Wilbur Clark

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Wilbur Clark
Ed Sullivan Red Skelton Wilbur Clark Desert Inn Las Vegas 1959.JPG
Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton and Wilbur Clark on the Desert Inn hotel's golf course, 1959
BornDecember 27, 1908
DiedAugust 27, 1965(1965-08-27) (aged 56)
Spouse(s)Toni Clark
Parent(s)Shirley Clark
Lulu Clark

Wilbur Clark (December 27, 1908 - August 27, 1965) was an American casino owner and land developer from Las Vegas, Nevada.


Early life[edit]

Wilbur Clark was born on December 27, 1908, in Keyesport, Illinois.[1][2] His parents were Shirley and Lulu Clark.[1]


He moved to San Diego, California at the age of nineteen, where he worked in a hotel.[2] He also working on gambling ships, where gambling could take place in international waters.[2]

He purchased El Rancho Vegas in 1944.[1] A year later, in 1945, he purchased Monte Carlo Club.[1] In 1946, he sold El Rancho Vegas.[1] With that money, he built the Desert Inn casino in 1947.[1] However, he quickly sold most of his interest to businessman Moe Dalitz, owning only 17.5%.[1] Another business partner was Hank Greenspun, the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.[3] He remained the public face of the Desert Inn.[1] In the 1950s, he organized the Tournament of Champions, an annual golf tournament at the Desert Inn Golf Course shown on televised by NBC.[1] He sold his share in 1964.[2]

Later, he developed Wilbur Clark’s Paradise Gardens, located at 4505 South Maryland Parkway, south of the Thomas & Mack Center.[2] He also donated the land on which Guardian Angel Cathedral was built.

Personal life[edit]

He married Toni Clark, born Lena Gaglionese, in 1944.[1][3] She became a philanthropist and fashion icon, supporting the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra and Nevada Ballet Theatre and being named on the 10 Best Dressed Women in America list by the Fashion Foundation of America in 1958.[3] She died in 2006.[3]


He died of a heart attack on August 27, 1965.[3]


The Wilbur Clark D.I. Road in Las Vegas, Nevada, is named in his honor.[2][3] It was previously known as the Desert Inn Road.[2]