Andy Williams was the first to headline the 1,200-seat Circus Maximus theater when it opened on Aug. 5, 1966, making national news. Since then, Caesars Palace has hosted the world’s most legendary performers — from Wayne Newton, Liberace, Judy Garland, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and Ike and Tina Turner, to Diana Ross, Cher, Elton John, Mariah Carey and, of course, Celine Dion.
The 60s and 70s saw such stars as Aretha Franklin, with Redd Fox as her opening act, and Woody Allen, who performed his last standup in 1970 before quitting to devote himself to films. Tom Jones recorded his iconic “Tom Jones Live at Caesars Palace” in 1971 and in 1974, Frank Sinatra performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Pat Henry.
In the 1980s, headliners included Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Patti LaBelle with opening act Arsenio Hall. The 90s featured Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, and Jay Leno and B.B. King.
Caesars Palace opened the Magical Empire in 1996, a lavish dining and entertainment experience that showcased magicians such as Michael Ammar and Jeff “Magnus” McBride.
In 2000, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé were the final performers in Circus Maximus, which was replaced by the 4,000-seat Colosseum, purpose-built to showcase singer Celine Dion. Detractors scoffed at the notion before its 2003 opening — but Caesars had the last laugh — Dion celebrated her 1,000th performance in October.
— Andrea Kahn, LA Times Custom Publishing