Prima and Smith worked hard throughout the 1950s, performing multiple shows a night, finishing at 6 a.m. Their efforts were rewarded with a resurgence in their popularity, and they were at least partly responsible for making the lounge at The Sahara a hotspot. On stage, Prima insisted that Smith would adopt a humorless, poker-faced character that would play straight to Prima's zany ad libs. Smith actually had a fine sense of comedy that is often audible on the team's recordings; no matter how much the incorrigible Prima tried to disrupt her vocals, Smith would often come back with a funny remark of her own.
Louis Prima and Keely Smith were very much the model for Sonny & Cher: the exuberant Italian musician and the serious, exotic female singer, Smith and Cher both being of Cherokee descent (although Cher's heritage is primarily Armenian). Similarly, echoes of the stage banter between Prima and Butera would be heard years later in the early performances of the E Street Band and the interplay between Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons.
In 1959, Prima and Smith won the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Old Black Magic."
In 1956 the Prima ensemble performed at the Sahara Hotel and Casino to record tracks for the album The Wildest!. It was an attempt by Capitol Records to capture the essence of the Vegas act. Over the next nine years, Prima and Smith raised two children, while he made scores of records, owned racehorses, appeared on television, and even opened a golf course. They outgrew the lounge and were promoted to the big room. They appeared in a few quickie musical films, including Senior Prom and Hey Boy! Hey Girl! Prima co-produced the feature Twist All Night, in which his band also appeared,
During this whirlwind of activity, according to Smith, the couple drifted farther and farther apart. One night, he refused to conduct for one of Smith's performances, delegating to Butera instead. A few days later they were in court, petitioning for divorce.