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Rags-to-riches: The life of billionaire Vegas kingpin Kirk Kerkorian




Marquees on the Las Vegas Strip, including at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino (R), show video tributes to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian on June 16, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Marquees on the Las Vegas Strip, including at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino (R), show video tributes to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian on June 16, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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By the time of his death in 2015, Kirk Kerkorian owned almost every major hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

But his life started at the bottom in what is still a largely unknown story to the world. An immigrant family, an eighth grade education, an amateur boxing career — Kerkorian knew what it meant to be penniless. Still, he had knack for making sharp and daring deals, and took every risk that eventually led him to become one of America’s most wealthiest self-made billionaires, friends with the likes of Howard Hughes, Ted Turner, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and more.

Kerkorian’s life is now meticulously detailed for the first time by veteran investigative reporter and storyteller William C. Rempel in his new book, “The Gambler.”

Larry speaks with Rempel about his collection of sources that includes war records, court documents, business records and interviews with those closest to the business tycoon, including Kerkorian’s widow Una Davis.

William Rempel will be discussing his new book, “The Gambler,” tomorrow, January 25, at the Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena. The event starts at 7pm.   

Guest:

William C. Rempel, veteran investigative reporter and a former editor at the Los Angeles Times; his latest book is “The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History” (HarperCollins, 2018)