From left to right: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and seated is Sammy Davis, Jr. They were known for their hard-living showbiz lifestyle that often played out in the tabloids. They drank, gambled and were entertainers.
During the 1950s and 1960s they were at the very top of the entertainment world and many believe they played some of the greatest music ever recorded. Their glamorous lifestyles were also legendary, rubbing shoulders with the most influential people of the era. They were known for playing at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.
The Sands Hotel was one of the first ten hotels to open on the Las Vegas strip. It was actually the seventh resort to be built. Many believe the Sand’s claim to fame began in a three-week period in 1960 during the filming of Ocean’s Eleven. It was during that time that Sinatra, Martin, Bishop, Lawford and Davis performed in the famous Copa Room. The performances were called the “Summit at the Sands” and is considered to be the birth of the Rat Pack. The Copa Room was named after the famous Copacabana Club in New York City.
The year 1960 vaulted the Rat Pack and Las Vegas into the spotlight as the Entertainment Capital of the World. They became the best entertainment American audiences had seen or heard in the post-World War II era. Some of the most famous women were known to hang out with them, including: Lauren Bacall, Juliet Prowse, Angie Dickinson, Shirley MacLaine, and Marilyn Monroe.
Before signing on with the Sands, the members of the Rat Pack each had their own careers and played in other hotels on the strip. Sinatra played at the Desert Inn and became the leader of the Rat Pack, Sammy Davis was at the Last Frontier, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were at the Flamingo. Once those contracts expired, they moved to the Sands. The price of a ticket to see the Rat Pack at the Sands was dinner and a minimum of two drinks: $5.95 per person.
For years, Frank or Dean would cradle Sammy Davis in their arms, offering him to the audience, and say, “I’d like to thank the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for this award.” It brought down the house.
Eventually the Rat Pack folded. The Sands Hotel closed its doors on June 30th, 1996 and today, in its place, is the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.
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