Funeral services were held yesterday for Frank Sennes Sr., a well-known entertainment figure whose lavish production shows have entertained millions.
Sennes died Tuesday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 89.
Sennes was born in Warren, Ohio, on Oct. 9, 1903. After graduation from high school, he worked as an entertainment manager for several dance halls and resorts in Ohio and Pennsylvania, booking stars such as Guy Lombardo and Rudy Vallee.
In 1930, Sennes moved to California where he became the manager of Hollywood Gardens, a nightclub where he gave movie star Betty Grable her first break.
Sennes moved to Las Vegas in 1949 and became entertainment director of the Desert Inn Hotel when it opened the following year.
He later served in a similar capacity at the Stardust, Frontier and Holiday Casino resorts.
In 1953 he opened the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood, which was, at the time, the biggest nightclub, restaurant and showroom in America.
In 1970 it was estimated that 50 million people had seen Sennes’ lavish production shows, which he and his brothers spent more than $ 100 million staging.
When he took over at the Stardust, one of the first shows he staged was the “Lido de Paris.” A huge production with 11 elevators, grandiose lighting and sound and costumes that cost $ 450,000, it was also the first Las Vegas show that featured female dancers baring their breasts during the performance. The show, which opened in 1958, sold out for years before closing in 1991.
Stars who played the Desert Inn during Sennes’ tenure included Tony Martin, Noel Coward, Eddie Fisher, Betty Hutton, Frank Sinatra and the final performance of the Supremes before Diana Ross’ solo career.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, a daughter, three sons, and four sisters.
A memorial Mass was held yesterday morning at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church.