Kirk Kerkorian – The Dealmaker of Las Vegas

Kirk Kerkorian (passed away) was one of the founding father of modern Las Vegas. He added vast resorts to The Strip and most of his portfolio is currently operated by MGM Entertainment. Kerkorian, a born Armenian, was an astute entrepreneur who also was very successful outside the casino business.

Kerkorian’s legacy in Las Vegas

Kirk Kerkorian was an influential businessman and investor who had a significant impact on the development of Las Vegas and the gaming industry. Born on June 6, 1917, in Fresno, California, Kerkorian started his career as a boxer and later ventured into aviation and film industries before becoming involved in the casino business.

In 1962, Kerkorian purchased 80 acres of land on the Las Vegas Strip and opened the International Hotel, which later became the Las Vegas Hilton and is now the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The International Hotel was the largest hotel in the world at the time and featured lavish amenities and top entertainment acts.

Kerkorian’s most notable contribution to Las Vegas was his involvement with MGM Resorts International (formerly MGM Grand Inc.). In the late 1960s, he acquired the Flamingo hotel-casino and merged it with his other property, the International Hotel, to form the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. This hotel, known for its grandeur and size, held the title of the world’s largest hotel until 1993.

Kerkorian’s vision and business acumen continued to shape Las Vegas. In 1993, he opened the MGM Grand (now Bally’s Las Vegas) on the site of the original MGM Grand Hotel, following a tragic fire that occurred in 1980. He also played a pivotal role in the development of The Mirage, which was built by his company, Mirage Resorts, in 1989.

Kerkorian’s legacy extends beyond Las Vegas. He was instrumental in the development of several other significant properties, including the Excalibur, the Luxor, and the Bellagio. His company, MGM Resorts International, grew to become one of the largest and most prominent casino and resort operators in the world.

Kirk Kerkorian passed away on June 15, 2015, at the age of 98. His contributions to the growth and transformation of Las Vegas, along with his influence on the gaming and hospitality industries, are widely recognized and appreciated.

Kirk Kerkorian and his impact on the Movie World

Kirk Kerkorian had a notable impact on the movie industry through his involvement with various film-related ventures. In addition to his ventures in the gaming and hospitality industries, Kerkorian was a savvy investor in the entertainment sector.

In the late 1960s, Kerkorian acquired a controlling interest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), a renowned film studio. Under his leadership, MGM expanded its operations and diversified its entertainment ventures. Kerkorian oversaw the acquisition of United Artists and established MGM/UA Entertainment Company, creating a powerhouse in the film industry.

During his tenure, MGM produced and distributed several successful films, including classics like “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Rocky,” and the James Bond franchise. Kerkorian’s strategic investments and business acumen helped revitalize MGM’s film library and contributed to the success of its motion picture division.

Kerkorian also played a role in the development of the movie theater industry. He founded and served as the chairman of National Amusements, a theater chain company that operated across the United States. Through National Amusements, Kerkorian aimed to enhance the moviegoing experience by introducing modern amenities and state-of-the-art technologies in theaters.

While Kerkorian eventually shifted his focus more towards the gaming and hospitality industries, his impact on the movie industry is significant. His investments and leadership in MGM, as well as his contributions to the theater chain business, demonstrate his influence and entrepreneurial spirit in the entertainment sector.

kirk kerkorian in front of the international hotel
Kirk Kerkorian posing in front of the International Hotel. (Hilton). Credit: Las Vegas News Bureau. 10/21/1968 Hotel develper Kirk Kerkorian standing in front of the International Hotel during construction. The International later became the Las Vegas Hilton.