My Frank Sinatra Experience By Steve Cutler


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In 1992 I resigned my position with Harrah’s in Atlantic City and relocated back to Las Vegas. I was totally burned out from the gaming industry and just needed to regroup and figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. The one thing I knew for sure, is I didn’t want to work in another casino.
After being home about a week I received a phone call from a longtime friend who was now in senior management at the Desert Inn. He asked me what my plans were, and I shared with him my feelings about going to work in a casino. He then asked me if I would consider hosting a three-day special event at the Desert Inn. I explained to him once again that my casino days were over, and I was not interested. He would not accept that and insisted that I hear him out. He told me that the guest list for this event included many of my customers from Atlantic City and it would be a fun event. I reluctantly agreed to meet him the next day for lunch at the Desert Inn where he shared the invitation list with me. Sure enough there were about ten players on the list that I knew from Atlantic City and many of them I considered friends. I explained to him that I received a very generous severance package, and I was collecting unemployment and I didn’t want to do anything to upset that. He assured me that I would be taken care of discreetly and no one would ever know of this short-term employment. Old school Las Vegas, cash in an envelope. He had the hook in at this point. I then asked him what the event was, his answer was “Frank Sinatra’s 77th Birthday”. Now he had my attention! I asked him “Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning, you don’t need to pay me anything”. After all we are talking Frank Sinatra and the legendary Desert Inn. He assured me again I would be well taken care of if I agreed to help host the event. I agreed at this point, who could refuse the opportunity to meet the “Chairman of the Board”.

The event was great, three nights, three shows, three dinners, golf, and an opportunity to see some of my old customers. My interaction with Frank Sinatra was minimal but we did speak briefly the first night. I had heard all the Sinatra stories, good and bad. My experience with him was great as I found him to be very congenial and warm. The management loved me, and I was promised a full-time host job when a position opened. No one ever quit the Desert Inn, and that position never did happen. While waiting for that coveted position, I worked full time and filled in wherever I was needed, working as a casino supervisor, pit boss and assisting with numerous special events in a host capacity. That three-day event turned into two years, but it was time to move on and that was my last casino job.