Showgirls and show-goers wept as the final curtain closed on a 32 1/2-year fixture on the Las Vegas Strip, with 400 former showgirls sharing in a poignant farewell for the "Lido de Paris."
The show, imported from Paris in 1958, has drawn 19 million people for 22,000 performances here. Artistic differences and costs have prompted the Stardust Hotel, the "Lido's" home, to opt for a new musical production, scheduled to open in July.
Current dancers and those of another era began to weep Thursday night as the band played "Thanks for the Memories" following the show's finale.
Some showgirls wiped away tears streaking heavy stage makeup and others blew kisses or flashed a thumbs-up sign to former showgirls in the the audience who had been in their place two or three decades ago.
"I suppose change is good, but I love this show and I'm really going to miss it," said showgirl Michelle Lensky. "It's really sad."
Among those watching the final bows were illusionists Siegfried & Roy, who were featured attractions of the production in the early 1970s, working for $1,800 a week. Today they headline in their own show at the Mirage Hotel, two blocks away, and are in their second year of a five-year, $57.5-million pact.
During the final performance, former "Lido" showgirls throughout the audience applauded and cheered various dance segments which have been a part of the show since it opened July 2, 1958, the same day the resort opened its doors. Among the opening night crowd were Bob Hope, Harold Lloyd and the McGuire Sisters.
The show was an offshoot of the original "Lido" in Paris, which opened in 1928. The first cast was flown directly from Paris and consisted entirely of foreign performers. Over the years, Americans have taken over the roles.
The closing of the show left 61 showgirls, dancers and other performers out of work. Most hoped to catch on with other shows here.
Bobby Berosini and his orangutans, the Lido headliner in recent years, will be retained by the Stardust in a public relations capacity until the new show opens, according to hotel spokesman Jim Seagrave.
He will headline the new show, Seagrave said.