Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004 | 9:44 a.m.
Charlie Meyerson, a one-time bookie and World War II hero who as longtime casino host at the Mirage was known for his high energy and for bringing in East Coast high-rollers, died Saturday in Florida. He was 88.
Services were to be private today in Farmingdale, N.Y.
"Charlie Meyerson lit up the lives of everyone he touched -- his family, his colleagues and his customers," said Steve Wynn, former chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc.
"He was a truly unique individual known for his goodwill, his twinkling sense of humor, his energy and his stamina. He made a historic contribution to Las Vegas."
Wynn said the delicatessen at the new Wynn-Las Vegas will be named for Charlie Meyerson, who was referred to in newspaper articles of the early 1990s as "superhost."
In a March 27, 1992, Sun story, Wynn called Meyerson "the most popular man who ever worked for our corporation."
In 1987, at age 72, Meyerson was plucked from Wynn's Atlantic City Golden Nugget by Wynn and brought to Las Vegas for a $400,000-a-year job in the Golden Nugget's customer development department and for a similar post at the Mirage when it opened on Nov. 22, 1989.
Wynn said he saw in Meyerson a vibrant force to make the Mirage a leading gaming property. So much so, he gave Meyerson a lifetime contract that was picked up by MGM-Mirage when Wynn sold his properties in 2000.
"When he was 85 years old, Charlie was doing the Stairmaster twice a day," Wynn said. "Guys much younger could not keep up with him. He was putting in 15-hour days well into his 80s."
Gil Cohen, director of customer development at the Rampart resort, said his longtime friend may have exercised to remain healthy late in life, but he said Meyerson also had unusual dietary habits that clashed with those efforts.
"Charlie refused to eat green vegetables, but his desk was always full of Mallomars and other chocolate bars," Cohen said. "For breakfast, he'd order pancakes with two sides of bacon but refused butter and syrup."
While Meyerson's eating habits may have been less than desirable, his abilities as a casino host were admired industry-wide.
"He was one of the best at it," Cohen said. "Charlie made his customers feel welcome. And when it came to collecting money (from markers given to high rollers) he had a way of convincing them that paying up was the gentlemanly thing to do -- the manly thing to do.
"His customer base included everyone from the $25 bettor to the $100,000 bettor -- all of whom he treated with respect and dignity."
Meyerson also rubbed elbows with celebrities, including Frank Sinatra. They were longtime friends born one day apart -- Sinatra on Dec. 12, 1915, in Hoboken, N.J., and Meyerson on Dec. 13, 1915, in New York.
Meyerson grew up in New York and joined the Marines. He served in the South Pacific during World War II, earned a Silver Star for bravery and took shrapnel in his legs that put him in a Northern California military hospital for six months, Wynn said.
After the war, Meyerson, a friend of Wynn's late father Michael, owned a New York cab company and later worked as a bookie in Miami. Meyerson left for Atlantic City in 1980 when Wynn hired him to be a casino host at his New Jersey property.
Cohen said Meyerson always remembered with fondness the opportunity Wynn gave him "to become legit."
Meyerson worked in Atlantic City through 1986, when he left for Las Vegas to work for Wynn's Golden Nugget before going to the Mirage. He moved to Florida, in 1999, but continued to provide customer services for his customers at both the Mirage and Bellagio.
Meyerson's survivors include his wife Pam Meyerson of Florida; five sons; four daughters; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.