2 new photo books explore glamour of retro Las Vegas — PHOTOS

Updated November 25, 2017 - 8:25 pm

Nobody ever has accused Las Vegas of not being photogenic, and proof — as if any were needed — can be found in two new photo books that explore Las Vegas’ retro glamour.

“Vegas Gold: The Entertainment Capital of the World 1950-1980” by David Wills offers color and black-and-white images from Las Vegas’ mid-century heyday, bookended by text from Wayne Newton and Donny and Marie Osmond.

And in “Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic &Kitschy American Life &Style,” author Charles Phoenix devotes several pages to color photos of vintage Vegas.

In “Vegas Gold,” Wills features diverse Vegas-centric images ranging from archival shots taken by Las Vegas News Bureau photographers to movie and TV promotional pictures, programs from long-gone shows, and newsier photos such as Evel Knievel jumping over Caesars Palace’s fountains. Although some photos have become well-known or even iconic — the floating table game in the Sands pool, for example — many will be new, even to Las Vegas history buffs.

Wills, who has written several pop culture, film, fashion and architecture photo retrospectives, said he has collected photographs, negatives and transparencies since he was a teenager. “It was a real passion of mine and it just developed,” he said. “I started to do photographic exhibits, and from there started to do the books.”

A book of Las Vegas photos was a natural. During the late ’80s, Wills, then in his late teens and living in Australia, would visit Las Vegas each year with his parents.

“I knew the first time I ever went, it was almost like a visit to a world’s fair. It had a surreal quality to it. It was incredibly appealing,” he said.

“I was fascinated by what would be considered the golden period of Vegas, from the late ’40s to the late ’70s. I really wanted to pay homage to that photographically in the book.”

While “Vegas Gold” is “basically about the history of entertainment in Las Vegas during that time period, I also wanted to include as much of the architecture as I could, because that, to me, is a big part of the entertainment,” Wills said.

When Phoenix was compiling his latest tribute to classic and kitschy Americana, he decided to include photos of Las Vegas for a simple, even obvious, reason: It would have been, he said, “completely irresponsible for me to have left Las Vegas out.”

Phoenix has been collecting photos, postcards, slides and snapshots for more than 25 years. Included in his book are shots of a ’50s showgirl slot machine, nighttime along a pre-canopy Fremont Street, Strip Polynesian restaurant Aku Aku and the Stardust sign (… “the ultimate example of sparkling space-age super signage to have ever graced our galaxy”).

“Americana” can mean many things. “At its essence, Americana is kind of the core of what we are and what we’ve done and what we’ve made,” Phoenix said. “In the scheme of American pop culture, Las Vegas is unparalleled.”

Contact John Przybys at reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like