Flamingo Capri
Donated by Howard Klein

I have not been able to find our when the Flamingo-Capri officially opened.

On May 17, 1959, an announcement was made by George E. Goldberg, owner of the Midwest Hotel Co., and President of the Flamingo-Capri Corporation, that construction had started on the lavish, 180 room Flamingo-Capri, which was to adjoin the Flamingo Hotel on the north.

Goldberg stated the $2 million dollar ultra-modern motel be completed by August 15, 1959, and have many innovations never used on the Strip. Three buildings, one with 104 rooms, the second with 36 rooms, and the last with 40 rooms, will comprise the motel which will have a 500 foot long, 80 foot wide artificial lake.

Goldberg said Bill Capri of the Flamingo would be associated with him in the venture. The Flamingo Hotel would provide the Flamingo Capri with hotel and room service, with transportation between the motel and hotel by motorized carts. All hotel facilities will be available to the guests of the motel.

Each room had its own sun deck overlooking the artificial lake. Fronting on the lake will be a cantilevered pool and deck area extending one-half the length of the lake. Two heated pools will provide swimming facilities for guests and a large reflection" will be an integral part of the landscaping. Albert Parvin & Company of Los Angeles was contracted for the interior decorating. Architects for the motel were Douglas Honnold and John Rex of Beverly Hills, California. The general contractor was Maurice N. Aroff of Beverly Hills, California. Maury Aroff was the General Contractor who moved into the Flamingo Hotel during construction. Aroff was also the contractor who finished the Stardust.

The ground breaking ceremony was held late May, 1959.

Artist's rendition
Artist's Rendition


According to an undated brochure, the resort-motel advertised 200 rooms magnificently designed; custom-made furnishings, private dressing alcove; TV, radio and phone in every room; individually-controlled air conditioning; complete hotel services; Continental breakfast; shuttle service to the Flamingo Hotel; show reservations; baby sitters; Coffee Shop & Restaurant on premises which is open 24 hours; and from the patron's own private balcony, a spectacular panoramic view of the Venetian Canal, patio gardens and pool terrace.

The brochure stated "Surrounded by its own Venetian Canal, spacious sun deck and sunken patio gardens, the Flamingo Capri truly eminates a Continental atmosphere. The sun-drenched pool terrace is transformed into a nighttime wonderland with glittering torch lights and dancing colored fountains." The resort contained studio apartments, family suites, apartments with kitchens - singles or doubles.

Logowater at night

In 1964, Flamingo Capri razed the ranch house apartments at the rear of the property for additional parking space for Goldberg's Riverboat Casino which eventually became Harrah's.

In 1965, George Ernest was appointed General Manager of the Capri.

In July of 1965, it was reported that everything had been approved for the Flamingo Queen and the plans were being drawn up. Gene Tuttle would be the PR Man/Entertainment Director.

In 1966, it was stated that many entertainers were booking Ranch Rooms at the complex. Ads for the Capri stated they had "specials" for entertainers. During this year, it advertised TVs, radios, phones, maid service, coffee shop for just $20 per week. Apartment were $30 per week and up. The address was listed as 3535 Las Vegas Blvd., South.

Captains Cabin

It was also reported during this year that George Goldberg's Captain's Cabin was doing a great business. This was an intimate lounge and liquor shop in front of the Capri which was becoming the new meeting place for many of the stars. It was reported that one of the first of many celebrities seen there was Fats Domino. Goldberg and bar manager Johnny Keintz came up with the idea of a place where customers could sip on their refreshments and watch the activities on the Strip. Goldberg had also announced that he was beginning construction after Labor Day of the new Flamingo Queen (I have no further information on this).

In 1967, Capri advertised TV, radio, and phones. The coffee shop was open 24 hours and there was no charge for room service. The Capri also held the Captain's Cabin Cocktail Lounge with packaged liquor.

Ralph Engelstad saw a dream in the Flamingo Capri Motel. Engelstad's beginnings were in Minnesota and North Dakota. Engelstad graduated from University of North Dakota in 1954, a bachelor's in commerce. During his time at UND he was a goalie for the ice hockey team. He moved to Las Vegas in 1959.

In 1971, Engelstad decided to purchase the grounds and building of the Capri.

Cecil Lynch

In 1971, a picture was taken of bartender Cecil Lynch at the bar in the lounge of the Capri.


Acting as his own contractor, Engelstad built some low-rise buildings on the site and employed a staff of 250. Gaming began at the Flamingo Capri a year later in 1972.

Left of the Flamingo sign the Flamingo Capri sign can be seen

In 1974, The Imperial Palace doing business as the Flamingo Capri opened the East and North buildings, along with the addition of the Shangri-la pool.

Imperial Palace

Shangri-la Pool

On November 1, 1979, the beautiful resort dropped the name Flamingo Capri, the Imperial Palace came into its own and the number of employees grew to 1,100.

Englestad selected an Oriental theme for its originality and personal appeal. Influenced by Japanese temple architect, Merlin Barth, the Imperial installed traditional blue tile imported from Japan for the roof.

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

The Oriental theme was carried out inside as well, influencing everything from decor to food service and employee uniforms. In the casino, carved dragons and giant wind-chime chandeliers compete with gaming tables for the visitors' attention.

Entertainment began in the Imperial Theatre showroom in June, 1980. The showroom seats 850 and since its opening, has featured top stars as well as exciting revue shows. Its use was also expanded as a site for taping sports and entertainment television specials for network and cable TV broadcast.

In 1981, another innovation took place under Engelstad's direction. He instituted the Senior Christmas Party, an annual event, which provides low-income senior citizens and non-ambulatory convalescent center residents with a complimentary holiday dinner and show.

In July of 1981, the eight table poker room was managed by Dan Samples. 7 card stud $1-3, $3-6, $5-10. Hold-em $1-2, $2-4.

Engelstad in one of his cars

On December 1, 1981, the Imperial Palace opened its Auto Collection with just 200 automobiles. This collection has since grown to include more than 800 antique, classic and special-interest vehicles spanning 100 years of automotive history. The collection is located on the 5th floor of the parking facility and is continually rotating in and out of the Auto Collection from storage and nationwide tours to give it a fresh appeal for repeat visitors. The collection has included Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 Cadillac, Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 Chrysler Imperial, Harry S. Truman's 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan, Franklin D. Roosevelt's unrestored 1936 V-16 Cadillac, Herbert Hoover's 1929 Cadillac, Woodrow Wilson's 1917 Pierce Arrow, Adolf Hitler's 1936 Mercedes Benz 770K, Benito Mussolini's 1939 Alfa Romeo, Emperor Hirohito's 1935 Packard, Czar Nicholas II's 1914 Rolls-Royce, Juan Peron's 1939 straight-8 Packard, Lazaro Cardenas' 1939 V-12 Packard, Pope Paul VI's 1966 Chrysler Imperial, King of Siam's 1928 Delage, Queen Wilhemina's 1933 Buick, Elvis Presley's 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, Liberace's 1981 Simmer, W.C. Fields' 1938 Cadillac, Howard Hughes' 1954 Chrysler, Leo "Pancho" Carrillo's 1948 Chrysler, Gypsy Rose Lee's 1931 Minerva, Marilyn Monroe's 1955 Lincoln Capri and motorcycles owned by Steve McQueen, Clark Gable and Sammy Davis, Jr. Also included are military vehicles, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, taxis, fire engines and some old-fashioned gas pumps.

Hughes Sedan
1954 Chrysler New Yorker DLX Sedan owned by Howard Hughes
Donated by Howard Klein

Auto CollectionAuto Collection

Classic Cars

A year later, in August, 1982, the number of hotel rooms increased to 1,500.

In 1982, Imperial showcased Russian singer Djan Tatlian for $15.00. At one time Tatlian enjoyed superstar status in Russia, but he fell into disfavor with Communist Party bosses when he did not perform the required number of patriotic songs. Talian escaped to the West in 1974.

On May 5, 1983, the Imperial opened "Legends In Concert" with live re-creations of such greats as Elvis Presley, The Four Tops, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Righteous Brothers and many more. This show has had some strange moments including the night Kenny Rogers walked on stage to do himself without prior notice.

When the staff found out Rogers was performing as himself, they decided to take a poll of how good he was. Some spectators said "Wow, that guy's good. Never seen Kenny Rogers done any better than that." One gentleman stated "The guy was OK, but nothing like the real Kenny Rogers."

All this occurred shortly after Rogers bought a home in Vegas and he was constantly being confronted by people who wondered if he was part of Legends in Concert. He called to share this information with the show's producer, who invited him to appear for an evening. Rogers accepted on the condition his appearance was not announced.

After the show Rogers, without ever letting on he was the real McCoy, stood outside the showroom signing autographs with no one suggesting he was anyone other than another singer in the show.

In 1983, Legends in Concert, The Mickey Finn Show and Lovelace Watkins in Concertwere were showcased. The Maitre d' was Sam Fisher.

The Geisha Lounge showcased Streetcar, Chuy's Co., Bruce Zarka, and The Zaras.

Chuy's Co.

IP Executives

In late August or early September of 1983, Executives of the Imperial Palace and community service representatives met to plan three evenings at the resort for senior citizens just before Christmas. In the picture standing from left is Ed Crispell (Executive Director of the Imperial), Administrative Assistant Kris Engelstad Burns, wife of Imperial founder Betty Engelstad, Bob Light of the Senior Citizen Center, Mal Kalaghian, Ken Hehr, Tom Miller, Claudine Joseph, Myra Stade, and Stephanie Nielson (Director of Advertising, Publicity, and Entertainment at the Imperial).

Steve McQueen

From November 24-25, 1984, Imperial hosted the Steve McQueen Estate Auction.

In 1984, Imperial joined the Strip's acting force by appearing in Love Streams. Showcased during this year was Legends in Concert. The Maitre d' was Sam Miloro. The Mai Tai Paino Bar showcased Sergio Alberti.

The covered parking garage was expanded early in 1985 to accommodate over 1,000 vehicles.

Parking Structure

The Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert. During this year Legends won the EPY award as Show of the Year.

In 1985, the casino held 12 poker tables with Joe Palmarozzo as Manager.

The Kobe Steak House was set in an intimate dining room and adjoining bar on the first floor, just adjacent to the casino. It specialized in a variety of steaks and lobster with prices starting at $8.50.

Imperial showcased Legends in Concert. The Maitre d' was Sam Miloro. The Mai Tai Piano Bar showcased Sergio Alberti.

During the 1986 expansion program, meeting and convention facility space was increased, hotel rooms increased to 2,100 with the completion of Tower IV, and an additional 15,000 square feet of space was added to the casino. Also in 1986 Imperial acted again. This time in the movie Stripper.

A three-phase expansion project began in August of 1987, and was completed in July of 1989.

The first phase included a new Olympic-size swimming pool, a two-story waterfall, heated spa and pool side bar.

The second phase included a 547-room, 19-story tower, which brought the Imperial Palace's total guest room count to 2,637. The final phase of the expansion project extended the front of the hotel to the sidewalk and included a satellite casino, race and sports book, health and fitness center, and office complex.

In April of 1986, it was reported that Engelstad had thrown a birthday party for Nazi leader Adolph Hitler.

In 1988, it was also reported that Engelstad had thrown a second birthday party for Nazi leader Adolph Hitler.

In 1988, Engelstad and wife Betty established a $5 million endowment to the UND. In appreciation for Engelstad's philanthropy, the university renamed their hockey stadium Ralph Engelstad Arena.

On September 27, 1988, Gaming Control Board agents entered Imperial Palace where they found a "war room" which housed a multi-million dollar collection Nazi memorabilia. On October 6th, Engelstad apologized publicly for showing "poor taste" in housing the collection at his resort and throwing the parties, which he called "stupid and insensitive." He also denounced Hitler. The Nevada Gaming Commission commenced an investigation.

During this year Imperial showcased Legends in Concert.

In February, 1989, the five-month investigation ended with the issuance of a $1.5 million fine levied against Engelstad by the Nevada Gaming Commission for disgracing the state of Nevada. It was the second highest fine in Nevada gaming history. The highest was the $3 million fine issued in 1984 against the owners of the Stardust for skimming. The commission had considered pulling Engelstad's gaming license that was originally issued in July 1973 amid moral turpitude allegations. But Engelstad's apology, the removal of the Nazi memorabilia, and his otherwise clean record contributed to the panel's decision not to go that route.

The Race and Sports Book opened in September, 1989, as the most unique facility of its kind, featuring a color TV at each individual seat.

In late 1989, Producer-Director John Stuart, injected more pizzazz to "Legends in Concert" by also paying tribute to the superstars of today with re-creators of Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, Cher, Madonna, Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand to name a few. A Krypton red laser and projection system creates dazzling effects of patterns and light beams that mystify the audience.

Legends In ConcertLegends In Concert

In 1990, Showroom showcased Legends in Concert.

In November of 1991, the Imperial installed listening devices for the hearing-impaired in its 850-seat showroom. Infrared signals mounted on each side of the showroom and above the stage help transmit the sounds of the show to headphones worn by hearing-impaired guests.

Other facilities offered to guests include a shopping arcade of many fine retailers, unisex hair salon, a video arcade, "We've Only Just Begun" wedding chapel, travel agency, foreign currency exchange and a School of Gaming offering free lessons each weekday in blackjack and craps.

The Imperial Palace employed 2,600 people, 13% of whom have some form of disability. This fact alone sparked numerous awards to be bestowed upon the Imperial and the highest achievement coming in 1991 when the Imperial Palace was named the National Employer of the Year by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The Imperial Palace also has received a Distinguished Service Award from the National Council on Disability.

In May 3, 1992, the sports book achieved yet another first-in-the-world feature -- six levels of tiered seating, doubling its capacity and individual color TV monitors to 230.

During this year, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert.

Monroe Lincoln

In 1993, Marilyn Monroe's 1955 Lincoln Capri convertible was added to the Auto Collection. The car was coral pink with a pink and white interior and had the 26,000 original miles.

In March of 1993, the Imperial Palace took the Strip to another level with the opening of Resorts Medical Center, an independent 24-hour medical facility serving hotel employees, their families, Imperial Palace and other Las Vegas Strip hotels' guests.

During this year the Theatre showcased Legends in Concert.

In 1994, Elvis impersonator Carlini saw a Chuck Norris impersonator at a gambling table at the resort. Carlini walked up behind the man and stated "Are you looking for trouble?" Carlini was surprised when the man spun around to confront him and it was the real Chuck Norris. They both had a good laugh about the misunderstanding.

Also during this year Imperial hosted Game Day Report, a weekly TV series offering expert commentary on professional and college football games. Report host Bob Della Roca, a leading football betting authority, anchored a panel of noted pro football handicappers who engaged in a living discussion of the upcoming weekend's pro and college games. The 30 minute program was an opportunity for viewers to receive credible first-hand information.

During this year the Theatre showcased Legends in Concert. Poolside showcased Hawaiian Hot Luau.

January 19-22, 1995, Imperial showcased A Tribute to the Art of John Lennon, featuring more than 50 serigraphs, signed lithographs, and original drawings by the former Beatle. There was no admission charged and a catalog was on sale with many of the artworks available for purchase.

Wilson Arrow

In February 1995, Imperial added President Woodrow Wilson's 1917 Pierce Arrow Model A4-66 to her auto collection. Pierce Arrow began production in 1913. The trademark of the car was the placement and blending of the headlights into the front fenders.

During this year, Imperial showcased Legends in Concert. Hawaiian Hot Luau was a Polynesian revue which was held at poolside. During this year Legends was named Las Vegas' Best Entertainment Value for the third year by The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas.

In July of 1995, it was noted that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' 1961 Lincoln Continental were on display for the first time following renovations at the Auto Collection. One of just 2,857 such models built in 1961, the four-door Sultana White Lincoln features a 430-cubic inch V-8 with white and black leather trim, tinted windows and six-way power seats. At the time, the model was such a new concept and was so well received that the Industrial Design Institute bestowed top honors to the styling team for its work. The Onassis Lincoln, which has only 84,852 miles on the odometer, was placed adjacent to the President's Row.

Lincolns were the car of choice for the Kennedys. Having the Kennedys seen in Lincolns represented a fashion statement for the Ford Motor Company. Whether the Kennedys were in Washington or on the West Coast, there was always a Lincoln Continental available for them. It has been said that more than 100 Continentals were used while John Kennedy was in office.

The museum was then renovated and a lobby was added for the collection's signature car, a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial-Roadster.

In June of 1995, Imperial Palace began using paper bottles for the amenities offered in its guest rooms. Other companies in the hospitality industry were making a similar move but the Imperial Palace believes it was the first.

During this year Imperial hosted Game Day Report for the second year running.

In late 1995, Imperial held its auction of classic and exotic vehicles which attracted more than 7,000 collectors, dealers and enthusiasts from around the world. It produced sales that exceeded $3.6 million including the 1935 Duesenberg J. Torpedo Pheton for $300,000, 1992 Classic Roadster Sebring 5000 Kit Car for $9,000, 1955 Mercedes 300 SL for $156,000, 1934 Cadillac 452D (V-16) convertible sedan for $150,000, 1963 Ferrari Testa Rossa re-creation for $146,000, a 1949 Jaguar XK 120 roadster for $65,000, 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible for $65,000, a 1961 Chevy Corvette for $41,000, and a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible for $44,000. The proceeds from this sale benefited the National Kidney Foundation's extremely successful Kidney Kars program.

In December of 1995, some 1,000 seniors from convalescent homes in the Vegas area were guests of the resort for a holiday dinner of turkey with all the trimmings. They were also treated to an afternoon of entertainment by the Eldorado High School Madrigals.

In 1996, Imperial re-opened their Auto Collection following its annual renovation with a total of 750 antique, classic, and special interset vehicles representing nearly 100 years of automotive history. Vehicles added included a 1925 Model 45 Phaeton, a 1909 Pope Hartford Touring Car, a 1906 Ford Model N, a 1906 Waltham Orient, a 1913 Locomobile Touring Car, a 1905 Columbia Electric Brougham, a 1929 Ford Model AA one-ton truck, a 1929 Duesenberg Murphy convertible coupe. During this year Imperial owned 43 Model J. Duesenbergs, the world's largest collection of such autos.

Lee Minera

During this year Imperial sent a vehicle to the Australian Concours d'Elegance, which attracted more than 8,000 collector car buffs to the Royal Pines Resort on the country's Gold Coast. The chosen entry was the 1931 Minerva formal town car which was custom-fitted for the late Gypsy Rose Lee. The car had a wheel base of nearly 13 feet and a chassis built in Belgium that weighed two tons. This car was one of the eight known remaining vehicles of the 50 that were originally built.

In 1996, Imperial showcased Legends in Concert. Shangri-la Pool Deck showcased Hawaiian Ho Luau.

Backstage Live

The Duesenberg Lounge hosted the radio show Backstage Live with Gary & Connie. This two hour radio show took place every Saturday at 6:00pm. Pictured is Gary, Connie, and Jack Dey listening to the comic comments from comedian Sammy Shore.

In August 1997, the clinic was purchased by a new company and the name was changed to Nevada Resort Medical Services.

In 1997 Imperial added a 1929 Duesenberg Clear Vision Seda to its auto collection. This vehicle, which debuted at the New York Automobile Salon on December 1, 1928, had been through a frame-off restoration. The 6-litre, 8 cylinder engine made by Lycoming, developed 266 horsepower at 4250rpms. This was more than double the output of any rival of that era. Weighing more than 4,980 pounds, this Duesenberg was capable of reaching 116mph in top gear and 89mph in second gear. The body was designed by Murphy with the chasis-only price beginning at $8,500.

Also during this year Imperial decided to celebrate the auto collection's 15th birthday by asking visitors how many high-heeled shoes does it take to fill the Mercedes belonging to Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Officials filled the vehicle with women's shoes of all shapes and sizes as a spoof of Mrs. Marcos' infamous footwear collection. The winner of the contest won a trip for two to the new Imperial Palace in Biloxi, MS.

Although the 1988 Mercedes-Benz 5000 SEL looked like a normal example of this model car, it was fitted with security systems once seen as vital to safely transporting the Marcoses through the streets. Some of the items included bullet-proof windows and doors, alarm sirens, a window fogging system to restrict views into the car, an oil-spraying system under the rear bumper and systems at each of the vehicle' four corners to emit a fog screen.


In April or May of 1997, the auto collection added a 1902 Lenawee to its stable but was being displayed at a Vegas shopping mall. The auto was built the same year that the first JC Penney store opened and someone obviously thought that displaying the car would be a great means of commemorating the vent.

Built by the Church Manufacturing Company of Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan, in 1902, the car was originally priced at $1,000. Designed by Andrew Bachle, a gasoline engine builder from Detroit, the single-cylinder touring car had a single headlight and can accommodate up to five passengers. The Lenawee owned by the Imperial Palace is the only remaining one of the 15 that were built.

Also during this year, Imperial's Race & Sportsbook sponsored live broadcasts of the Utah Jazz games on KRLV AM 1340 in Vegas and also hosted the jazz post-game show. The on-the-air host for "On the Boards in the NBA" is Marty Rodick, a broadcasting veteran who has covered the NFL, NBA and major league baseball since 1978.


In mid-1997, the auto collection added a 1957 Volkwagen Beetle. The cost of this car was originally $1,495. The Beetle, which had a 94.5 inch weelbase and a weight of more than 1,600 pounds, was powered by a four-cylinder air-cooled, 36-horsepower engine. It claimed a top mileage of 32 miles per gallon.

In 1998, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends In Concert. Shangri-la Pool showcased Hawaiian Hot Luau. Nomiya Lounge showcased Whitney Phoenis. Duesenberg Lounge showcased Backstage Live with Gary Campbell and Connie Ross.

As of 1999, the Imperial is the largest privately owned hotel-casino as well as the 16th largest hotel in the world.

Imperial Palace

The awards the Imperial has earned is a history in itself.

In 1999, Imperial Palace encompasses 2,395,528 square feet with 2,700 rooms, including 225 suites. The casino is over 75,000 square feet.

On December 9, 1997, Imperial became the scene of a murder when 31 year old Greg Takung Chao, 31, allegedly killed 53 year old Donald Idiens of Gold River, B.C. Idiens' partially clad body was discovered on a 17th-floor landing on a fire escape stairwell at the resort. Idiens had been staying with friends while visiting Las Vegas. The investigation advanced when an alert employee of the resort noticed abnormalities in Chao's room, which was in the vicinity where Idiens' body was later discovered. Investigators believe that Idiens was killed in Chao's room and the the motive appeared to be robbery and/or debt-related.

Idiens had been playing poker with friends at The Mirage when he mysteriously disappeared, leaving his money and chips on the poker table. Surveillance videotape showed him leaving The Mirage alone. He got up casually like he was going to go to the bathroom or take a break. Apparently, he didn't say goodbye or anything and he never came back.

Also in 1997, six cocktail waitresses filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court stating they were discriminated against by the Imperial Palace when pregnancy pushed their figures beyond the seams of her form-fitted costume. The women alleged in their class-action lawsuit that the resort violated federal employment laws when it moved them from their lucrative positions on the casino floor because they were pregnant. The women were forced to take lower-paying jobs with fewer hours when they could no longer fit into their skimpy uniforms, according to the lawsuit.

During this year, Inga Jaklin, Vice President of the Southern California Motion Picture Awards Council presented awards to Connie Ross, Gary Campbell & Sibell Houck of the Backstage radio and TV show. Sibell Houck also worked as on the princesses at Caesars Palace.

In the early part of 1998, Engelstad donated the military documents of Gen. George S. Patton, which were valued at more than $1.4 million, to the UND's school's library. Engelstad also added $2 million to the endowment they started in 1988.

In December of 1998, Engelstad gave his alma mater an expensive Christmas present: $100 million. At a press conference held in the upper level of Ralph Engelstad Arena, the home of the UND Fighting Sioux hockey team, Engelstad announced he was committing $40 to $50 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art hockey arena that would seat about 12,000 people. The remainder of the total gift of $100 million went to the university for other university needs. The gift was tied for ninth on a nationwide list of major private gifts and grants to higher education institutions since 1967, according to a list compiled in an August, 1998 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"Just as in life, in business there are ups and downs. Fortunately, I've been able to land with more ups than downs. I attribute much of my good fortune to the UND hockey team." - Ralph Engelstad

In June of July of 1998, Imperial became the first hotel in Vegas to promote a new water conservation program by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, telling tourists about water usage in S. Nevada through tent cards on tables in the resort's 10 specialty restaurants. The cards informed guests of the need to conserve water in the LV Valley and they would not receive a glass of water unless they requested one.

Freeman/Deputy Drop

Pictured below is Imperial's Director of Food Services, Scott Freeman, with LV Water Authority ascot, Deputy Drop.

In 1998, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends In Concert. the Shangi-La Pool showcased Hawaiian Hot Luau. Nomiya Lounge showcased Whitney Phoenix. Duesenberg Lounge showcased Backstage Live with Gary Campbell and Connie Ross.

In 1999, Imperal Theatre showcased Legends in Concert, and Luau & Polynesian Revue. Nomiya Lounge showcased live entertainment. Duesenberg Lounge showcased Backstage Live with Gary Campbell and Connie Ross.

Legends in Concert brought in the New Year. Tickets were $49.95 per person which included tax, tip, two drinks, and party favors.

On February 20, 2000, I went to the Imperial Palace's Classic Car Exhibit and took pictures. All the cars as well as everything else in this structure are for sale. Now mind you, the cars are periodically rotated so you may not see the same ones I did, but I'm sharing a few of what I did see with you.

Liberace's car
Elvis Presley
Presley's car
Jacqueline Onasis
Kennedy-Onasis' car

Sammy Davis, Jr.'s car, a part of the showroom, a 60's VW Bug Van, and a motorcyle

On May 13, 2000, Imperial hosted her annual The Imperial Palace Golf Classic at the Painted Desert Golf Club. The prize was $7000 based on 100 players. The cost of $249.00 per person (two golfers in a room) included 18 holes of golf at the Painted Desert Golf Club, transportation provided to and from the course, 3 days/2 nights stay, Reception/pairings party Friday evening, awards party Saturday evening, complimentary two buffets, complimentary Antique Auto Collection passes, and tee prizes & hole prizes. Rules included two-man scramble---team of two paired with two other persons, Current handicap required (USGA) and was verified, 35% of total team handicap for net.

Over the years Engelstad has made his presence known in Vegas as well as the Strip. He built and sold the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Engelstad also initiated a partnership between the Imperial Palace and the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, Nevada, to restore cars at the prison. About 50 inmates are trained and paid to work on restoration of classic vintage automobiles for display at the Imperial Palace. This is the most sought-after job in the prison. It not only offers prisoners a profession upon release, but some are hired by Imperial Palace or helped to find other employment.

The trial of the pregnant waitresses was held in July, 2000, drawing national attention as a case pitting the rights of pregnant women against the gambling industry's stand that sex appeal sells. Four of the waitresses represented by the EEOC received a total of $105,000. The settlements ranged from $17,500 to $30,000. Attorneys for the Imperial Palace argued at trial the women signed agreements before being hired that regulated their appearance, including a provision that they would not gain more than six pounds. The resort's policy regarding pregnant cocktail waitresses was changed in 1997, three months after the first complaint was filed. Cocktail waitresses are now allowed to wear a modified uniform and keep their serving jobs if they become pregnant.

For New Years Eve Imperial Palace showcased "Swinging Into the Millennium for hotel guests with a room key for $249 per person. The party ran from 4:00pm to 3:00am in the Royal Halls ballroom. The evening included a cocktail reception, live music, dinner, wine and champagne, a commemorative champagne glass, a photo, souvenirs, party favors, dancing and a special production show. Rooms were $399 per night double occupancy with a three night minimum. Legends in Concert played at 10:30pm, for $49.95 which included drinks and party favors.

In September of 2001, Imperial announced the opening of its Medical Care Clinic which is part of the University of Nevada's School of Medicine. The full service clinic offers primary care, women's health care, workmen's compensation-related medical services as well as urgent care services. The clinic's Medical Director Dr. George Kaiser said the facility offers medical care that is more convenient than ever to many people along the Strip corridor.

"The Imperial Palace has always made an effort to provide the best possible care for our guests and employees. We are proud to be working with the School of Medicine in providing an other important service, not only for our guests but for all visitors to Las Vegas." - Ed Crispell, Imperial General Manager

In 2001, three couples, who were numbers 2,999,999, 3,000,000, and 3,000,001, to be married, were caught by surprise in a special event at the resort celebrating the special marked weddings. The first wedding in Las Vegas was in 1909.


Three couples, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman with an Elton John impersonator and one of the couples, various other impersonators with the brides, and Elvis impersonator Graham Patrick who sang Viva Las Vegas for the couples.

In 2001, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert. The Duesenberg Lounge showcased Backstage Live with Gary Campbell and Connie Ross.

The Kabuki Lounge showcased Ray Anthony/Danny Gale (6/3-9), Ray Anthony/May/Murray (6/24-30), John Gardner/May/Murray (7/15-28), John Gardner/Chuy's Co. (9/2-15), Ross Lewis (7/1), Ros Lewis/She Bop (7/2-14), Naked City/Danny Gale (6/10-16), Naked City/May/Murray (6/17-23), Solomon Duo, & May & Murray (8/12-19).

Shangri-La Pool showcased Hawaiian Hot Luau.

Ms. Senior America

In early 2002, Imperial hosted the Ms. Senior America contest where women 60 and older can compete. Dorcas Preston of Coronoa Del Mar, CA, won the title over 40 other contestants. Steve Rossi is left and Advertising/PR Director Connie Ross is on the right.


On Novemer 26, 2002, Imperial Palace founder Engelstad, 72, died of lung cancer at his home in Vegas.

His death throws into question the long-term future of the 2,700-room Imperial Palace. Also unclear is what will happen to his approximately 1,100-room Imperial Palace in Biloxi, Miss.

In a letter issued to the management, employees and friends of the Vegas Imperial Palace, Betty Engelstad said her husband passed away in his sleep at home Tuesday night after a "long and valiant battle with cancer." "Ralph continued to conduct his business affairs up to the very end; but finally his body could no longer support his brilliant mind," she said in the letter.

It was reported that before his passing, Ralph took all necessary steps to ensure the continuity of his business including the Imperial Palace hotel-casino. Bill Thompson, Betty Engelstad, with the advice and assistance of Ralph's longtime attorney Owen Nitz, and accountant Jeff Cooper, will oversee the hotel-casinos' continuing operations under the able management of Ed Crispell and all the many other very loyal department heads and employees of the hotel and casino.

"Ralph always thought of all of you as his extended family and on behalf of Ralph and myself, let me extend many thanks for your past loyalty and industry. We will all miss him terribly but in his memory, we will continue to make the Imperial Palace a source of great pride, success and respect." - Betty Engelstad

Many of the employees seemed downcast but operations went on as usual. There are 2,700 employees at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas and 1,100 to 1,200 employees at the Biloxi Imperial Palace.

In 2002, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert. The Kabuki Lounge showcased live entertainment.

Grand Salon of the Auto Collections showcased Backstage Live w/Gary Campbell & Connie Ross Saturdays (this was discontinued in April, 2002). Kabuki Lounge & Nomiya Lounge showcased pianist Jeff Cox Friday-Sunday.

In 2003, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert. Noyima Lounge showcased Jeff Cox (dark Mondays through Thursdays).

In 2004, Imperial Theatre showcased Legends in Concert (dark Sundays).

The Noyima Lounge showcased Patrick Karst (Fridays-Sundays)

Shangri-La Pool showcased Imperial Hawaiian Luau (Thursdays & Thursdays thru September).

On August 22, 2005, it was announced that Harrah's Harrah's Entertainment Inc., signed an agreement to buy the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino for $370 million from the Ralph Engelstad/Betty Engelstad Trust. It was noted that Imperial Palace occupies an 18.5-acre site, with a 52,000 square foot casino and 2,600-plus rooms. Harrah's expects the transaction to close by year-end.

In 2005, Imperial Theater will be showcasing Mondays-Saturdays - Legends in Concert.

Shangri-La Pool will be showcasing Imperial Hawaiian Luau (4/19).

In September, 2006 I went to the Classic Auto Show at the Imperial Palace. There were not as many cars there as in the past and approximately 95% of them were for sale. I have pictures of some of those cars list on my travel diary located under September 24-28, 2006.

Other Names On Property/Descriptions

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