once remembered such a moment. He pulled into the hotel one night to see if he might actually run into Reynolds. He did.
“She was inside, dressed in this beautiful, sparkly gown,” Burton recalled during the 2017 UNLV College of Fine Arts induction ceremony. “She was pushing a vacuum cleaner. I’ll never forget that.”
Sparkly gowns (though we can’t promise that one) are on display at “The Persona, The Person: Debbie Reynolds in Las Vegas” from Sept. 5 to Oct. 26 at City Hall’s Grand Gallery in downtown Las Vegas. Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, and the Reynolds estate are partnering with The Neon Museum to present the pop-up attraction.
The Reynolds exhibition is also the centerpiece of the Neon Museum’s second annual Duck Duck Shed, a citywide cultural, design and entertainment festival taking place Oct. 4-7.
The exhibit is free for all ages at the Grand Gallery of City Hall. Exhibition hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Days are added during Duck Duck Shed on Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7, hours also 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Maintaining entertainment history, and the personal items of that history, is a Reynolds’ family trait.
“Mom was a very hands-on person,” Fisher says. “She was also a major fan of the entertainment industry in general, and the stars of yesterday. So she took it upon herself to preserve that history, even when no one else cared.”
The exhibit features Reynolds’ handmade gowns, costumes and personal effects from her and her family’s time living and performing in Las Vegas from 1962 to 2014. The display includes memorabilia from her long friendship with Liberace, to the red-beaded tuxedo she wore while headlining the Riviera.
Reynolds starred at the hotel in 1962, after signing Las Vegas’ first million-dollar contract. She continued to perform as a recurring showroom star through 2014, at South Point Showroom.
Fisher has moved the Reynolds’ families personal collection to his facilities in Las Vegas. These include items from his late sister, Carrie Fisher. For the upcoming exhibition, he’s picked several stage costumes, photos, videos and photos, including an exclusive clip and costume from “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
“Every day, The Neon Museum tells the stories of Las Vegas through our Boneyard experience,” Neon Museum Executive Director Aaron Berger said in a statement. “Curating and presenting exhibitions of ‘legacy’ figures in Las Vegas is an exciting new extension of our programming. We’re so honored Todd Fisher entrusted The Neon Museum to tell this incredible story.”
Fisher fondly remembers growing his mother’s effort to build a resort and museum centered on entertainment. The Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel operated from 1992 to 1999, with its 350-seat showroom and a 100-seat theater. Over the years it operated as the Clarion, Greek Isles and (prior to Reynolds’ ownership) the Paddlewheel.
The building was razed in 2015, and is to be the site of developer Lorenzo Doumani’s $850 million Majestic Las Vegas hotel.
“Mom gave me her costumes many years ago, and she wondered why I never sold them at auction,” Fisher says. “She asked, ‘Why aren’t you going to sell them? This is the time,’ and I said, no. And when it came time to do the big auction, I declined to sell her costumes. And she said, ‘Why aren’t you going to sell them? This is the time to sell them?’”
Fisher had other ideas.
“I said, ‘I just feel like I shouldn’t. I’m going to keep them,’” the director and Hollywood historian says. “I’m glad I did, because it is important to be able to tell this story.”
Column faves John Di Domenico and Carrot Top shared the stage Tuesday night at Luxor’s Atrium Showroom. Di Domenico turned up unbilled, as Donald Trump. “I love this, I love this, everyone’s standing …”
Di Domenico-as-Trump said to a totally seated crowd. It was Di Domenico’s second appearance in the show. We expect more from these orange-hued comics.
Tease this …
A chic new hotspot is launching at the end of the month at one of the Strip’s luxury resorts. Hint: Go toward the cash.
And this …
A popular Vegas broadcast personality is set to make a pretty cool in-market move. This show will be properly mic’d up. There’s a hint for ya.
Machinery on track
In the first week of September, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Las Vegas is hauling in the big equipment for its January 2024 opening. We are not talking about amps and light rigging (though those are coming, too).
Shelton’s team is bringing in a tractor to be hung upside-down from above the music hall. Images of this beast indicate it is an International Farmall, a company that stopped producing such equipment in 1985.
Cover it with mirrors, we suggest, because #Vegas.
Cool Hang Alert
Guitar great Carlos Guerrero at 10 p.m. Friday at the OG Sand Dollar Lounge on Polaris and Spring Mountain. The guy is searing — searing, I tell you! — on the six-string. No cover. Try the pizza.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.