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Clark, Wilbur, 1908-1965


Wilbur Clark (1908-1966) developed and designed the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As the head of the resort, he promoted the Desert Inn and Las Vegas throughout the nation.

Born to Shirley and Lulu Clark in Keyesport, Illinois on December 27, 1908, Wilbur Clark moved to San Diego, California at sixteen. He worked a series of jobs before moving to Reno, Nevada in 1951 and starting a career in gaming. After several years in Reno, he moved to Las Vegas in 1938 and, with several partners, opened a casino on Boulder Highway.

In 1944, Wilbur married Toni Gaglionese and in the same year he purchased the El Rancho Vegas. He also opened the Monte Carlo Club on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. He sold the two properties and used the proceeds to build a new resort, the Desert Inn. After running out of funds due to rising costs, Clark sold a majority interest in the Desert Inn to Moe Dalitz and the resort opened April 24, 1950. Clark added an eighteen-hole golf course the next year. The new resort attracted many prominent guests and received national attention. Clark sold his interest in the Desert Inn in 1964.

In addition to the Desert Inn, Clark also built the Paradise Gardens housing development, naming the streets after himself and his family. He also served as mayor of the township of Paradise Valley. Clark passed away from a heart attack in 1965.