As a young and ambitious woman, Betty Bunch moved to Las Vegas from Texas in 1956 and began a fabulous career as a dancer. She had always been passionate about dancing, and came ready to entertain with a background in performing arts, having studied theatre in college.
Throughout her career in Las Vegas, Bunch performed on the strip, and was a Moro-Landis dancer in the Donald O’Connor Show at the Sahara. After fourteen successful years in the industry, she was cast as the principal dancer in the original cast of “Bottoms Up” which, at that time, starred Nancy Austin. The show ran at the Caesars Palace.
Betty was still performing in “Bottoms Up” while pregnant with her oldest son C.A. “Rick” Rosenthal, and she’d do two shows a day. She also performed while pregnant with her second son Dan. She was playing the Queen in the production of “Once Upon a Mattress” at the Desert Inn at the time.
The renowned dancer retired after her second son was born in 1970. After retiring, she turned her focus to philanthropy and spending time with her family.
She enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom; while her husband Joel Rosenthal worked as a realtor, and was eventually appointed to the post of Public Administrator. Although life in the neighborhood of Stonehaven was generally pleasant and serene- when living in Las Vegas, the “calm” is never long lived.
The fact that her husband shared the same last name with a notorious gangster (Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal), lead to the children being taunted at school from time to time, as well as many awkward scenarios for the adults.
Another not so quiet, yet truly exciting, aspect to the neighborhood was the family’s close proximity to Siegfried and Roy’s residence. They could hear the tigers roar every morning and evening while they were fed, or being loaded into the trucks before their shows.
Betty was also president of the Twin Lakes PTA- and eventually earned a state life PTA pin as a result of lobbying in Carson City on behalf of the association. Bunch also worked on several political campaigns, including Richard Bryan’s.
In addition to all of her hard work in the realms of politics and education, she also served on the March of Dimes.
Being just 18 hours short of a degree in theatre, Bunch ultimately decided to go back to school and finish her BA in American Studies instead. She attended UNLV, and later became a part of UNLV’s Living History program. She is considered one of the women who made Las Vegas what it is today.
Betty remained a stay-at-home mom for ten years, before returning to work with the National Elderhostel Association. She can be contacted here: BettyBunch100@gmail.com
Betty Bunch helped shape and improve Las Vegas in a myriad of ways. Through her dancing, charity, leadership, and strong focus on family- she is what’s truly great about our city and its heritage.
(Note: I will being doing bi-weekly features on inspiring local women, past and current, who are doing/have done big things. This article is a part of the feature. Please click the “Subscribe” button for updates on articles that impact you as a Las Vegas woman. Thank you for reading!)