Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. Shes a little bit nice.  
She calls em like she sees (and hears) em.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from March 14, 2008
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - March 14, 2008

Norman Kaye & Governor Jim Gibbons

Lounge legend Norman Kaye is in dire need of help...NOW!

From Rick Vittallo (also known as Rick Verde) comes this urgent message...

In 1951, when I was 23 years old, I had the opportunity to play in Las Vegas with my trio. The biggest act in town was The Mary Kaye Trio, true pioneers of the lounge entertainment venue. I met the multitalented Norman Kaye at that time. I traveled the world as guitarist with The Three Suns. No matter where I played, I would meet someone who had seen Norman and his sister, Mary Kaye, perform. I retired to Las Vegas in 2003 and found myself living a scant 500 yards from Norman and his wife Barbara. Norman has suffered a stroke and is currently in a rehab center in Summerlin, Nevada. He is about to be removed from the facility because Medicare will only pay for 20 days of care. Norman served with distinction in the U.S. Air Corps and was awarded The Bronze Star for Bravery. He wrote more than 100 songs and a songbook praising Nevada along with countless Works of Poetry, earning him the Honorable Title, "Poet Laureate Emeritus of Nevada." His song, Throw a Dime My Way, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, he wrote the song, Have a Heart, Lend a Hand, that helped raise more monies for corporate charities. As I write this, I am wondering, "Where are all those who showered him with praise, profited from his celebrity and enjoyed hearing his beautiful voice?" Through the years, he has helped many musicians and has mentored many others. Is this the reward this Entertainment Giant deserves? I don't think so. The SMART ONES have relieved Norman of most of the profit from his works and he is living on a modest social security benefit. NORMAN NEEDS HELP NOW. WHO WILL STAND UP FOR NORMAN IN HIS TIME OF NEED? I will. Will you? Its time to "HAVE A HEART AND LEND A HAND" to Norman and Barbara. Any offerings of aid should be directed to only Barbara Meriwether Kaye or Norman Kaye at P.O. Box 36432, Las Vegas, NV 89133.


Rick Vittallo

Lifetime Member Local 10/2O8

3683 McMurty Court

Las Vegas, NV 89129

(702) 804-9266

[email protected].

And from Nelson Sardelli comes this e-mail...

Dear fellow Entertainers, Press Folks and Civilians,

Norman Kaye is in DIRE NEED OF HELP. Unless some money is raised, he will be "ousted" from the rehabilitation facility this Sunday. Please take just a few moments to read and then send this information to all the good people you know who would be willing to help someone they may very well also know. We do not have time to put on a show, to have an auction, or the other ideas I have been getting so far from some of you nice folks out there. We need coordination, an immediate plan and most of all, ACTION! To do all of the above-mentioned things, it will take some time or it will be another flop, as was the one recently put on for another entertainer by some other group. I am suggesting the following...Anyone who is financially "balanced," and can afford it, please send ASAP a check or Money Order to:

Barbara Meriwether Kaye or Norman Kaye

P.O. Box 36432

Las Vegas, NV. 89133

From Sunday, March 16th, onwards, it will cost $120.00 a day to keep Norman at the facility where he is now. If we can raise some money IMMEDIATELY, it will give us time to "prepare" some event, which could generate some serious amount, thusly giving some extra time for Barbara to seek assistance from the proper agencies. I have raised some money at the non-club club, F.I.O.R.E. F.I.O.R.E. is not a charitable organization, but some of the guys came through with flying colors. Let me hear from you. I am going to call an emergency meeting in the next day or so and I need to know how many of you can attend...It will be a brainstorm meeting so we can come up with some good plan and direction. I, Nelson Sardelli, can be reached at (702) 646-1813 and/or at (702) 499-6919. There are many of you out there with some good intentions, so please let us make this collective effort and generate good financial results, which can be verified by anyone at the drop of a hat. As soon as I can secure a place, I will inform you. At present, I am having my home remodeled and cannot offer it as a place for the intended meeting. Please, again, let me hear from you.


Nelson Sardelli

FYI...Norman Kaye wrote Throw a Dime My Way, the National March of Dimes song selected from a field of more than 39,000 entries. He also composed Have A Heart, Lend A Hand, the World theme song for Variety Club International. He was Chairman of the Las Vegas Golden Circle, a group of affluent citizens that funded the Las Vegas Community Theatre, and Chairman of the Multiple Charities of Nevada Art Fund. Norman was awarded eight National ASCAP Awards for musical compositions. Perhaps one of the most famous of his compositions is the Hawaiian Island standard, A Miele Lie for Your Hair. In April of last year, Governor Jim Gibbons honored Norman Kaye for his 40 years of volunteer service to Nevada by appointing Kaye Poet Laureate Emeritus. Gibbons personally presented Kaye a certificate of appointment and commission at the governor's office in Las Vegas (see accompanying photo by Rich Johnston). Kaye was appointed Poet Laureate by Governor Grant Sawyer in 1967. He was reappointed by Governor Robert List in 1979, and again by Governor Richard Bryan in 1983. Nevada's poet laureate position has been largely inactive for two decades. "Norman Kaye has played a large role in music as both a performer and songwriter," said Governor Gibbons. "As a member of the Mary Kaye Trio in the 1950s and '60s, he helped create what we know as the 'lounge act.' As a singer/songwriter, he has written for Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Vikki Carr. But he also played a significant role in our state's history by serving as poet laureate for 40 years. I want Nevadans to continue to benefit from Mr. Kaye's service in this new emeritus position." Norman, who is 85-years-old, went into real estate after retiring from show business, has always been a giving man. Now he is the one who needs help. We can't let him down.

Here is an opportunity to see just what kind of an organization the Show Biz Society really is. Will they come forward and donate the $1000 offered to get Freddie Bell a star on the local Walk of Stars (turned down for a number of reasons, primarily because Freddie didn't want one and because it would have taken another $14,000 for the "honor") to help Norman Kaye?

In just a few days, caring individuals, using the jungle drum method, have collected a couple of thousand dollars to, hopefully, keep Norman in the rehab facility while other forms of assistance are sought. And, yes, we will be more than happy to accept checks or Money Orders made out directly to Barbara Kaye or Norman Kaye. Unlike some other local "charity" that claims to help in need entertainers, no "costs" will be deducted from any donations received.

Just received this news from Mr. Sardelli...At the crack of noon, on Tuesday, March 18th, there will be a planning meeting at Ben Ardito's Take 1 Restaurant (located on the southeast corner of 7th and Fremont in downtown Las Vegas). This will be where interested parties can voice opinions on how to raise funds to help Norman Kaye. His wife, Barbara, will be there to let folks know how Norman is doing and what his needs are at this time. If you can attend, please contact Nelson by phone at (702) 646-1813 or (702) 499-6919, or e-mail him at [email protected]. We thank you for your help.

* * * * * *

Jimmy Hopper

Gerry McCambridge

Lance Burton

New show times have been announced for Jimmy Hopper at Trader Vic's beautiful upstairs Lava Room. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the show will begin at 9 p.m., while on Fridays and Saturdays, the show will start at 9:30 p.m. A Wednesday show has been added and, for now, there are no performances on Sundays. If you have never seen Jimmy entertain, we urge you to do so. He is one unique performer. Trader Vic's is located right inside the Strip entrance of Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops.

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The press release states, The Mentalist Predicts His Own Future - Gerry McCambridge predicts Lance Burton will take the "Best Magician" award from the R-J. It goes on to say, that McCambridge has received official word that he was one of two finalists in the Las Vegas Review Journal's readers poll for "The Best of Las Vegas" award. Gerry McCambridge was one of the two finalists in the "Best Magician" category, alongside Lance Burton. "I am honored the readers of the R-J took time to vote for me," McCambridge says. "To be considered one of the two best magicians in all of Las Vegas, a town known as being the home of many great magic shows, such as David Copperfield and Penn and Teller, is a tremendous honor," he exclaims, "but there is no doubt in my mind the award should go to Lance. When I came out to visit Las Vegas, it was the Lance Burton Show and the Danny Gans show that caused me to set my sites on being a regular Las Vegas headliner, a dream I had since 1993. Lance actually took time to sit with me and give me words of encouragement," Gerry explains. "Lance told me to watch what I wish for, because it just may come true. Just to be nominated in the same category as Lance is an honor beyond explanation," continues McCambridge. "Performing every night in Las Vegas and spending the days with my wife and six children as a soccer dad is what I wished for, so Lance was right, I did get exactly what I wanted" says McCambridge. "Everything else, like this prestigious nomination, is a bonus I am very thankful for."

As terrific and amazing as we think Gerry McCambridge is, we hope he is wrong in this prediction. We are Lance Burton fans as well, but we think it would be great if Gerry took this award. As a relatively new Las Vegan, this would be a real feather in The Mentalist's cap as well as one that he deserves. At the very least, perhaps the R-J should initiate an additional category in their Best Of... competition. If there was something called "Most Unique Magic Act in Las Vegas," Gerry McCambridge should win that one, hands down. There are no disappearing tigers in his act, no helicopters on the stage, no levitations and, thank goodness, no Pamela Anderson. What there is, is simply astounding, "how did he do that?" entertainment. If you haven't seen The Mentalist at work, take the opportunity to do so. Show times at Hooters are Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 p.m. Call toll free (866) 584-6687.

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OOOPS! Even Cousin Claire makes a mistake every now and then. In last week's column, we accidentally put the wrong MONTH for Lisa Dawn Miller's upcoming dates at the Metropolitan Room in New York City. Lisa makes her return engagement to the popular cabaret on MARCH 25th and 26th, NOT in April (although, who knows, she may be back there in April). Yesterday (Thursday, March 13th), Lisa was back at the Suncoast Showroom as part of the Ed Mathews' Hit Parade series. Lisa paid tribute to her late father, songwriter Ron Miller, performing many of his well-known tunes. Poet Ron Miller was known primarily for writing hits for Motown artists, i.e. For Once In My Life, Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday, Place In the Sun, Heaven Help Us All and Place In the Sun for Stevie Wonder, and Touch Me In the Morning for Diana Ross. He also wrote I've Never Been to Me and If I Could, among hundreds of others. In her show, I Want To Come Back As a Song: Ron Miller, A Knight of Lyrics, Lisa showcases some of her father's lesser-known songs. A new addition to her latest offering included a touching video showing photos of Ron Miller, as well as clips from an appearance on the Merv Griffin Show of Miller singing some of his own songs, along with a beautiful letter written to his newborn granddaughter. Now a healthy teen, the youngster was born with multiple health issues. We suggest that, when Lisa gets ready to record her second CD (her first is called Fly Away), she should definitely include the gems, The Things I Should Have Said, Whenever You Find Yourself and Wasn't I a Good Time among them. Ron Miller has definitely earned his place in the Songwriters' Hall of Fame (is anybody listening?). This week's Suncoast show, once again, featured Lisa's son, 7-year-old Oliver Liam Richman. Singing two songs, Defying Gravity from the Tony-winning musical, Wicked, and his grandfather's, For Once In My Life, two of the proudest people in the full showroom were Oliver's maternal grandmother, Aurora Miller (a talented songwriter in her own right) and equally talented and creative Auntie Debbie Hoover. The mostly senior-age audience loves this talented youngster. Including him in his mother's show was a smart move on the part of producer Mathews. If you are in the New York area, Lisa will also be making return appearances at the Metropolitan Room on March25th and 26th. If you are in the neighborhood, try to see her in this intimate cabaret setting.

* * * * * *

Ron Miller & Lisa Dawn Miller

Billy Eckstine

Chick Hughes & Freddie House

We love our readers...and writers.

Hi Claire,

I met you at the Christmas Party for the F.I.O.R.E Club, of which I am a member. The reason I am writing is because I thought you would be interested in this short story about Freddie House. I met Freddie a couple of years ago, at a CAST luncheon at the Greek Isles Casino. We sat together and talked for an hour about his alleged father "Billy Eckstine," who I had met once in Atlantic City, N.J. many years ago. I was a big fan of Billy's singing. Freddie told me all these stories about growing up with Billy Eckstine and what a great father and husband he was. A few months later, Freddie was performing at the Sahara Casino as the son of Billy Eckstine and I took a very rare record of his alleged father, that I had in my collection, and I gave it to Freddie as a gift because, in my heart, I thought he would appreciate it, being the son of such a great legend. Freddie was overjoyed to receive the record and had his wife take this picture of him holding the record. Needless to say, I am very disappointed in the Fraud of a person like Freddie, living and lying about such a great and wonderful legend like Billy Eckstine.


Chick Hughes

And, from one of Billy Eckstine's REAL offspring, Gina Eckstine, comes this letter, sent after she saw the accompanying photo and heard Chick's the story...

I have that same album, except mine is on CD. I would love to have that album!!!! I collect my Dad's old records. It makes the pleasure of having one of his records more treasured, when added to my collection by one of his beloved fans. I know how special he was to so many people, and for them to give me one of his records from their own collection has always touched my heart. Freddie House should really be ashamed of himself. He is despicable! It hurts my heart and brings a tear to my eye when I think of how he has stolen from my fathers' beloved fans. You see, all my life I have stood and listened to the thousands of Mr. B fans (a name we siblings affectionately call them) each share their special story of my father and how much his music affected them and their lives. I never grow tired or bored. I listen, and am moved by the way he touched them, because we share something SPECIAL... we all loved him. Now to know that even one fan (most likely more) has been deceived and robbed of a special moment in their lives has me livid!!! They probably have told others of that special moment they shared with "Billy Eckstine's Son," never knowing that they gave away their treasured keepsake that they have had for over 40 years, to a lying, low life con man. How does Freddie look at himself in the mirror? I almost feel sorry for him because he must be mentally ill. But he needs to stop now. The charade is over. His covers have been pulled, and he needs to assume his own identity and leave the Eckstine family, and all of my father's fans, out of his sick twisted, pathetic, psychopathic game, and seek professional help. I'd like to personally apologize to Mr. Hughes for Freddie's scam. I am so angry that he has stolen from you. I am truly sorry.
And to you Mr. Freddie House...I demand that you send all gifts that you have received from my fathers devoted fans, either back to them, or to their intended recipients; me or my siblings!!!!! Do the right thing Freddie, clean up your wreckage! As my father use to say, "God does not like ugly"' And you, my want to-be-brother, are UGLY!!! Come on Freddie, the DNA does not lie. You are not an Eckstine. Of course, you and I have known that from the start.

If Mr. House has ANY conscience at all, we suggest that he gather up all of the Eckstine memorabilia he has accepted under false pretenses, and either returns them to the kind people who gave him the treasures, OR give them to Billy's REAL family members. Incidentally, Gina Eckstine inherited her father's musical talent. Before devoting most of her time to raising her child, she was a regular performer (both with her father and on her own), entertaining around the country...including in Las Vegas.

* * * * * *

Also, to Tim from Texas who wrote with this question in December...

Singer Michael Lee used to perform lounge act at Fitzgeralds, where is he now?

Mr. Lee, himself, contacted us with this news...

Michael Lee, known as "The Singer of Memories," and his band, Heat of the Night, will perform at Fitzgeralds (where he had a steady gig for three years) on March 14th from 9 to 11 p.m. This time around, instead of being in the open lounge on the casino level, Michael and the band will entertain in the downtown hotel's upstairs showroom. It will cost you $10 for the opportunity to see the group in a quieter, less distracting, intimate setting. Sounds like $10 well spent.

* * * * * *

Las Vegas will have its first, of what may become an annual fundraiser, the Easter Bonnet Competition & Show to benefit the St. Therese Center HIV Outreach program. This very special event is modeled after New York's Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet production that has been a success for more than 20 years. The show will feature Easter Bonnet submissions from the major production shows on the Las Vegas Strip as well as hats submitted by local and national corporations. The public's interest and involvement in this wonderful event is welcome. The Easter Bonnet Competition & Show will take place in the Chippendales Theatre at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, this Sunday March 16th, beginning at 2 p.m. Rachel Smith, from KVVU-TV, FOX 5, and Brian Cheatham from Chippendales, will host. Judges include our Phavorite Phantom, Brent Barrett; KVBC Channel 3's Alicia Jacobs; Chris Saldana, from KLAS Channel 8; and Tina Walsh, currently portraying Madame Giry in Phantom -The Las Vegas Spectacular. The celebrities will be judging bonnets submitted by, among others, Chippendales (Rio), Menopause The Musical (Las Vegas Hilton), Mamma Mia! (Mandalay Bay), Phantom -The Las Vegas Spectacular (The Venetian), Spamalot (Wynn Las Vegas), The Star Trek Experience (Las Vegas Hilton), and, not too surprisingly, Hats! (Harrah's). Saint Therese Center HIV Outreach, under the guidance of Executive Director Father Joseph O'Brien O.P., serves Southern Nevada, reaching out to all those who are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Emphasizing wellness, the Saint Therese Center provides physical, emotional and spiritual support, as well as education with compassion and loving care. Their services and programs include Dry Food Pantries, Food Pantry Certificates, Transportation Assistance, Daily Sandwich Program, Support Groups for Women/Children/Family/Friends and Caregivers, Bereavement Groups, HIV/AA Group, Referrals to other HIV Agencies for Medical care, plus so much more. Saint Therese Center HIV Outreach, a tax-exempt organization, is run primarily by volunteers. Because Las Vegas/Henderson is one of the fastest growing areas in the US, the need for the services that Saint Therese provides continues to increase. Contributions from caring individuals, businesses and religious organizations are gratefully accepted. All gifts are tax deductible. Tickets for the Easter Bonnet Competition & Show are $20, $25 and $75 for VIP seating, and available at the door or by calling (702) 564-4224. For those who would like more information, wish to participate, make a donation, or sponsor the event, please contact the center at (702) 564-4224, or check their Web site at

* * * * * *

A correction (did Cousin Claire make yet ANOTHER mistake?)...In our shameless plug for Tony Arias, Lloyd Ziel (also known as the musical comedy team of Tony & Lloyd) and Tim Searcy, and their upcoming Victorious in Concert, we used the wrong Web site address (one added letter can make a great big difference). To try to make it up to the fellows, we are giving them some added ink. This Sunday, March 16th, the concert, described as "A New Dawn of Christian Contemporary Music," takes place at 7 p.m. at the Metropolitan Community Church, 1140 Almond Tree Lane (off East Sahara near Maryland Parkway). Arias tells us that "Victorious takes the audience on a journey of emotions, from elation to gratitude, that will change their lives." Tony, Lloyd and Tim have been singing together at their church for years. They promise to inspire the audience with amazing and uplifting music." Tickets for the first Las Vegas appearance of Victorious are $10 each. Seating is limited. Call (702) 585-6342 or e-mail to [email protected] to reserve your spot. That's

* * * * * *

We couldn't make it to see Paul Campanella's Let the Good Times Roll at Independence Hall in Sun City Anthem last Sunday, so we asked chick singer Diane Ellis to represent us and give a report. "Thanks so much for the ticket to Paul's show at Anthem. Paul was terrific. In addition to singing, Campanella also plays keyboards, guitar, drums and harmonica in his show. He's got the moves and a very comfortable and likable patter between songs and a nice rapport with the audience. The band _ Jeff Johnson on keyboards, Steven Raimundez on bass, Rob Mader on sax and Jeff Krashin on drums - sounded great and the girl singer, Elisa Dease (she has worked with the "Purple One," aka Prince), was very good. Among the wide variety of material performed by Campanella and company, Let the Good Times Roll, a "Battle of the Sexes" (with Paul doing a BB King take and Elisa singing Aretha Franklin's Think/Respect), My Funny Valentine, a Motown medley (My Girl, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher) and an audience-involved version of Mustang Sally (with three "volunteers" acting as the backup "Paulettes"). After the show, Paul greeted the audience in the lobby. "I gave him my e-mail address so he could keep me informed when he'll be performing at Lucille's restaurant at The District at Green Valley Ranch," added Diane. If you missed seeing Campanella this time out, watch for his name to appear here the next time he does his own show (Paul is also a cast member of Tony n' Tina's Wedding at the Rio), and catch him in action.

Diane Ellis

Darin Hollingsworth

As for Diane Ellis (mentioned above), longtime Las Vegans, or Vegas visitors, will remember talented Diane as a member of the vocal groups, Chazz and D'Cal, that played around these parts for sometime. Ms. Ellis, who has a great flair for comedy (she does a knockout Lucille Ball character), was also featured in the Vegas version (at the Sands) of the San Francisco three-decades old hit, Beach Blanket Babylon, as well as Bill Moore and George Arnold's Broadway Varieties at the Flamingo in Laughlin. She has appeared with the Don Rickles, the Four Freshmen, Marty Allen and Steve Rossi, Freddie Cole (Nat's brother), and Freda Payne. For a number of years, Diane was a member of The Royal Court Singers at the Excalibur. Today, she is one of the most sought after voiceover artists in the community. To learn more about Diane Ellis, check out

* * * * * *

Get out your green (cash and clothes)...St. Patrick's Day is on Monday. There are many fun things to do in Las Vegas (too many to mention) when it comes to this holiday. Here are just a couple. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day with exciting holiday specials and live music to entice the inner Irish in all. To keep in the spirit of the holiday, McCormick and Schmick's will offer Irish drink specials featuring Green Beer, Guinness, Bushmills and Baileys. The celebration includes Irish dishes corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew in addition to their famous $1.95 bar menu. The restaurant will honor the city's cab drivers with their 4th annual 'Happy St. Cabby's Day.' A visiting leprechaun will be passing out Lucky Charms cereal to the drivers, and serving a complimentary hot breakfast, featuring green eggs and ham between 8 am and 9 a.m. In addition, if the cabbies stop by anytime before 5 p.m., they can pick up a special gift certificate while supplies last. McCormick & Schmick's is located at 335 Hughes Center Drive, off Flamingo at Paradise Road.

Killian's Angels will play tonight and tomorrow at Brendan's Pub at the Orleans from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., as well as on St. Paddy's day, Monday the 17th, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. If the girls - Ginger Bruner, Vita Corimbi, Dolly Coulter, Nan Fortier, Beth Mullaney and Lisa Viscuglia - can't get you in a holiday mood, you're just not trying. May the luck of the Irish be with you.

* * * * * *

One of our favorite musical offerings, the Composers Showcase, takes place this month on Tuesday, the 18th, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (after theater) at the popular Liberace's Museum. The March edition will feature the songs of local composers and songwriters, Jason Andino, Michael Brennan, Vita Corimbi, Thom Culcasi, Ben Hale, Rylan Leo Helmuth, Kyle Norris, Rebecca Ramsey, Keith Thompson and Mark Wherry, sung by Moriah Angeline, Dustin Dubreuil, Bruce Ewing, Jacquelyn Holland, Jeff Knaggs, Katie O'Toole and Joan Sobel, plus members of the cast of Mamma Mia! and other special guests! Some of the city's top musicians will also be featured, including Philip Fortenberry, Mike Hines and Moonlight Tran. The Liberace Museum is located at the corner of Tropicana and Spencer, next to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens. Come early for dinner at Carluccio's, serving until 10 p.m., and then attend the showcase. There is a Cash bar (no credit cards, please), and for $5, an hors d'oeuvres buffet is provided by Keg and Cork Catering. Even if you don't take advantage of the $5 buffet (or if you do), a donation to the hosts (the Liberace Museum) is graciously accepted. In case you didn't know it, the museum closes at 5 p.m. during the week. Darin Hollingsworth (shown in Liberace's modest Volks Royce) and the kind folks who spend their days with Liberace memorabilia and gifts galore come back at night to reopen the museum just for the showcase. Now, if that doesn't make you cough up a few bucks for the Liberace Foundation (and the employees' troubles), we don't know what will! The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance. Incidentally, if you have never toured the Liberace Museum, you haven't seen Las Vegas. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. Free shuttle service is available from the Strip. For additional information, call (702) 798-5595.

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