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"An Impact of the Moulin Rouge Hotel on Race Relations in Las Vegas": paper by Roosevelt Fitzgerald




1989-04-06 to 1989-04-08


From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Unpublished manuscripts file. Presented to the National Social Science Association, Reno, Nevada.

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man000938. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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On the interior walls of the Moulin Rouge Hotel of Las Vegas may be found murals reminiscent of the chorus line of the famed Moulin Rouge of Paris. It would seem only fitting that they be there. The fact that Will Max Schwartz had the idea for constructing Las Vegas' Moulin Rouge Hotel in 1953 probably had as much to do with the Paris original as it did with the fact that the film, by that same name, was a Hollywood release in 1952. The film described the Moulin Rouge as being the more popular of many seamy nightclubs of Paris and its trade-mark was the "Can-Can" with its dancing girls and comedians who told bawdy jokes. Additionally, it was a place frequented by prostitutes, pimps and other low-life types and, further, that it was a place where gentlemen went whenever they felt like slumming (Houston: 1952).
The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Las Vegas, on May 15, 1905, was celebrated nine days before the grand opening of the Moulin Rouge Hotel on May 24, 1955. Had Las Vegas been a southern town, that grand opening of the Moulin Rouge and not the bus boycott initiated in Montgomery, Alabama seven months later in December, might well be considered the beginning of the civil rights movement. As it stood, it was only one of several attempts to affect discriminatory'practices in public accommodations in Las Vegas. The attempt was not to end the practice of discrimination but to provide a place where people of color, who wished to visit Las Vegas, would have access and opportunity for food and lodgings upon their arrival at a site other than private homes, and that they would further have the opportunity to gamble and attend shows.
FoJthe^fi rst twenty-five years of Its history,
the opening of the Moulin Rouge Hotel did not exist.
Irom th^eM block, of the new town was set aside for whatever
saloons, barStaverns and houses ^ill-rep^ there might beH Block SixteeAbounded by Main and Fwst Street on tJie west and east and, to the northrand southEtewarl and was Wie center of
Las VegPs1 ( Paher, 1971, P- 78a. Awone who wished
to purchase a driMor clo any gambling |id so there. The onljbusinesses ^Sch di Simulated on Blo<^^Been^erl thelevTJl houses of dll - lepute^ UntiL the opening of the ^^e Houlciub in 1936, black menj|ho>.
iMuch passtimegwere required tojfind someone who freelanced. Ilhilefheleason for Khat discrimination might well ha^ been Mesul?oCt!ie personal attitudSTIf the prop^eto^ [3Those houses in light" dist®ct,^hey were spared responsibBity due to anti- mi theWtate ^^evada ^Hcegenatdon Act, 1361^j
Those laws were not repealed until 1959 KStatutelof the State of Nevada, 1959,Mhap. W3Msec^Dl, p.®6);.
The growth of Las Vegasl blackjpopulation wa«quite slov! Each ►census reoo^^roV 19^through 1940 ZroMdes MidenceD^that effect an®
by 1940 it had reached only a total of 178. It was durMg the decade leadinltip to^940,that thlfiB meaningful social/ragalPc^anges occurred.
Even “though as^earljas 1909 anMontinuing, intermittinglyJ though 1911,there had beerltalk of segregating Las Vegas' "colored population nShinglame of it®With the arrival the Hoover DaWroject howeveiM
some fiiges did occur. Outright discrimination j;ook place I the new ^tavernsland saloons, which sprang Ip along the neSsoulderjHighway which Connected Lasl/egas with* he daRite. WhiOcal ordinancelprohibited!
the operation pk saloons beyond the limited area of Block
lateen, those ordinances did not egend ®to ghe county. As there had be*rlno anticipation of a Mil ding boom beygid the coffine^ ofn_as Vegas fl 19051 no thought halbeen given to legislation beyond As ^Iftrst^fs jf the dam^roject got
underway lithe new highway was pock-marked with Eady establishments and workforce whiMwas all-whiteawith the exception of a handfll of Mexican’ftmScans, untijthe mid"point of E 932, and. those white workers, K large had migr^ed to Las Vegas frE^e sflth tMcHdeJ988a,H. 3). No alcohol wayl lowed within the boundariel o7^Hfeder5 projeJ. On^^RH 19311 the Railroad Past Saloon opened t3bounda^|ine pf the had
everything thag a dam worker alccBol, gambling and fanale
^companionship. Wailroad Pass SaloorB the^^3 bec&n. al 1 -white
it catered all-white work Oce In
Las Vegas, the Apache Hotel, thre^tociel t^l with 100 rooms and with the also opened by thafcimgKneppM
W987 11 als^Eitered to an all-whito clie^ele did those other
» plaSs on the BoilcS Highway. &he overall population of southern Nevada Ead increased to mS than 40,000 by that time. Based on the place of nativity of thoseBii grants ?ncf theRonomiShSships of the times, the Mfcumstances wer3p?fo^ncreasing racial Intolerance. Local new! ^Eper^^^the daj are replete with report^of confmts and acil of hostility between not only bl ack And white who were there buf also blacH and MexfEn Americans,and Mexican Americans and whites {Deteriorating Racial1 Relation, 1930). Thoma, Sowell d^ibesgsuch a condition well: ■^La certain beflgn contempt may exist toward a group that is ■ clearly on the bottom and showing no sign of rising.
rthey reach the stage of becoming threats to others' jobs or status a much mors active and intense hatred may1 develop’! This MP sometimes referred ^to as'W'good race ■relation^!/ turning to hostility® Rising ethnic groups are the greatest threat to others at owneangthe bottom-including otherlminorities (SowellW 19751 p. 162).
Whila there had not been!historically, a tradition of racial discrimination^™ Las Vegas^fchort historM the floo" of newcomersJn brought theiri prejudices with them. Make no mistake about it, those act! of discrimination wereBiot jrestrFcted to those who were southernersW While the south theJnomerof de jure segregatio^H
the Remainder oj^the countr^had brand and R was called de factoW Neither'had existed Las Vegas because minority groups had comprised^ such a small percentage of the total. population not have beenMi ewed as threats. Eurtherj the^gconomi c^di re whi ch the Country
found htself as the M930s got underway! served to exacerbate what had beeMnaiaonwidel aMunhealthj^^rial climate even before the archival of the depression.
It was the Hooven Dam project whirr ushered [^significant social^# racialfchanges in southern Nevada.' DiHing the height of\dam construct! onW the populatioi^multipl ied twenty-times overlfrom what dt had been jin 1930. TheKanges that it brought about wouldgl inge^long afteijthe project would be completed# Earl ier estimates^of the dilation of time necessarZM for the compl et ion ^TTheJprojecL were almost halved. This wa ^partial ly a of th"work being doneWi twentWour hourKhift^ As the project
neared completion short flatter the mid-way mark of the 1930sJmany of Fthe workers and their families departed toHeel employment on other projects on down ^heColorado Ri off tojthe northwest. Still,
1940 populationShowed nearly8000 which was nearly triple the 1930
. fiW, Howeveil even thoughJtha blaclcpopulation had also increased by
the same ratio^l in real numbers that translatedfto a total black population of 78 or twenty more than it had Further, the all-white
town of Boulderfity had come into existance with a residual populatio^ ofl ove3 3Oo3.
■The dam was hailed as one of the^'wonders onhe world" and touijs^U^ f^macross the United KtatesMamsAo Bisit. Begii^RjIn the mid-MOM and co^^Sing on till itoday; the Hoovel Dam has been a favorite tEistW attraction for traveler. Those faujjst sjlioweve], tlid not find ample hote? accommodations in LaW VegaDandtherejwere almost noprovi si onsjf or them In BouldScity^ Many of the older established hotels were small and even aftemmdergoing expansi on, [they were not able to acconuiodate the flood Th? obvious need fovwadditional hotels and rooms■
were ear and by the beginning oi|the 1940s, there begSp|JsurgeTl^ ne wlco n s tru ct i o
Beginning with the construction o^rche El Rancho H^^l in 1941, th^g decade witn Bed the appearancjo? nine majWestablishmeius (Knepp, 275). That samj^yea^^B was^joined by the El Cortez ai^gthe following^^ar EBoE^e Pioneer Club and Each of thoZe
establishments," by their lavishne^ffgambli^and entertainment spffired | on^evenpre travelers who remained for even longerf peHodgof (time*.
While, on the one hand, they served a pSposeJon the other
han<T, they contributed to the increasing discrimination and segregation inwThe LaSvegasJbomnunity. ThsSwhich hacflstarted in the earOy 1930s Bad grown to suchterrible proportions^ even before theijuarrival, b^
1938/39,^^at^^ prompted the introduction of a Race and Color Bill in 1939 in |ie Nevada Legislature to inhibit the furpier expansion of dilcrinnnatitn^Race and Color Bill! 19391. The Bill died in the Assembly
and the hotel owner®were 1 r honorlto abidePbyconstitutional
protections afforded all ^citizensM
On at least one occasion the 1940sl an attempt wasmade Lo
open what would have been an integ®ted hotel least a hotel where iblack people could ®id accommodations. In 1942, the Horace Heidtj rOrganizatioS made an attempt to open the Shamrockflotel but waUunable tolsecwre tKe proper Henfflg^Ks Result, even though.^the black popflation o| Las Vegas continued to increasR there was no corresponding increase In Therfact that MegMgation ^jsted Bus^W
Las VegMto evolve Into a segregated town and that Leg negation became part of its trademark and gained national renown during the was yeaH soldiers stationed an nearby military installations fo^Mthat fJBLniaht or weekend passes were only good un the westsid^ Many Email 11 acly businesses devel oped J nMa^omnDi ty but, fol thMMeW Eiere were Until "*a bl a® USO 'club openelm 1942MoldierW
who came t^Bas Vegan were on their own al fal as securing food and .sheltelwere concerned. T ?oodtnumbe*of those businesses were amall , bars anlsaloons althougMthere wer^Murnerou^other traditional family operated Mops. It wa| in thlformer, however^ that some bodicrurn of entertainment was provided the black populanioi^but permanent and transient* That entertainment, was frequently provided by black enter- tainels who were current^Sappearing at the larger hotels and ^/ho, them- seivJ, found shelter oj the westside. Obviousl^ that entertainment took place in those pl the entertainers would have completed their
performance^ at the s! the bars Un the westside^ as a result| beca® popular "after-hours1®ubs. Because they did not generally book entertainment there wasialso suspense bs to wholwould show up where and
whether or not they would do •anyth! ng other than gamble and have a few drinks (Delaney, 1974)U It was not rare that more than one black enter-W tainer would appear at the same place ^Khe same night and there would be great excitemenl. The "jams11 d do attracted business and
frequently their drinks wereKomplementarH and, depending tyW
they might also be^paWU small sum. The payment, howevejwas not aij "incent^M Many were cMxiouS to perform in places where they felt welcomed, and befB appreciative ludiences who otherwise would not havej opportunity to nave such entertaipnent (IbidB As the notorietMof Mose Bessons' became mEe well^nown, more i^fflte community, began to yisvt Ihe "after-hours" clubs On the west®de iEh to the dismay of other® establ curb that activity’’waj initiated based on
i Nevada'-s^anti-miscegenation lawl Even though there was no clear evidence
there are coMrdU of cert aw clubs
< being /Hosed oojihaving licenses suspended because they played M a ^®^3ientele. The realircause of such closures! howeverl was thadravM
ing-off o| trade that the h®ls felt^ias jHghtJthei^s1.
Tensions between the two segments of the LasyVegasjommfflty continued » to grow through tS194ol Jhjirony Jail tof this Js that in thM remainder of the So^^H there were some limited evidences^of though^W
^pf attempting to bring the Country closer togetheH Following the end of World War II and thelretuni oWthe^soldiers to the United Statesjtherejj fclwer^ loi^ voices^ emanating initially out of black communities throughout
the land to segregation and discrimination. The clamor
b^thB personajentimentlof President Harry Truman, Resulted wit? his signing Executive Ordeil99M in 1948 ch desegregrated the armed forces^ ThS Arne yearf the Supreme Courtlrendered two landmark
decisions. In Sipuel vs University of Oklahoma, it re-affirmed the 1938 Gaines vs Canada decision which declared that each of the several states were obliged to provide for each citizen's equal educational opportunity. With Shelley vs Kraemer, it rendered that racially restricted covenants violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The impact of the arrival of Jackie Robinson to major league baseball the year before was carried from spring training in Montreal, Canada and Havana, Cuba to each of the National League towns where the Brooklyn Dodgers played that year (Trommer, 1982, 108-150). While Robinson was initially greeted with rejection by some of the other members of the ball club and jeers in some of the towns where they played, owing to his own strength, the support of Branch Rickey and other team members and the general good will of the majority of spectators in the stands, he survived the ordeal and caused Americans previously convinced of their own decency to recognize their true selves.
Finally, the Supreme Court in two 1950 decisions, acted on a matter which had its beginning in the 1940s. I-n 1945, Hernan Sweatt attempted to enroll at the University of Texas Law School at Austin. He was denied entry. He filed a petition with the District Court asking for his legal rights. The state responded by opening a seperate school in a basement near the capitol grounds. Sweatt did not attend. The state then built a three-and-a-half million dollar campus at Houston and called it the Texas State University for Negroes. Sweatt did not attend because he was convinced that the new institution would not provide him with an equal educational opportunity on the level of that which he would receive at the University of Texas. It was out of those circumstances that the two Supreme Court decisions of 1950 were rendered and they each had to do
with the state's responsibility to provide an equal educational opportunity.
In the McLaurin ys Oklahoma State Regents and Sweatt vs Painter cases, the Court struck down state laws for the higher or professional education of blacks as failing to meet the requirements of equality.
Even as those events took shape nationwide, Las Vegas continued its growth. In 1946, three major establishments opened their doors. The Golden Nugget was followed by the Eldorado and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel's Fabulous Flamingo Hotel's grand opening in December, closed out the year. It was at the Flamingo that the final nail of discrimination was driven. During the third week of its operation, Lena Horne opened at its showroom. While she was allowed to perform on stage and was provided a private bungalow, she was not permitted into any of the public areas (Horne and Schickel, 1965, pp. 202-205). Before the decade ended, two more casinoes opened. The Club Bingo, which would later became the Sahara Hotel, opened in 1947 and the Thunderbird joined it in 1948 (Knepp, 275). With each opening, discrimination became even more widespread. There was resistence but it was sporadic and, during those years, failed to halt the spread of segregation in the new industry. In March of 1947, E.R. 'Boots Miller, a Nevada Assemblymanintroduced a bill designed to bar discrimination on account of race in public accommodations. As with its predecessors, it also failed (Assembly Journal, 1948: 273, 453-455, 506-511).
While nationally, the decade closed on notes of optimism in regards to race relations, conditions in Las Vegas seemed to actively pursue the opposite. By that time, it was common to hear black people and many others refer to Nevada as "The Mississippi of the West."
George Rudiak, a prominent Las Vegas attorney, first came to Las Vegas during the early 1940s while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp. Following his discharge in 1946, after having been stationed at the Las
Vegas Gunnery School, he started his legal career. During his first ten years in Las Vegas, he witnessed many times the acts of discrimination against black people. On several occasions those discriminatory actsM took place with black people who were either friends or clients while in his company. The first instance involved he, his partner Paul Rai 1i and a black singer Arthur Lee Simpkins. They were refused service at the El Rancho (Evans, 1988^3). On yet another occasion, Rudiak ".Rand another black client, a dentist from Los Angeles, ordered drinks at the Golden Nugget casino bar. They were refused. Rudiak says that time, he made a scene, refusing to leave until they were served! They eventually were—grudingly" (Ibid.).
Following a short stint as city attorney for North Las Vegas, Rudiak ^resigned in 1948 and shortly thereafter announced his plans for running for the state legislature. After a successful campaign he was elected and attended the 1953 session where he introduced a bill that would have been the state's first civil rights bill! It would have outlawed the sort of racial discrimination widely practiced in Las Vegas at the time. It failed by one vote" (Ibid.).
Many have described the 1950s as being the decade of major hotel construction in Las Vega J Actually, the 50s was the time that the "Strip" had its personality defined^ During that period, seven new establishments opened there. Beginning in 1950 with the Desert Inn and the Silver Slipper, the number of establishments on the "Strip" increased to seven. By the date of their opening, with the exception of black back-of-the-house employees and black entertainers, no blacks were allowed to enter any of those establishments. They continued to come to Las Vegas and to perform because Jin the majority of instances, Las Vegas paid the best wages in
their profession in the country (home and Schickel, 1965, p. 205). By the mid-1950s, however, some few was allowed to enter the public areas of the hotels and casinoes where they performed. They did not have carte blanch at the other hotels.
In 1952, the Sands, which became a favorite for black entertainers for the next quarter-century, opened. The Showboat, which was neither on the Strip nor downtown, opened on the Boulder Highway in 1954 (Knepp, 275). The following year the Riviera and the Dunes brought the number of Strip establishments to eleven and within the next two years they were joined by the Hacienda in 1956 and the Tropicana in 1957 (Ibid.). Downtown, the Fremont Hotel opened the same year as the Hacienda.
By the time those places opened, the bigger names in black entertainment not only were provided accommodations but also, as stated earlier, found some restrictions lifted. Lesser names, such as Pearl Bailey, lived on the westside (Bailey, 1973, p. 75). During his first appearance in Las Vegas, Harry Belafonte also lived there at least for one night until he was able to secure quarters at a small motel after being passed off as a South American (Shaw, 1960, 184). Even those who were provided rooms and access to public areas within the hotels were little more than prisoners as they encountered discrimination in other public places (Best and Hi 1 Iyer, 1955, 35-36). As these small changes occurred, black tourism remained almost non-existart.
Today, the 1950s have been popularized by many movies and television shows. There are many businesses with 1950s themes, radio stations that play the music of those times, restaurants with menus reminiscent of that period, car buffs who collect the cars and even some of the clothing styles reach back to that era. In the minds of many, that decade ended
a period in the history of the country they like toPefer to asT'the good 'ol days. ' They were not 'ghe good lol day^ for everyone.
Southern Nevada and the remainder of the natio^ experienced many major changes! At about the time that above-ground atomic'excplsions tookj place at the Nevada Test Site, the United States Supreme Court handed down the majorldomestic decision of the century. In May of 1954Hit Yuled, in the Brown*vs Board of Education case, that "separate but equal waslnherentl?unconstitutional. That decision attracted more attention ^han did thought of the harmful effects of radiation^in the Nevada desert. FEven as the nation tookj] firs? steps toward desegration, Las Vegas tookj its first steps toward re-integration. Those stepsj however, were in the direction of "separate but equal." Sandwiched between atomic explosions and that Supreme Court decision, Will Max Schwartlmade applicatioitfomJ license to open I hotel far—removed from downtown and the Strip.
Anyone with treasonable amount of business acumen would have been able to determine that there was money to be made in the hotel/casino industry in Las Vegas' black, community and the possible black
{trade. While it might have served racist purposes to imagine tharblacl® people were more uncouth than their white counterparts and therefore did novdeserve the privilege of entering Las Vegas' temples of Babylon, for those to whom business was simply a matter of profit margin, they recognized the almost untapped wealth of the westside which, as things were and had beer^ince the communitlhad become segregated, had gone into the pockets of those black entrepreneur!who operated places which were little more than dives. There’seemed not to be a reason to provide more hospitable surroundings as the customers there had no choice in the matter of where they would go whenever the^ desired an evening on the townHLln
the 1 argerlommuni ty, where white patrons coulB pick-and-choose where they would go toHl^ink, gambleRbe entertained,^eatW and more« each establish^] m" Byed with the others A ^ize and ostentaciousness. The customer^ soughl txffl the more modern I the best coolest air-
conditionlngBthe best breakfast specials and buffets and
they could not get it^in one establishment.Lthey wentfto anotheiHf Throughout tS late 1940s and onKiroughlthe 1950sBas eacMsuccessiye hotel opened,| theS offered more than those that had come before. Business on the wesSde had not been required to do that because^thel lMd a captiv^ audience.
Shwartz saw anjopportunity to bring rthe Strip and downtown to the [resident of the westside! It was strictly ar busRies^ matter. The times Land the conditions created the illusion) that hisLmotives were Bore noble than they actuallB were I There were man! black people who believed that the proposedJioteT was designed to bring about■ntegrationHmhat was noW at all theca" fdeedHt was designed to provide for black
people to have the opportunity ^o Upend their monel in more luxurious
Bsurrounding 11 uLion, however, oersted«n spite of thMfact th^M
■there^as no law in Nevada which sanctionedo« legBrized segregatioiW The
fact tha^^? existed at all waRthe result^f spoken and unspoken threats econom^K'epri sal.
Th^ame yearlthat the Dunes andlthe hotels opened, the Moulin
Rouge did so also. |^While it hotel built for black people, it was ncRin the black communW/ as it existed at the time. Its location was
the a white neighborhood ana it met with some resistence from
the inhabitants’there® Nonetheless, the license was granted pd ground
broken and the enterprise was underway.
The theme of the Moul Stooge was drawn directly from that of the originaBjn ParF. By the mid-1950s, the formula for the successfulKtel operatili had been fairly well established. The iteas for the designs, the entertai nmenfrand the over-all operations were al ^borrowed I Many were based on the notels and spectaculars foundRn pre-Castro Cuba.
There was Something from the lesort areas of Europejespeci al ly*f rance and Hollywood popular!zedlthe entire concept pn itDmusicals. Jrom "Down prxjentina^5,11 "It HappenedBrazil," "ClubRawia," and others with Miranda J Don Ameche, GingerlRogerl and Fred
Hollywood pul its indelible mark on La^VegasM
*1 between the applicant and ffie Nevada Gaming Conmission on the
matter of the license was more than interesting. "The Commissi^ itself did not touch on racial Rgles during the hearing but Moulin Rouge attorney Thomas Fol ejdeclared that the 8,000 colored resi den Joj Las J/egas need pi decent place to gomMoiHin Rouge, 1955, p. 11 On May 1955, the
Gaming Commission granted a license tolperate to the Moulin Rouge^. 1
The opening o^the Moulin Rouge Hotel Ei 1955 was an important event.
Bhere^w^m anjiety as to whether ojnot it would That.anxiety was-
based fnjM on the illusion of what the hotel represented as opposed to what iMjas actually intended to Commission had been told by
FoleytLha?kthe hotel would be fun decently and would be a credi■•to Las m/egas an*the State,oJNevada" (Ibidjj.
jnhe nig^the Moulin Rouge opened, there were man^celebrities appearing throughout! Vegas^iberace and IheZreniers were at the Riviera, New Carmen Miranda and the Mary Sands
■ headlined the Delta Rhythm Boys and .Freddie Bell, Louie Prima and Keeley we?e atFhe Sahara Xng witlBilll Ward and the Dominoes and the Ink
Spots ancCJoe E. Leonard were also appearing there! All across town there were black entertainers and the practice of not providing accommodations for them continued, except in*rare cases. The opening of the Moulin Rouge provided themjafflace to stay othS than hr private homes on the
Two anl a half weeks before openings Mrs. Rudy B.
KTiforni^ Mother of lhe Year and author of^ a book titled Its_ Gooowo B£ Black, haff been a guest speaker at a/local ^ack bodge^Her topBT had "AKhallenging NewSrontie!" Shelspoke of the gains blackshad
made In just ninety slavei^Kn spite ofl^e obsta<He^they had
overcomeKMtalk was weD^ceived.Wss thaTWee weeks later
Soperlng niM atShe Moulin RougS the imfgcT of her^comments could be leen in the composition Mthe patrons. Everybody was not
Many black peopl e. around the country? who nad the In^ i nation and ^the wherewMhthandl'd lot have the disposition foj^ttending the grand openings Most refused titravel, even froi] southern Cal iforni^merely l'participate in what theHviewed as a jjim cro<,operation. They felt that
they were forfche likes of^he
k RanchofFlamwgollUgget and otherSthey"would not degrade themselves by actively participating in the venture of the Moulin Rouge.
Local blacks^ had no such attitude nor did a surprisingly large number of local* whitest There were Reporters there from al^The major news Ervicel anftgazine^ Joe L®s, the official host, greeted everyone. , Clarence Robinsonl who producedtehe stage spectacelaWhad what was described not only aslthe "^argesS chorus^He" in^^M Vegas, but also as haviftg "twenty-five *f tne most beautiful dancers irrthe land", comprising the Tropi
Kan-Can Revue with Ann Weldon being the featured vocal
In addition to the chorus line, there was much more entertainment. The Wild BilliDavisisingers, Ahmad Jamal Trio and Stump and Stumpy. One reporteadescribed the occasion by saying; "Moulin Rouge is New Gem in Vegas Treasure Chest*® (Tropi Canj-Canjl955). Another writer reported That "the newest! hotel bs truly beautiful and a surprise for all Rhe doubting ThomaseO The local folks are turning oulW7droves.
Moulin Rouge, you make Las Vegaalook good" ^Newest Hotel,’ 1955). Yet, another had thijto say; BThe keynote of the Moulin Rougel of course, is that s interraci people ol The owners are deserv-J
ing of orchids for Rhe magnificent job they accomplished in introducing a> new and pleasant atmosphere to7the resort worl d'M Interraci al Hotel, 1955).j Stiffl another saidHjoe Louisa (it was not his hotel) Moulin Rouge last night became the newest discovery in the billion doll an bonanza known as Las Vegas, Nevada" (Billion Dollar Bonanza, 1955).
Even thougl^being an Interracial establishment had not been the original intent of the owners,j^it was that way from theB/ery first night. Because it was also the home Lome for the majorityjjfblack
entertainers appearing elsewhere in Las Vegas, it did not Buffer for a
Even those black entertainers who were provided accommodation! at the other hotelMwhere they performed bulDwho were denied access to others on the Strip find downtown, eventually arrived at the Moulin Rouge following their second Ehoww Along with them, they ; broughiBtheir admirers who had heard of the "jams" which had taken place Bn the smaller bars before The appearance of the Moulin Rouge. Among the great majority of entertainers,1,there was no problem associated with color difference^ White entertainers also began to go to the Rouge. This exodulrof entertainers along with their loyal following did have
financial consequences on other establishments. There were many who otherwise would have gone to the Strip or downtown to see shows who began to wait and go to the Rouge where they could see a variety of celebrities. Owing to the fact that the Rouge was not overly large, rubbing elbows with celebrities and being able to get autographs was easily done (Delaney, 1974).
Other hotels in Las Vegas began to relent jn their practices of restriction! In almost a domino manner, one after the other began to allow its black enters more freedom! Nat King Cole had the run of the house where he performed (Cole, 1971, pp. 105-6)1 Sammy Davis, Jr. was allowed that and more. He was permitted to bring his mother and his grandmother to see his shows (Davis! 1965, pj 80-81). Harry Belafonte, after having forced the issue, was allowed to gamble at the Sanda where he performed (Shaw, 196, p^185). Lesser name black entertainers were provided accommodations at the hotels where they performed (Delaney, 1974).
The opening of the Moulin Rouge set into motion the change in the racial practices of Las Vegas which would culminate in 1960 with the full integration of the hotel/casino industry of the town. There were some alleged efforts to discredit the management of the Moulin Rouge and, within seven months of its opening, it began to undergo major upheavals. By then, however!the civil rights movement was underway and the country would never be the same again. Beginning in Montgomery and then spreading first throughout the south and then into other regions, the social revolution which had been the slumbering sleeping giant since the days following the Civil War began to stir. While many associated with the hotel industry continued to oppose Integration, there were many citizens of Las Vegas, both black and white, who no longer viewed it as something which would destroy the community^ In spite of the charges brought against
the Moulin Rouge by other hotels and the Gaming Commission, the publicW had seen integration at work and they had enjoyed it. The fact that there was no law which forbade the opening of a hotel meant that such a hotel could exist. Over the next half dozen^ears, the management and the ownership of the Moulin Rouge changed several times. The hotel itself was no longer the question.H Even if it closed, another could be opened and so long asathat was a possibility, racial conditions could not return to what they had been before the opening of th^Rouge in May of 1955. The only question which remained wasD"how soon will segregations end throughout^ he industry?" tThe answer was I March 26, 1960.
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