The Neon Museum Oral History Project
Kent Carmichael | Sign Man
If there is a person in the Las Vegas sign industry who has seen and done it all, it is Kent Carmichael.
In the late 1950s, Kent went to work for YESCO. Kent and designer Ray Larsen, Sr. fabricated an enormous fiberglass Scottish hat for the Tam O’Shanter Motel. Today the sign is preserved at The Neon Museum.
In 1959, Kent became an electrician for Western Neon, where met designer Betty Willis and worked on the crew that installed her Welcome to Fabulous Vegas sign.
In the early 1960s, Kent took a job as an electrician for the Fremont Hotel. Kent was working from a catwalk above the showroom stage when an electrical shock sent him crashing down into the middle of teenage Wayne Newton’s act.
From 1968 to 1975, Kent was a service man and manager for AD-ART, A California sign company then shaking up the scene in Las Vegas. Kent installed the Caesars sign, climbed the Frontier pylon with a young baccarat dealer named Steve Wynn, secured the wobbly stars atop the Stardust sign, and put Elvis’ name in lights for his debut appearance at the International Hotel.
In 1975, Kent joined Heath and Co., where he befriended designer Raul Rodriguez and helped make his fanciful Flamingo sign a reality.
After leaving Heath in 1985, Kent worked for a variety of companies before retiring. In 1992, he reunited with his Burbank High School prom date, actress Debbie Reynolds, who hired Kent as an electrical engineer for her new hotel