Loyal employees celebrate 40 years with Las Vegas Hilton

The Las Vegas Hilton celebrated its 40th anniversary on July 2 by saluting 20 employees who have worked at the Hilton since the year the property opened as the International in 1969.

Designed to be the world’s largest casino hotel at that time, Barbra Streisand opened the property, but it was Elvis who made it an instant Las Vegas landmark.  The International became the Las Vegas Hilton in March 1971. Colony Resorts purchased the Hilton in 2004.

The 40th anniversary celebration included day-long festivities in the employee dining room with music from 1969, a 1969 costume contest and raffle prizes. The original employees are as follows:

odesa-nelsonOdessa Nelson
Hired: June 28, 1969
Environmental Services
Odessa started in housekeeping and worked back stage. She fondly remembers working with Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Liberace, Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx and many more.

  • Jannie Hudson
    Hired: October 19, 1969
    Jannie remembers getting a first-hand look at all of Elvis’ costumes and capes. She also remembers having a lot of fun with the rest of the celebrities who came to the property, especially Bill Cosby.

lowell-reedLowell Reed
Hired: July 1, 1969
Chef’s Department
Lowell has worked for the Chef’s Department the entire time he’s worked at the Hilton. He fondly remembers cooking for Bill Cosby. He cooked soul food especially for him including fried chicken, greens and yams. He also would come in for pork chops smothered in thick gravy. Redd Foxx was a familiar face in the kitchen, he’d come to the back and specifically ask for Lowell to cook his bacon; he was the only one who knew how to do it right.

  • Larry Hawken
    Hired: August 2, 1968
    Larry transferred to the International (from the Flamingo Hilton) about six weeks before it opened. He remembers coming in from the general dock and being able to see straight through to the front door. There were no walls around the theater yet.

tim-buckleyTim Buckley
Hired: July 10, 1969
Tim says it was “busier than busy” during the International’s first year. This hotel was the place to see and be seen. As a valet, he had to wear dress shoes and long pants in 115 degree heat. There were no shorts, sneakers and polos back then.

  • Mary Ogas
    Hired: August 13, 1964
    Food & Beverage Cashier
    There is not a single person on this property who has been at the Las Vegas Hilton longer than Mary. She transferred to the International from the Flamingo Hilton and has been there ever since. Next month, Mary will celebrate her 45th anniversary.

roseanne-savarroRosanne Savarro
Hired: August 19, 1969
Front Desk
Rosanne came to the International just six weeks after it opened. She fondly remembers how everyone dressed — glamorous. She used to sneak into the theater on her breaks and watch Elvis practice for his concerts. Rosanne said it was just $10 for dinner and the Elvis show. What a bargain! She also remembers that Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx would stop by the front desk often, just to say hello.

  • Ronald Heit, February 26, 1968, Tempo bartender
  • James Deangelo, March 23, 1968, casino supervisor
  • Mario Martines, May 2, 1968, dealer
  • Angel Lopez-Rosas, March 11, 1968, Hilton Theater usher
  • Emma Schussold, March 19, 1969 environmental services porter
  • Dorothy Smith, June 26, 1969, head houseperson for housekeeping
  • Vernell Barnett, June 26, 1969, environmental services porter
  • Antonio Lauro, June 30, 1969, Hilton Theater usher
  • Ann Grinberg, July 1, 1969, cashier at Hibachi
  • Victor Petty, July 1, 1969, casino supervisor
  • Concepcion Hermosillo, October 24, 1969, environmental services porter
  • Mylas Thompson, November 14, 1969, banquet food server
  • Hidenori Nishihama, November 18, 1969, manager at Hibachi


There are 2 comments for this article
  1. PlanetPage at 2:56 pm

    Hello, Led Zeppelin visited International and stayed to see Elvis on Aug. 11, 12, or 13, 1969…Can anyone recall this…Please send me a e-mail I would like to confirm…

    we really need this info. to confirm their Las Vegas summer’69 concert…your assistance is valuable beyond words.

    Also, does anybody know how we find retired employees from Cesar’s Palace…Led Zeppelin stayed here possibly on July 30, 29, 28, 27 … we need to find staff who recalls this..

    Also, is it possible to find anything tangible ie. proof of reservations…accounts…Please help us..thank you..

  2. Caroline Fontein at 9:32 am

    Thanks for taking a look at our blogs. Unfortunately we don’t keep records of reservations, but you can find more information like that through the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. Their website is http://www.lvcva.com. As for contacting retired Caesars Palace employess you can try contacting the hotel directly to see if they can help you.

    Best of Luck,