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November 17, 2017

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Tony Bennett, Wayne Newton to help trumpet Caesars’ 50th anniversary

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L.E. Baskow

One of the many sculptured angels about the exterior of Caesars Palace on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

Fireworks, food and fame — led by singing legend Tony Bennett — will be the order of the weekend as Caesars Palace celebrates its 50th anniversary Aug. 5 and 6.

Announced today is a fireworks show at 10:20 p.m. Aug. 5, 50 years to the night that the Strip’s first themed hotel-casino opened for business. Star chef Gordon Ramsay is hosting a birthday pool party at Garden of the Gods, exclusive to invited and hotel guests (to book a night and be on that list, go to caesars.com/CP50).

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Aug. 25, 1966: Tony Bennett opens at Caesars Palace.

The next night, the hotel trumpets its rich entertainment history with a VIP invite-only show headlined by Bennett at Caesars Ballroom. Bennett was the second headliner ever at the iconic, 800-seat Circus Maximus showroom (Andy Williams opened the venue). He played there in 1966 and 1969 and was the only entertainer awarded a lifetime contract at the hotel, as a news release issued today states. He most recently played Caesars at the Colosseum in 2012 and 2013, and this year, he will be honored on his 90th birthday, which is Aug. 3, just before the gala celebration.

Set to host the night’s festivities is comic Howie Mandel, who also headlined at Circus Maximus and hosted the hotel’s 30th anniversary celebration and TV special in 1996. The Circus Maximus showroom was taken apart to make way for the Colosseum, which opened for Celine Dion in 2002.

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Wayne Newton and Matt Goss rockin' The Gossy Room at Cleopatra's Barge in Caesars Palace.

Also set to appear and perform: Wayne Newton, who was headlining at the Flamingo when Caesars opened and is still in the Caesars Entertainment operation at Windows Showroom at Bally’s; current Flamingo stalwarts Donny and Marie; six-year Caesars headliner Matt Goss; and Harrah’s headliners the Righteous Brothers. The 20-piece orchestra is being conducted by longtime Las Vegas bandleader and musician Lon Bronson.

Those being recognized for their roles in the hotel’s history include Ramsay, the family of Caesars founder Jay Sarno; the family of motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel (who cleared the fountains facing the Strip but famously crashed his motorcycle in 1967); and Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits executive Larry Ruvo, who worked at Caesars early in his career in the Las Vegas hospitality industry.

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Evel Knievel attempts to jump the fountains at Caesars Palace on Dec. 31, 1967, in Las Vegas. Knievel’s attempt came up short, and he crashed upon landing, suffering a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles and a concussion that kept him in a hospital.

Among those who have seen the evolution of the Strip around Caesars Palace is Mr. Las Vegas himself.

“I consider it an honor to be asked to appear at the gala. Through the years I have appeared at just about every Caesars property,” Newton said in a text message relayed by his wife, Kathleen. “Of course, I was just a baby when Caesars opened in 1966.

“In all seriousness, who could have foreseen that Caesars Palace would become the flagship for what Las Vegas has become? I’m looking forward to this very special night.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats on Instagram Instagram.com/JohnnyKats1.

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