Author Archives: lasvegashistorymuseum

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


Oran Gragson, Las Vegas’ longest-serving mayor, votes himself in for another term

oran gragson

Oran Gragson road the rails from Oklahoma during the depression to work on the dam. His wife Bonnie, also pictured, had no interest in Las Vegas, but Gragson coaxed her to stay. He built up a furniture store on Main St. from 1939 to 1959, but when the police force began robbing the store using a duplicate key, he made a run for mayor. He served from 1960 to 1976, the longest term ever for a Las Vegas mayor, and ushered in great civil rights reforms for the town, and presided over Las Vegas when casinos began to be owned by corporations and the mob influenced waned. Photo courtesy of Bo Boisvert.