“Working Overtime” by: Dick James
Looking back on Elvis Presley’s life on this anniversary of his death, it’s strange how much mystery still clings to his memory. We all know about the hit records, the extended regency in Las Vegas, the lifestyle, etc. There are still the rumors about his death, was it suicide, was he murdered or did he really die?
I worked in Vegas during the 50’s and 60’s at the Flamingo, the Desert Inn, and finally the Stardust. Mostly properties owned by reputed mobster Morris “Moe” Dalitz. We always think about the Las Vegas in movies, limo’s, high rollers, plush hotel suites, but when you work there it’s like any other job. Okay, well maybe not “any” other job…
Elvis was a regular in Vegas, not just as a performer but remember Elvis was married in Milton Prell’s apartment at the Aladdin Hotel. Milton Prell started out as a small time operator of the Bingo Palace, moved up to owner of the Aladdin and then built the Sahara while also owning the Mint downtown. Mr. Prell was a good friend of Col. Parker, Elvis’s manager (who it was rumored was degenerate gambler).
I first met Elvis Presley when I was working at the Stardust. I was in the sales department and my boss used to send me to the airport to pick people up. Some times they would tell me who I was going to pick up sometimes they didn’t. One day my boss ask me if I would recognize Dick Nixon (this was after he had lost the Governor’s race to Pat Brown in California) nobody wanted to pick the former V.P. up so I did.
A couple of times it was Moe Dalitz. Mr. Dalitz was always a nice guy, scary, but he was nice with to me. Then I was sent to pick up Elvis. I never understood why, I didn’t mind but he didn’t perform at any of Mr. Dalitz’s properties so I didn’t know why a Stardust employee would be sent, but it wasn’t any of my business.
I picked Elvis up several times. Real nice guy. Several years later, after his death, a book came out about him. Not so much about him but more about Col. Parker and Parker’s connection to the mob.
Parker was a gambler and he got in pretty deep to the guys like Mr. Dalitz in Vegas. Supposedly he was forced to keep Elvis working in Las Vegas to cover his debt. All of the casinos made money when Elvis was in town so in retrospect, I can see why a young conference salesman at the Stardust might be sent to pick up Elvis, we were all benefiting from him.