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Welcome to Fabulous LAS VEGAS Nevada

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 12th January 2005 9:37pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


THROUGHOUT Las Vegas's evanescent history many have been able lay claim to fabulousness. Elvis was fabulous. Liberace was fabulous. Frankie, Dino and Sammy Davis Jr. . . . of course fabulous.

But the birth mother of fabulous, the creator of the seminal shrine to fabulousness, is an unsung 81-year-old headliner named Betty Willis, whose 1959 "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada" sign a luminous diamond stretched like Silly Putty, each letter of "Welcome" encircled by silver dollars brought twinkling destiny to Las Vegas: love at first sight in neon.

"We thought the town was fabulous, so we added the word," Mrs. Willis recalled recently, sitting in a blue velveteen rocker in her living room, a Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas bull figurine on the fireplace mantel. "Everything you could flash or spin, we did it."

In a city that has honored its history by blowing it up (may the Dunes, the Sands and the Aladdin rest in peace) Mrs. Willis's beacon to motorists beside the old highway from Los Angeles has defied the odds. A Las Vegas native, she fell in love with neon on girlhood trips to California, peering out of the family Studebaker at the theater marquees of downtown Los Angeles. What is now the Las Vegas Strip was then an empty highway into nothingness crisscrossed by dirt roads.

[ This great article from the New York Times requires registration to read. You should read the New York Times anyway... its the record of the world. Here's a password: Username: twest2 Password: 9411459 - Ed ]



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