Sometimes, the past is best served as a big bowl of doodles, so welcome to our second Illustrated History edition, featuring Dario Herrera, various obscure figures of the past, an intimate recollection of the valley’s movie theaters, a doomed mammoth and five wild historical moments that took place in Las Vegas hotel rooms (talking to you, O.J.!).
January 17, 1942: Clark Gable, crazed with worry, paces his room at the new El Rancho hotel. He was flown to Las Vegas upon learning that a plane carrying his wife, Carole Lombard, had crashed the night before on nearby Mount Potosi. Gable spends a long and frantic weekend at the hotel, waiting on word from search and rescue parties.
Aug. 20, 1964: The Beatles stay at the Sahara hotel following two performances at the Convention Center. In the early hours, a distraught mother shows up at the Sahara hotel, claiming The Beatles kidnapped her twin daughters. Larry Kane, a radio reporter covering their tour, offers to help, and opens John Lennon’s door to find two underage girls in Lennon’s room. But it was much more innocent than it might have appeared. “He was asleep, and they were sitting on the edge of the other bed watching television and eating popcorn,” Kane told the Review-Journal. Kane speculated the girls came to the room to get Lennon’s autograph, after which Lennon passed out. “He’s just the kind of guy who would have invited two kids into his room to watch TV,” Kane said.
1966-1970: Billionaire recluse Howard Hughes, wracked by pain and addicted to morphine, turns his suite at the Desert Inn into a hermit’s den. He rarely dresses, let alone bathes. Obsessed with germs, he seals his doors with tape, lets his hair and fingernails grow, urinates in jars and wears tissue boxes on his feet. He spends much of his time watching movies. But from this dim, filthy room, he also buys casinos, businesses and vacant land across the valley. It signals the end of the mob age and paves the way for a new era of corporate investment in Las Vegas.
September 13, 2007: Former pro football player O.J. Simpson leads a group of armed men who break into room 1203 at the Palace Station to retrieve sports memorabilia Simpson claims was stolen from him. Simpson is charged and found guilty of kidnapping, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and seven other counts. He’s serving his sentence in Lovelock, Nevada, and is eligible for parole in October 2017.
June 27, 2002: After a night at the bar with bandmates, Who bassist John Entwistle retires to his room at the Hard Rock Hotel to party with a stripper named Sianna. After doing some cocaine and, presumably, other strenuous activities, Entwistle falls asleep, never to wake up. The coroner determines Entwistle died of a cocaine-induced heart attack. (Roger Daltrey later joked that Entwistle would have wanted his all-too-classic death scene turned into an exhibit befitting the Hard Rock’s theme.)