Milton Prell

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Milton Prell
Milton Prell.jpg
Born (1905-09-06)September 6, 1905
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died June 2, 1974(1974-06-02) (aged 68)
Occupation hotel owner, developer
Spouse(s) Devorah Zion (1945-1974, his death)
Children Sheila Prell (Sonenshine)

Milton Prell (September 6, 1905 – June 2, 1974) was a hotel owner and developer most notable for his projects in Las Vegas, Nevada.[1][2] Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, as a young man he moved to Los Angeles, California. He was good friends with Colonel Tom Parker, best known as the manager of Elvis Presley. Elvis married Priscilla in Prell's apartment at the Aladdin Hotel in a private wedding shielded from the media. Prell was married to Devorah Zion on July 9, 1945; they had one child, Sheila Prell (Sonenshine).

Prell started in the gambling business with a "bingo palace" in California. Prell ordered that the prizes were to be given out honestly to the players and word got out that the place was to be trusted. The bingo palace thrived.

Milton Prell's first project in Las Vegas was Club Bingo on the Las Vegas Strip. This club was opened in 1947 before many of the major hotels and casinos had opened on the strip, when Fremont Street was the main attraction and casino center. In 1952 the Club Bingo closed and the building was remodeled. Club Bingo opened on July 24, 1947 with 240 rooms on the Los Angeles Highway across from the El Rancho Vegas. In addition to other casino games, it featured a 300 seat bingo parlor. Milton Prell took over in 1952, remodeled the club and opened in October of that year as the Sahara. Called "The Jewel in the Desert" by Prell, the Sahara had a Moroccan theme with statues of camels standing in front of the hotel.

Prell sold the Sahara to Del Webb in 1961 who owned it for the next 21 years. During that time Webb added the tower increasing the hotel to nearly 1,000 rooms.

In 1952 the Sahara Hotel and Casino first opened its doors to the general public. Its original low-rise design came from Max Maltzmann and owner Milton Prell; at a cost $5.5 million to construct. In 1959 Martin Stern, Jr. was called in to design and construct towers for the Sahara adding 14 stories and 200 rooms to the original structure. In 1960 he added another for another 200 rooms. In 1967 he designed a Convention Center Addition for $3 million. 1977 brought about a high-rise addition costing $16 million and once again designed by Stern. In 1979 Stern was back at work designing room additions for an additional $30 million and creating 625 new rooms for the hotel. As of 1988 ownership shifted to Paul & Sue Lowden, and it was sold once again to William Bennett for $193 million in 1995. Bennett would then renovate the hotel and add the new Speed world based on NASCAR racing. He would hire Bergman Walls, Ltd. for the job and pay $100 million to have his vision become reality. When completed, the Sahara Hotel and Casino stood at 26 stories high and boasts 1,802 rooms.

The "place" opened as the Sahara Hotel and Casino. Prell added the famous Congo Room as well as 120 hotel rooms. As soon as it opened the Sahara was a success and continues that success until it closed on May 16, 2011. In 1965, Prell bought the King's Crown for $16 million on the Las Vegas Strip. The place had been failing and Prell remodeled it and renamed it the Aladdin Hotel and Casino with an Arabian Nights theme, it opened in 1966. Prell had added restaurants, a lounge, a 500 seat showroom and a golf course.[3]

At the same time, Prell's brother-in-law sold his mattress business so Prell could purchase the The Mint Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street. Prell promised his brother-in-law a job and made him the manager.

Some time later, Milton Prell suffered a stroke. Prell needed to use a wheelchair much of the time, but continued to walk with two canes through the casino to his office each morning. The Aladdin's profits were dropping and eventually he couldn't keep up and the Aladdin was sold. He died in 1974.