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The story of how Las Vegas saved Elvis and Elvis saved Las Vegas in the greatest musical comeback of all time. The conventional wisdom is that Las Vegas is what destroyed Elvis Presley, launching him on a downward spiral of drugs, boredom, erratic stage behavior, and eventually his fatal overdose. But in Elvis in Vegas, Richard Zoglin takes an alternate view, arguing that Vegas is where the King of Rock and Roll resurrected his career, reinvented himself as a performer, and created the most exciting show in Vegas history. Elvis's 1969 opening night in Vegas was his first time back on a live stage in more than eight years. His career had gone sour-bad movies, and mediocre pop songs that no longer made the charts. He'd been dismissed by most critics as over the hill. But in Vegas he played the biggest showroom in the biggest hotel in the city, drawing more people for his four-week engagement than any other show in Vegas history. His performance got rave reviews, "Suspicious Minds" gave him his first number-one hit in seven years, and Elvis became Vegas's biggest star. Over the next seven years, he performed more than 600 shows there, and sold out every one. Las Vegas was changed too. The intimate night-club-style shows of the Rat Pack, who made Vegas the nation's premier live-entertainment center in the 1950s and `60s, catered largely to well-heeled older gamblers. Elvis brought a new kind of experience: an over-the-top, rock-concert-like extravaganza. He set a new bar for Vegas performers, with the biggest salary, the biggest musical production, and the biggest promotion campaign the city had ever seen. In doing so, he opened the door to a new generation of pop/rock performers, and brought a new audience to Vegas-a mass audience from Middle America that Vegas depends on for its success to this day. A classic comeback tale set against the backdrop of Las Vegas's golden age, Richard Zoglin's Elvis in Vegas is a feel-good story for the ages.
With his topical jokes and his all-American, brash-but-cowardly screen character, Bob Hope was the only entertainer to achieve top-rated success in every major mass-entertainment medium of the century, from vaudeville in the 1920s all the way to television in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He virtually invented modern stand-up comedy. Above all, he helped redefine the very notion of what it means to be a star: a savvy businessman, an enterprising builder of his own brand, and a public-spirited entertainer whose Christmas military tours and unflagging work for charity set the standard for public service in Hollywood. As Richard Zoglin shows in this "entertaining and important book" (The Wall Street Journal), there is still much to be learned about this most public of figures, from his secret first marriage and his stint in reform school, to his indiscriminate womanizing and his ambivalent relationships with Bing Crosby and Johnny Carson. Hope could be cold, self-centered, tight with a buck, and perhaps the least introspective man in Hollywood. But he was also a tireless worker, devoted to his fans, and generous with friends. "Scrupulously researched, likely definitive, and as entertaining and as important (to an understanding of twentieth- and twenty-first-century pop culture) as its subject once genuinely was" (Vanity Fair), Hope is both a celebration of the entertainer and a complex portrait of a gifted but flawed man. "A wonderful biography," says Woody Allen. "For me, it's a feast."
The first definitive biography of Bob Hope, featuring exclusive and
extensive reporting that makes the persuasive case that he was most
important entertainer of the twentieth century.
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