Where Were the Vegas Homes of the Rat Pack Located? – Las Vegas Advisor

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A:

They weren’t.

When they were performing in Sin City, Frank and Dino preferred to stay at whatever hotel they were playing, most famously the Sands (on whose site the Venetian now sits). They flew in from Palm Springs, in Sinatra’s case, or Los Angeles, did their stint, then left.

Sammy, of course, was prohibited from staying on the Strip in the ’50s and had to bunk in rooming houses in Westside. The story goes that Sinatra threatened to take his bat, ball, and the whole team home, never to return, unless the Strip bosses relented and they did; they made an except for Davis, Jr. That started the integration ball rolling and in 1960, the Mississippi of the West lifted all Jim Crow restrictions, desegregating Las Vegas.

Joey Bishop was an L.A. guy; he was an actor and comedian who wrote most of the Rat Pack’s material and hosted late-night talk shows, including his own for a couple of years, and starred in the “The Joey Bishop Show” sitcom for four years during the Rat Pack’s heyday.

Peter Lawford, the fifth of the five main Rat Packers, hailed from England, but became a bona fide Los Angeleno where he appeared in dozens of movies, including Exodus, The Longest Day, Harlow, It Should Happen to You, and of course Ocean’s 11. In fact, Lawford was the one who first heard of the plot of Ocean’s 11 (from a director who’d heard it from an L.A. gas station attendant) and bought the rights to the movie. 

To our knowledge and from a search of Clark County property records, none of the five ever owned any property here. 

It was different for some of the minor Rat Packers. One of the foremost experts on such things, Cult Vegas author Mike Weatherford, explains.

“Fifties and sixties pop singer Jerry Vale was part of the outer circle and lived here in the seventies. Actor Nicky Blair was in the circle and had [an eponymous] restaurant at Hughes Center before he died. Buddy Lester was one of the Ocean’s 11 (a big number to get to, when you think about it), but he died before I got a chance to talk to him for my book.”

That search of Clark County property records failed to turn up any linkages. You’d be surprised how many Blairs and Lesters have made the Las Vegas Valley their home, turning our quest into a search for a needle in a haystack. We caught a break in the case of Buddy Lester, who lived at the Las Vegas Country Club until 1993. (He died in 2002.)

Blair — like Lester, a victim of cancer — had the aforementioned restaurant, which ran fitfully between May 1996 and September 1998, shortly before Blair’s November 1998 demise. Vale generally preferred Palm Desert, where he died in May 2014. If Lester and Blair owned homes in Las Vegas, their obituaries in the Las Vegas Sun failed to mention it.

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