Caesars Palace day one employee looks back on 50 years
Stories. Jim Dunbar has 50 years’ worth of stories. And, they all happened at Caesars Palace where Dunbar has been a valet since the resort opened on Aug. 5, 1966.
Dunbar moved here from L.A. in 1942. “I lived in the first housing development in Vegas,” he said. When he was 14, he went with his dad to the Strip to see Spike Jones and the City Slickers and, “When I came out of the show I saw these guys parking all these cars and thought, ‘That looks fun and they’re making money.’ That’s what I want to do,’” Dunbar said.
His first valet job was at the New Frontier. A few years later he was valet parking at Flamingo. “While I was working at Flamingo I was watching them build Caesars Palace; I knew that’s where I wanted to be next,” he said. He was hired the day before the property opened, and has worked in the valet area ever since.
“I really like to work,” said Dunbar, who doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. “I got two new knees last year and I’m out there back in the game.” And what a game it’s been—filled with exciting memories, Dunbar said.
Like the one time he saw Frank Sinatra and his pals in the bathroom—they were laughing hysterically while washing whipped cream from their hair after a food fight. Dunbar’s parked cars for Jayne Mansfield, Joe DiMaggio, Ellen DeGeneres, Mickey Rooney, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr.—the list goes on. His stories go on.
“I was offered to work other places, and I never wanted to leave,” Dunbar said. “I’m just impressed with Caesars. It started out small and all along the way it got better.” Dunbar has even etched his name in bricks and steel beams used to build the new towers. “It’s been exciting. Fifty years, it’s been exciting.”
The same year Caesars Palace opened, Jimi Hendrix sat down in his dressing room in London and penned his legendary song, “Purple Haze.” In honor of that song, and Caesars’ 50-year anniversary this month, the property created the Purple Haze, available at Lobby Bar, Montecristo Cigar Bar and Apostrophe Bar. It mixes together Absolut vodka, Chambord, lime juice and simple syrup.