Monthly Archives: March 2014

Grant Sawyer goes to Washington #VegasHistory

After helping President Kennedy get elected in 1960, Governor Grant Sawyer was taken aback when he learned from Nevada Attorney General Roger Foley that US Attorney General Bobby Kennedy/FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover planned to conduct raids on Vegas casinos looking for Mob connections. Sawyer also wanted to rid the state of Mob influence, but didn’t want to break the law with such a lacking-of-probably-cause dragnet. After serving two terms, Sawyer went on to be a founding partner with Las Vegas law firm Lionel Sawyer Collins.

When Cary James was evicted #Liberace

Sending a postcard of your home is unusual, but Cary James, Liberace’s last lover, sent this post card to Anna Nateece, as he was being evicted from Liberace’s Palm Spring’s home. Cary most likely contracted HIV from Liberace, and Liberace wanted to support Cary after Liberace died in 1987. According to Anna, The Liberace Foundation’s trustee was changed just prior to Liberace’s death, and didn’t honor Liberace’s wishes to take care of Cary long term. Anna stayed very close to Terry until his death in 1996. Courtesy of Anna Nateece.

The Ant and the Future Mayor of Las Vegas

Anthony Spilotro, nicknamed The Ant, was an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit here in Las Vegas during the 70s and 80s. He and his crew were responsible for monitoring ‘the skim’ for the Outfit and other Midwestern Mob investors. In 1976, Spilotro and his brother formed “The Hole in the Wall Gang”, which was named so because they would drill holes in the walls and ceilings of the places they robbed to gain access. This and other nefarious activity ran him afoul with both the law, and more importantly, with top Mob management, which resulted in his death in January 1986. Here he is seen with his attorney, Oscar Goodman, who would go on to become Mayor of Las Vegas in 1999. Courtesy of UNLV Special Collections/North Las Vegas Library

Bernard of Hollywood goes sledding with two blond twins

Bruno Bernard (aka Bernard of Hollywood) shoots twins on a sled on Mt. Charleston. Bernard had a doctorate in philosophy from Keil University in Berlin, but fled there in 1937 since his name as on a Nazi hit list for being the secretary of a Jewish youth organization. Once stateside, his skills in photography increased after he worked with pinup artist Alberto Vargas. Bernard adopted the same artistic techniques, only to photos. He fought obscenity charges for his work which often bordered in soft pornography. He had a local office here in Las Vegas and took thousands of celebrity shots here over the years. Courtesy of Frank Valeri