The Sands Hotel Photograph Collection depicts entertainers, celebrities, events, amenities, and staff at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada from approximately 1952 to 1980. The photographs primarily depict entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the Copa Girls performing in the Copa Room, the showroom of the Sands Hotel. The photographs also depict patrons gambling, events held in the Sands Hotel's ballrooms, banquets, the pool, rooms in the hotel, as well as Jack Entratter, the hotel'’s director of entertainment.
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Scope and Contents Note
The Sands Hotel Photograph Collection depicts entertainers, celebrities, events, amenities, and staff at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada from approximately 1952 to 1980. The photographs primarily depict entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the Copa Girls performing in the Copa Room, the showroom of the Sands Hotel. Included are prints of the Rat Pack taken by film director George Sidney. The photographs also depict patrons gambling, events held in the Sands Hotel's ballrooms, banquets, pool, rooms in the hotel, as well as Jack Entratter, the hotel's director of entertainment.
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
Materials are arranged into five series:
Series I. Entertainer photographs, 1952-1970;
Series II. Copa Girls photographs, 1952-1970;
Series III. Event photographs, 1952-1980;
Series IV. Sands Hotel and Casino amenities photographs, 1952-1969;
Series V. Sands Hotel and Casino staff and buildings photographs, 1952-1969.
Biographical / Historical Note
The Sands Hotel opened in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 1952. A controversial group of investors fronted by Texas gambler and oilman Jake Freedman and New York nightclub boss Jack Entratter built what was considered at the time one of the world's most lavish hotels and a showcase Las Vegas resort. Freedman purchased the land itself for $15,000 and spent $600,000 on the construction. The Sands was designed by Googie California architect Wayne McAllister.
The combination of Entratter's connections in the entertainment world (from his days at the Copacabana Club in New York) with the hotel's lavish spending on entertainment assured the Sands a preeminent place in show business for top-name entertainers and shows. In the Sands' famous Copa Room, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. performed in the 1950s and 1960s surrounded by legions of glamorous Copa Girls in beautiful costumes.
After the death of Jake Freedman in 1958, Entratter and Carl Cohen, the casino boss, took over the hotel as President and Vice-President. The original hotel was a series of low-rise structures. In 1963 construction of the 15-story circular tower began, part of an overall expansion and renovation as a major convention facility. Howard Hughes acquired the hotel in 1967 from Entratter and Cohen for $23 million and planned a "new Sands," a huge 400 room resort, which he never built. Dallas-based Inns of the Americas, Inc. purchased the Sands from Hughes' Summa Corporation in 1981 and re-opened the "new Sands" in January 1982, with a totally renovated 30,000 square foot casino, twice the size of the original. Kirk Kerkorian's MGM Grand, Inc. owned the hotel briefly in 1988, but quickly sold it to Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Interface Group, for $110 million. Adelson, a producer of trade shows, built a 575,000-square foot convention facility, the Sands Expo and Convention Center which opened in 1990. Further expansion, including a new high-rise tower, was planned but never realized.
The hotel was officially closed on June 30, 1996. Later that year, scenes from the Nicolas Cage film "Con Air" were filmed at the property, with a plane crashing into the casino of the famed Sands Tower. On November 26, 1996, the legendary hotel was imploded and Adelson announced plans to build a Venetianthemed hotel/casino on the site.
Burbank, Jeff. "Sands Hotel," Online Nevada Encyclopedia. January 18, 2019. http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/sands-hotel
Sands Hotel Photograph Collection, approximately 1952-1980. PH-00287. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/f1n903
Materials were donated in 2000 by the Public Relations Department of the Sands Hotel; accession number 2000-12.
Materials were processed by Special Collections staff. In 2015, as part of a legacy finding aid conversion project, Lindsay Oden wrote the collection description in compliance with current professional standards. In 2021, Sarah Jones added box 33 into the collection inventory.