Forty years ago, the women of Las Vegas were captured by a hot new name on the Strip. Well, almost new. In one of the more bizarre coincidences of Las Vegas show business history, the Desert Inn lounge already hosted a topless spoof of the "Tom Jones" movie with Albert Finney that still was popular in 1968. "The movie was so big that (people) thought I was going to act in a play," the Tom Jones more familiar to Las Vegas once recalled. And Flamingo Las Vegas executives hedged their bet for his March 21 debut by co-billing the Welsh singer with "America's Favorite Mother-in-Law," Kaye Ballard.
But that was before his TV show hit big in the United States. "They thought I was a pop singer, trying to be a nightclub entertainer," Jones noted.
He has done a pretty good job of both along the way. If Jones opens an MGM Grand stint as scheduled today, it will mark 40 consecutive years on the Strip, to the best recollection of local experts who run an unofficial fan Web site, Tom Jones International.
Don't be surprised to see the occasion marked at today's show, though the Web site managers wanted to retain the element of surprise in terms of specifics.
Over the years, the 67-year-old Jones recorded two live albums on the Strip, inspired Elvis Presley to reinvent himself as a showroom act and defended the city from flying saucers in "Mars Attacks!" MIKE WEATHERFORD: Tom Jones to mark milestone