Westgate Resorts CEO, David Siegel, recently announced that an Elvis Presley themed exhibit, show and chapel would be added this April to the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. Unknown to most people, Siegel has a special connection to Elvis and the former Las Vegas Hilton bringing full circle a return of the King to the hotel he helped make famous.
Back in 1970, Siegel was newly married to his second wife, Bettie Irene Tucker, who just happened to be the goddaughter of Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager. Parker and Bettie’s father, Hoxie Tucker, were old friends going way back to the carnival days of Parker’s career. In the 1930s, Parker worked with Tucker in the traveling circus business in the South.
Both men were also involved in booking tour dates for Grand Ole Opry stars like Eddy Arnold and Minnie Pearl. When Colonel Parker took interest in a young new artist making the country circuit named Elvis Presley, he offered his good friend, Hoxie Tucker, a chance to be a co-manager but Tucker turned him down.
While Colonel Parker focused his efforts on managing Elvis exclusively, Hoxie Tucker created the Hoxie Bros. Circus which he ran for 40 years. The two remained friends which resulted in Parker becoming the godfather of Tucker’s daughter, Bettie.
Having a godfather who managed Elvis Presley had its perks. Bettie and her husband, David Siegel, along with Bettie’s parents were frequently invited as guests of Colonel Parker’s to the International Hotel and then Las Vegas Hilton to watch Elvis perform from some of the best seats in the house.
They were seated so close to the stage that Siegel says he was “afraid Elvis would sweat on him.” Siegel also describes the rush of women to the stage to get a scarf from Presley as “a stampede.” Although Siegel saw Elvis perform 15 times at the Hilton, he never met him.
Born the same year as Elvis Presley in 1935, the 79-year-old Siegel said at a press conference in February that he has the “energy of a 50-year-old.” A native of Chicago who now resides in Florida, Siegel has amassed a fortune with his timeshare resorts company. Although the company hit hard times during the financial crisis in recent years, Siegel was able to emerge successfully and in 2014 purchased the former Las Vegas Hilton.
Known for his love of extravagance as seen in the documentary The Queen of Versailles which was a behind the scenes look at Siegel’s home life with his third wife, Jackie, and their children in their mansion in Florida, Siegel says that “everyone will be treated like a high roller” at the Westgate Las Vegas. Siegel has plans for a major upgrade of the hotel.
At 62 acres, the Westgate is the largest casino property in Las Vegas. Siegel plans to invest “hundreds of millions” in the hotel and the surrounding property for renovations. He is converting only a small portion of rooms to timeshares, keeping the hotel running as usual.
Over the years, Siegel stayed in touch with Colonel Parker and would return to visit him at the Hilton where the Colonel was living on the third floor. Elvis Presley had an unprecedented run at the Hilton playing 837 sold-out shows over a 7-year period. No doubt Colonel Parker would be happy to hear that Siegel succeeded in bringing Elvis back in the building.