Alice Key oral history interview,1997 February 17 and 1997 March 24. OH-01015. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. L
Standardized Rights Statement
Tell me about opening night. Place me in the Moulin Rouge on opening night. There were so many black newspaper people from New York, Chicago and everywhere, and they stayed at the hotel. The hotel was lavish. It equaled anything on the strip. This Pat, the maitre'd, was first class. He had never worked at anything but first-class places in Los Angeles and Hollywood and he trained these waiters harder than the show rehearsed, about service. And they had a gourmet chef. One of the owners was a gourmand and he loved food. They had a gourmet chef and they had the best food in town. But the whole thing was just electrifying. You know, just excitement. People from Hollywood came up. There's a picture in the Review Journal, with my mother. I think I gave you one. Yes, I have the picture. Joe Louis was the host and the show was sensational. Tell me about it. Stump and Stumpy [performed] and Bob was, you know, the song and dance man. And the girls were beautiful. There were two different shows and I can't remember all of them. Dinah Washington came later. She was not at the opening. The Platters were in the opening show. Stump and Stumpy's a great act — comedy and dance. And Stump. Jimmy Cross, was the one whose daughter just did that documentary on her white mother. That one's name is Jimmy Cross. They had a great act. How many people were in the Moulin Rouge on opening night? 36 Well, it was packed to capacity, whatever the capacity was. You know the casino was large. Where you go see the show, that was all casino. The showroom was in back of it. During that era, all showrooms were small. If you notice, the Copa Room in the Sands is small. The Crystal Room in the Desert Inn is small. Caesar's was the first one to open up a big showroom. That's when the showrooms started opening up big. So the showroom was small and would seat about 250, 300 people. The casino was two and half or three times as large. Did you wish, on that opening night, that you were back up on that line? Never. Never once after I quit did I ever wish I was back in show business. What was the motivating factor that made you quit? Time. You know, they're chorus girls not chorus women, [laughter] When the Moulin Rouge closed after such a short time, how did the people on the West side react? Well, of course it was a shock to everybody at first because it was the only place that closed to "standing room only" audiences. As it eventuated, it was not lack of business or any money because the casinos were jumpin' all day and all night. But the motivation for opening in the first place had nothing to do with providing Las Vegas with the first interracial hotel. These people wanted to get into the gaming business. They did not pay their sub-contractors and their vendors and so the sheriff padlocked the door, because of all these liens that were put against it. The sheriff came out and padlocked the door. That's how it closed. So it was a shock at first. Then of course there was a whole lot of people unemployed overnight. That is a real heartbreaker.