Alexander James Shoofey, who rose from humble beginnings in a Brooklyn orphanage to become a Las Vegas gaming giant, successively running the Sahara, Flamingo and Las Vegas Hilton resorts in the 1960s and early '70s, died Wednesday. He was 91.
The day after Elvis Presley opened at Las Vegas' Hotel International in 1969, the resort's president, Alex Shoofey, was in the showroom having a cup of coffee with Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Despite a hugely successful opening night, Shoofey was unhappy because the king of rock 'n' roll had been contracted to only two weeks a year at the new 1,500-room resort that today is the Las Vegas Hilton.
"Listen," Shoofey recalled telling Parker in his 2003 UNLV oral history interview. "I'd like to extend your contract ."
Parker balked: "Alex, it's too early. Let's find out whether he (Presley) can make it or not."
"I'll take that chance right now," Shoofey said. He then scribbled on the tablecloth a new pact that would result in more than 700 sell out performances from 1969 to 1976, resparking Presley's career and making him a Las Vegas icon.