In partnership with Todd Fisher and the Debbie Reynolds Estate, The Neon Museum is debuting a new exhibition called “The Persona, The Person: Debbie Reynolds in Las Vegas,” honoring the Las Vegas legacy of the legendary entertainer. From her years performing at the Riviera, Desert Inn and South Point to owning the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, her impact on the city will be spotlighted during a limited run at City Hall’s Grand Gallery in downtown Las Vegas, September 5 through October 26, 2023.
The exhibition is a headlining experience in The Neon Museum’s second annual Duck Duck Shed, a citywide cultural, design and entertainment festival taking place October 4-7, celebrating the allure of Las Vegas’ past and present with behind-the-scenes tours, exclusive exhibitions and thought-provoking discussions.
“The Persona, The Person: Debbie Reynolds in Las Vegas” will feature Reynolds’ exquisite handmade gowns, costumes and personal effects from her and her family’s time living and performing in Las Vegas (1962-2014), including memorabilia depicting her friendship with Liberace to the red-beaded tuxedo she performed in at the Riviera after signing Las Vegas’ first ever million-dollar contract in 1962.
“As much as my mother’s rich Hollywood film legacy remains forever in people’s consciousness, her legacy as a headliner and citizen on the Las Vegas Strip is equally historic,” Todd Fisher, Debbie Reynolds’ son and curator of her new exhibit, said. “From the time she first stepped out on stage at the Riviera Hotel in 1962 to her final performance at the South Point Hotel & Casino on November 9, 2014, Debbie’s presence in the ‘neon city’ was forever emblazoned in its legendary history. My mother would always tell you performing live was her favorite work. Hence, the Las Vegas stage became home to her!”
The exhibition includes gowns, stage costumes, photos, rare videos and images, an exclusive clip from ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ and much more.
“We’re so honored Todd Fisher entrusted The Neon Museum to tell this incredible story,” Aaron Berger, executive director of The Neon Museum, said. “Debbie created lasting memories on stage for hundreds of thousands of visitors to Las Vegas while off stage she was breaking barriers for women and entertainers in Las Vegas and still keeping her family a priority. This exhibition explores Debbie as the famed entertainer and Debbie behind the curtain in Las Vegas. It offers tremendous insights into a remarkable woman.”
The exhibit is free for all ages to view in the Grand Gallery of City Hall. Exhibition hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibition will feature extended hours during Duck Duck Shed Friday and Saturday, October 6-7 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Duck Duck Shed festival
In addition to the Debbie Reynolds’ exhibit, Duck Duck Shed will dive into decades of Las Vegas’ storied architectural character through a multitude of individual events. The four-day series will feature nationally renowned lecturers, access to historic artifacts and one-of-a-kind experiences recognizing Las Vegas’ iconic entertainment culture, including:
- Cirque du Soleil’s “O” Celebrates 25 years in Las Vegas: Enjoy a behind-the-scenes, on-stage experience with Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O,’ which will celebrate 25 years in Las Vegas this fall. Get insights into the “O” production and theatrics, hear from the technical and artistic crew who amaze audiences nightly, and see rare technical demonstrations.
- First Look at Sphere’s Immersive New Show, “Postcard from Earth”: Be amongst the first to experience “Postcard from Earth,” the multi-sensory film created, produced and directed by Oscar-winner Darren Aronofsky at the brand-new Sphere on The Strip.
- Dinner with “Mouthpiece of the Mob” Oscar Goodman: It’s no secret former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was also a formidable mob defense attorney for some of the biggest names in organized crime including Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, Jimmy Chagra, Natale Richichi, Nicky Scarfo, Vinny Ferrara, and many others. Join Goodman for a three-course dinner, specialty cocktail and wine pairing prepared by award-winning Chef Ben Jenkins as he tells the story of encountering his first-ever mob client.
- Experience Vegas History Through Food & Cocktails: Join Restaurateur Kim Owens, Chef Patrick Munster and food historian Sarah Lohman for a cocktail-style event at Main St. Provisions comparing the luxurious cuisine and cocktails of iconic Las Vegas restaurants past with reinterpretations from today.
- Las Vegas’ Impact on Urban Design with Christopher Hawthorne: Partake in a discussion with famed architectural critic and former Chief Design Officer for Los Angeles, Christopher Hawthorne, who will share insights into the renowned book “Learning From Las Vegas” and discuss its relevance on urban design today.
- The Evolution of Light in Las Vegas Casinos with the City’s Iconic Architects & Designers: Learn how Las Vegas evolved from “no natural light, no clocks and no birds” in the 1960s to a destination punctuated with sun-washed conservatories and spectacular glass walls flooding resorts with daylight. Join Gillian Wynn, Roger Thomas and Todd-Avery Lenahan to discuss the evolution of light in Las Vegas design and how light affects the visitor’s experience.
- Evolving Entertainment – How Vegas Designs Experiences: Las Vegas has long been at the forefront of entertainment innovation with developers competing to push the limits of experience design from our famous fountains and the world’s largest signs to elaborate swimming pools and immersive theatrical productions. Join renowned scholar and author Stefan Al to see the most creative and innovative examples of Las Vegas’ experience designs and how architects, designers, engineers and marketers joined forces to redefine entertainment boundaries.
- Lore of Downtown Vegas Walking Tour: Accompany local historian Richard Hooker on a walking tour of Fremont Street exploring casinos, neon signs, obscure objects and curious artifacts that have contributed to the past 100-plus years of Las Vegas’ history.
- Las Vegas Meets Hollywood: Take part in the debut of a new guided tour at The Neon Museum that features Las Vegas in popular films including “Casino,” “Queen of Diamonds,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Back to the Future II” and many more.
- Explore Vegas’ Design Heritage with an Architect’s Tour of the Neon Boneyard: Led by Jaclyn Roth of Assemblage Studios, this walking tour will guide visitors through the Neon Boneyard, providing architecturally specific insights into the properties of yesterday and today, and the architects and designers who created them.
Duck Duck Shed is organized by The Neon Museum and presented by the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial. All programming is offered on an a la carte basis so attendees can attend the programs of their choice and that best meet their schedules.architecture