Posted on: September 1, 2022, 11:56h.
Last updated on: September 1, 2022, 08:17h.
The last remaining original Caesars Palace employee retired on Wednesday. Blackjack dealer Benny Figgins, 78, started as a porter a month before the casino’s Aug. 5, 1966 opening. (He took a break from the casino in November 1966 before being rehired on April 27, 1967.)
After his final shift this week, Figgins was presented with a commemorative plaque and a string of crystals from the chandelier that hung in the original casino dome. The dome recently underwent an upgrade that included a new chandelier. Figgins then left work for the last time with a limo ride to his home.
According to an interview with Anthony Bourdain’s Explore Parts Unknown website in 2017, Figgins said he was 21 years old when he came off his graveyard shift at the Thunderbird Hotel one night to check out the Caesars Palace construction site. After writing his name on a job sign-up sheet posted on a trailer near the worksite, Figgins said he was hired almost immediately to vacuum floors and clean tables in preparation for the grand opening two months later.
“It was like paradise,” Figgins said of the celebration. “Everyone was here. And Caesars stayed like that for at least five years. You couldn’t get in here! You couldn’t get a reservation. It was packed every night.”
Many Jobs, Many Celebrities
After working as a porter, Figgins worked as a dishwasher at the original Bacchanal restaurant and a busboy in the Circus Maximus showroom. He settled into his final job — dealing blackjack under the original Palace Casino dome — in 1971.
According to Caesars, some of Figgins’ most memorable moments at work included meeting and dealing with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, and Harry Belafonte, all of whom were Caesars’ headliners.
“They were all down to earth,” Figgins said.
Figgins also befriended Joe Louis, who worked as the casino’s host-in-residence following his boxing career.
Another important person Figgins met while working at the property was his wife, Shirley. According to the company, she retired after working for 38 years for Caesars Palace as a PBX operator and table games dealer.