Lights, Action, Neon! Signs that once lit Las Vegas find a new role in the movies.
Can’t come to The Neon Museum right now? While you are waiting to visit us in person, you can still take a cinematic tour of Las Vegas signage. Our signs were stars before the Museum ever existed. Hollywood was using the former Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) storage lot, aka the “Boneyard,” as a film location back in the 1970s. After YESCO closed the lot, many of the signs made their way to The Neon Museum Boneyard and the filmmakers followed. Let's look back at some of our favorite sign scenes from the YESCO era.
“Corvette Summer” (1978)
Here’s someone I bet you never thought you’d see in the — Luke Skywalker! Mark Hamill and Annie Potts star in this “fiberglass romance” about a stolen Corvette that winds up in Las Vegas. The movie poster reminds viewers that Hamill is the guy “who you loved in ‘Star Wars,’ which had been released less than a year earlier. Hamill chases his poached coach through downtown, jumping a fence and curiously landing several miles away at YESCO (who needs Uber when you have the Force?). Hamill climbs a sign, only to see his Corvette driving away in the distance.
“Cherry 2000” (1987)
In dystopian 2017, Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) and tracker Edith “E” Johnson (Melanie Griffith) search for a Cherry 2000 model robot to replace Treadwell’s short-circuited animatronic wife. Their hunt takes them to the robot graveyard, which turns out to be post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot the 1966 genie’s lamp from the Aladdin. And while they are not part of The Neon Museum’s collection, the super-sized showgirl statues do look familiar.
“Beyond Desire” (1995)
Working girl Rita (Kari Wuhrer) and ex-con Ray Paterson (William Forsythe) visit YESCO, shoot some bad guys and cruise back and forth between the Strip and downtown. It’s the perfect Las Vegas date night! Signs from the Hacienda, Golden Nugget, Silver Slipper, Aladdin and Denny’s can be seen in the Boneyard. Mobster “Rocco” is played by Fred Doumani Jr., whose family donated the La Concha Motel lobby to The Neon Museum, where it now serves as the Visitors’ Center.
“Mars Attacks!” (1996)
For fans of Las Vegas signage, the highlight of director Tim Burton’s star-studded science fiction spoof might be the Boneyard shootout. A gun twirling Martian vaporizes an obnoxious attorney (Danny DeVito), only to be zapped seconds later by sweet-natured Barbara Land (Annette Benning). Barbara is accompanied by Las Vegas headliner Tom Jones (as himself) and boxer turned hotel greeter Byron Jones (Jim Brown). Also appearing are signs from Anderson Dairy, Fox Theater, Caesars, Circus Circus, Desert Rose Motel, Golden Nugget, House of Lords restaurant at the Sahara, Lady Luck, Jerry’s Nugget and Silver Slipper. If you don’t blink, you might also catch the Hacienda horse and rider and the Pool Player from Doc & Eddy’s bar.
“Vegas Vacation” (1997)
The Griswold family travels to Las Vegas, where Cousin Vicki (Shae D’Lyn) introduces Audrey Griswold (Marisol Nichols) to “The Beatles” and the Boneyard. Watching Vicki whirl away on the Lady Luck inspires Audrey to start her own vacation atop the Hacienda horse and rider.
“Fools Rush In” (1997)
“There are signs everywhere to help you find your way,” a priest tells Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry). But for Alex, all the signs are in Las Vegas, where he returns to patch things up with his pregnant wife Isabel (Salma Hayek). His friend Jeff (Jon Tenney) tries to talk him out of it during a walk through the Boneyard. You might catch signs from Binion’s Horseshoe, Silver Slipper, Caesars, Lady Luck and Aladdin in the scene.
"There are signs everywhere to help you find your way."