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Legendary Vegas casino demolished 14/03/2007
Ed Pilkington in New York Wednesday March 14, 2007

The end of the Stardust was marked by as much razzmatazz as its beginning. The 32-storey tower, the last remaining bit of this Las Vegas legend, was lit up with fireworks and laser beams before it came crashing down at 2.33am yesterday.

Hundreds of people turned out to watch the Las Vegas landmark being reduced to 28,000 tonnes of rubble. "As corny as this may sound," said Bob Dylan's drummer Mickey Jones who was a regular to the casino over its 48 years, "it's breaking my heart".

Jones was there, aged 17, when the casino opened over the weekend of July 4 in 1958. Its 1,032 rooms made it at the time one of the largest hotels in the world, along with its other claim to fame: the famous Stardust neon sign standing 18 storeys tall and including more than 11,000 bulbs.

The Stardust catered specifically for working class Americans, with room rates starting at just $6 (£3) a night.

But the scale of its gambling ambitions attracted some of the biggest celebrities of the period. Elvis Presley was a frequenter, as was Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Muhammad Ali, then still trading as Cassius Clay, trained for a heavyweight fight there in 1962.

The resort ran efficiently - a product of its mob ownership through the sixties and seventies. The owners were fined $3m in 1984 by the Nevada Gaming Commission and the empire was sold two years later to its current owners, Boyd Gaming. The company plans to build a $4bn replacement called the Echelon Place resort to open in 2010.