Bobby Vannucci, when we were young


Last Saturday I officiated at the funeral of Bobby Vannucci. We were friends as 20-somethings in Las Vegas in the 1970s. I remember him as a guy with that quintessential New Yawrk "Flatbush" '50s look. He worked at the Dunes and I remember thinking that he could not have fit the bill any better for a Vegas casino guy had he been ordered from central casting out of Hollywood.

At any rate, over the years Bob moved up in the hotel/casino business. He developed a good feel for the business and eventually he became the top guy at the Riviera. As life would sometimes have it, however, he caught a bad break when he was diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic with an incurable brain disease. He died young by my ever-expanding standard of what is young. There is, of course, a lot more to say about Bobby the husband and father and man. He was much more than a casino exec who looked the part of a bygone era.

That was confirmed by the turnout at his funeral, which included a contingent of old-time Vegas casino folks. It should have been filmed. Some of the stories people told about being young at the Dunes and goofing off by playing pranks that almost were discovered by the boss, Morris Shenker, were priceless.

Growing up in the business with one foot in the Rat Pack era and the other in publicly traded casinos must have been something.

Make for a good movie, if you ask me.