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July 28, 2014

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From governing halls to performers’ Hall

This year’s inductees include a former lieutenant governor

Image

Liberace Museum

Liberace (center, in top hat) with the Rockettes.

Hunt-Bono

Hunt-Bono

If You Go

  • What: Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame induction
  • When: 6:30 p.m. today
  • Where: Artemus Ham Hall, UNLV
  • Admission: Free and open to the public
  • Also: VIP reception; 8 tonight; $200; 895-2455

Hall of Fame

A politician will be among those inducted into UNLV’s Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame today.

Former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt-Bono, whose career began as a lounge entertainer, will share the spotlight at the seventh annual ceremony tonight with pianist Liberace, magicians Siegfried & Roy, architect William E. Snyder and philanthropist Bernice Fischer.

“Honorees have had an impact on the arts in Nevada,” says Jeffrey Koep, dean of UNLV’s College of Fine Arts and a founder of the Hall of Fame.

Hunt-Bono has distinguished herself in entertainment, business and politics.

“I first got to know her when she was lieutenant governor,” Koep says. “I was very impressed with the way she took the job very seriously, luring other industry into Las Vegas to balance what we have now.”

Hunt-Bono, 70, has lived in Vegas since 1943, when her parents moved here and opened a pizzeria on Fremont Street. Eventually they founded the Bootlegger Bistro.

“There was no university in Las Vegas then,” recalls Hunt-Bono, who is married to radio show host Dennis Bono. “I remember when (in 1957) they opened the Maude Frazier Building, which was the first building on the campus of Nevada Southern University (now UNLV). It was out in middle of desert, a little one story building.”

Hunt-Bono says that while growing up in Las Vegas she was exposed to some of the most talented musicians in the world.

She began studying music at age 9 and became a professional singer and pianist at age 18. As Lauri Perry (her family’s Italian Perri was changed on Ellis Island), she performed as a vocalist on the Las Vegas Strip and in Reno and Lake Tahoe. She appeared on national television programs such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Red Skelton Show.” In the late ’60s she was the voice of the Tropicana in radio and television ads.

Her group, the Lauri Perry IV, opened the Landmark Hotel in 1969, and she imploded the Landmark in 1995 when she was chairwoman of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Hunt made enough money entertaining to invest in land and is CEO and President of Perri Inc., a real estate, restaurant development and management company.

Her advocacy on behalf of small businesses led to her political career.

“I never lusted for political office. It just came to me,” says Hunt-Bono, a former county commissioner who spent eight years as lieutenant governor. Hunt-Bono was head of the Nevada Tourism Commission as lieutenant governor and still serves on the commission.

The following are the Inductees:

BERNICE FISCHER

As a young girl in rural Texas, Bernice Fische had no opportunities to hear live concert music, visit an art gallery or watch a dance troupe perform. "I wasn't introduced to the arts until I went to Texas Woman's University," she recalls. There, she developed a zeal for performing and visual arts. After graduating from college in 1941 she spent 32 years as an education specialist for Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. After retiring she traveled to South America where she met her future husband, Virlis Fischer, a Las Vegas resident. The two traveled extensively for 19 years until his passing in 1992. Since she arrived in Las Vegas, she has been a dedicated supporter of many arts programs and has received numerous awards for her philanthropy. She is a longtime supporter of the UNLV College of Fine Arts, and supports the ArtsBridge America program, a collaborative effort between universities and local school districts to incorporate arts into K-12 education. In honor of her support of the arts, the Judy Bayley Theatre Gallery was recently renamed the Virlis and Bernice Fischer Gallery.

Liberace

Liberace arrives at one of his shows at the Las Vegas Hilton, in an extravagant horse-drawn carriage. The singer's lavish costumes and stage props were funded by his $125,000 weekly salary. Launch slideshow »

LIBERACE

“Mr. Showmanship” was the quintessential Las Vegas performer with his dazzling shows and costumes. The internationally recognized pianist and entertainer died in February, 1987, a few months before his 68th birthday. Born in West Allis, Wis., in 1919, Walter Valentino Liberace made his professional debut at age 20 as soloist with the Chicago Symphony. In 1940, his nightclub dates took him to the Persian Room in New York's Plaza Hotel as an intermission pianist. Seven years later, he returned with his own oversized grand piano and his first trademark, a candle lit candelabra. Liberace dropped his first two names in 1950 and in 1955, he opened at the Riviera as the highest paid entertainer in the city's history. His final performances were at Radio City Music Hall. Liberace's legend lives on in the Liberace Museum that houses his collections of rare pianos, classic cars, famous sequined costume wardrobe, glittering stage jewelry, rare antiques and private papers. The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has been funding scholarships and grants for the arts since 1976.

Siegfried and Roy through the years

Seigfried & Roy Launch slideshow »

SIEGFRIED & ROY

The career of these Las Vegas icons was cut short in 2003 when a tiger mauled Roy during a performance at the Mirage. Roy Horn has spent seven years recovering from the catastrophe, but he and Siegfried have continued to maintain a high profile in the city they adopted in 1967. The pair met while working on a cruise ship in 1957 - Siegfried Fischbacher as a magician and Roy as a steward. Roy soon became Siegfried's assistant and suggested to Siegfried that they incorporate into the act Roy's pet cheetah. The act toured Germany, Switzerland and other European countries for five years and became a hit at the casino at Monte Carlo in the principality of Monaco. In 1967 they joined the cast of "Folies Bergere" at the Tropicana and in 1974 were in Donn Arden's "Hallelujah, Hollywood" at the old MGM Grand which today is Bally's. They moved in 1978 to the Stardust's "Lido de Paris" and in 1981 opened their own "Beyond Belief" show at the Frontier. Siegfried & Roy opened their $30 million showroom at the Mirage in February 1990, after then-Mirage owner Steve Wynn offered them a $57 million-plus contract for five years. In 2001 the Mirage's new owners, MGM MIRAGE, gave Siegfried & Roy a lifetime contract to perform at the resort.

WILLIAM E. SNYDER FAIA

William “Bill” Snyder, a native of Easton, Penn., moved to Las Vegas in 1978 with wife Joy and son Dana to pursue his architectural career. Shortly after their son, Michael, was born. Both of his sons have chosen careers in the art field, Dana as an actor and Michael as an artist. Soon after his arrival in Las Vegas, Snyder joined the architectural firm George G. Tate and Associates. In 1982, he was made a partner and the firm was renamed Tate & Snyder Architects. Bill became the sole principal in 1990 when George Tate retired. Under his leadership, Tate & Snyder Architects grew from an eight-person firm to 50 plus employees and one of the leading firms in the Southwest. Synder is the chairman of the Board of Tate Snyder Kimsey. In 2002, Bill was elevated to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. He is one of only four architects in the state of Nevada to receive this distinction. In 2001, the William E. Snyder Elementary School was named in his honor. An avid runner, Bill has run 32 marathons and spearheaded a running club at Snyder Elementary School. He also enjoys sketching, driving racecars, mentoring our youth, and spending time with his family.

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