Showgirl to share stories at Brandeis luncheon

Books, books and more books. Brandeis University National Committee is highly focused on books, so it’s only natural that its annual luncheon’s guest speaker be an author.

The Las Vegas chapter of Brandeis University National Committee plans to host its 15th annual Book and Author Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. March 11 at Spiedini Ristorante in the JW Marriott, 221 N. Rampart Blvd. The event will feature Betty Bunch, a former Las Vegas showgirl and author of "High Heels and Headdresses: Memoirs of a Vintage Vegas Showgirl," published by Stephens Press. Bunch is set to share highlights of her dance career, which included appearing at the Sahara, being in shows with Rat Pack members and appearing in movies such as "South Pacific."

"Welcoming a showgirl as our guest speaker is perfect," said chapter representative Denise Needleman, "particularly since such a significant number of our members have been residents of our valley since the heyday of the ’50s and ’60s … we can’t wait to hear all the juicy tidbits about our history."

Some of those tidbits are found in the book —- expectations that a showgirl wear at least a C-cup bra, partying after shows and charging a giddy shopping spree to her comped room bill.

Bunch danced on Dean Martin’s TV show and said he was "a terrific gentleman. But it was Sinatra who could kiss your hand and give you that look that made you want to drop to his feet."

Then there are the mentions on the passing of time. When she arrived in town, for example, Bunch said the Riviera was the only high-rise on the Strip. It was five stories.

Brandeis University has its own memories. It was founded to ensure that Jewish people could receive a college education. Brandeis graduated its first class in 1947.

The Brandeis University National Committee provides philanthropic support for the university through fundraisers and activities that echo the values on which the university was founded, such as service to the community.

In 2005, Brandeis University adopted the Science for Life initiative to support research into neuro-degenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The committee has pledged $2 million to help build a state-of-the art laboratory devoted to medical research and a medical journal library.

The Las Vegas chapter was founded in 1994 and received its charter a year and a half later. Since then, it has raised more than $250,000 for the campus library.

Its newest project is to raise $50,000 to provide a scholarship to a student attending Brandeis University. First preference goes to someone living in the Las Vegas, North Las Vegas or Henderson areas. Proceeds from the luncheon will go toward the scholarship fund.

The committee also will be presenting its Chapter Outstanding Service Award to Edith Einhorn for her many contributions.

Tickets for the luncheon are $65. For more information or to make a reservation, contact Needleman at or Arlene Zonder at

For more information about the Las Vegas chapter of Brandeis University National Committee, visit

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.

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