KIRK KERKORIAN combined the daring of a pioneer aviator, the fortitude of a scrappy boxer and the cunning of an inscrutable poker player with a maestro’s sense of timing in the cutthroat world of business wheeling and dealing to become one of the most successful self-made tycoons in American history. Yet, the press-shy billionaire’s inspiring personal story is largely unknown.
His Armenian immigrant parents arrived in Los Angeles broke and struggled to avoid evictions. Kirk quit school in the eighth grade, cleared brush in the Sierra-Nevada mountains, worked as a day laborer at MGM Studios and tried to launch a professional boxing career.
His biography is one of those Only in America tales of an immigrant dreamer.
He ended up owning the film studio where he once worked for a couple of dollars a day. He transformed the leisure business and the face of Las Vegas. Three times he built the world’s biggest resort hotel. He became one of the world’s richest men. Yet, he never put his name on any buildings. He rarely granted interviews. And he gave away billions without fanfare to charities and humanitarian causes.