Las Vegas Media Group ends, but history mission remains

The Las Vegas “Old Timers” Media Group, featuring many current and former print, radio and TV journalists, has shut down after 18 years.

Toward the end, the club had an email list of nearly 200 locals, some of whom met monthly to discuss Las Vegas history and swap stories. The club, co-founded in 1999 by former Las Vegas Review-Journal photographer Frank Mitrani and former Las Vegas Sun photographer Ken Jones, began meeting out of Jones’ house after the friends met at another friend’s funeral.

“We were standing outside, a group of us,” Mitrani, 86, said. “We hadn’t seen each other, some of us, for years. We were just standing out there talking like old friends do.”

The group of former colleagues and friends ended up at Jones’ house that day and reflected on “the good old days.” Mitrani began creating a list of former colleagues and friends in the media business with whom he had lost touch.

What evolved was an ever-rotating cast and crew of media, entertainment and history buffs who met monthly. Oftentimes the group would host speakers of historical interest, including entertainers, politicians and historians.

Jones was a Sun photographer from 1954 until his retirement in 1996, when he served as chief photographer and photo editor. He is best known for his aerial photos taken prior to Las Vegas’ development, Mitrani said.

Mitrani was a photographer at the Review-Journal from 1957-62, then ran a photography studio until his retirement in the mid-1990s.

Jones died in 2000, and Mitrani kept the group going. Meetings drew 20 to 40 attendees, on average.

Mitrani said one of his favorite speakers to visit the group was Ralph Denton, a lawyer, politician and civil rights activist who worked to end segregation in Las Vegas in the 1950s.

“He knew more about the inside workings of Las Vegas politics and survived it,” Mitrani said.

Mitrani moved to southern Utah in 2005 and left many of the group-management responsibilities to member Lisa Gioia-Acres, then a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada.

A wide range of other speakers included “(actor) Tony Curtis, (District Court Judge) Lloyd George, University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections librarians, former showgirls, other entertainers,” she said. “Really anybody with a history.”

The group met in a variety of places, such as The Wedding Room on West Sahara Avenue, IHOP, Railroad Pass Casino and Las Ventanas assisted-living facility.

And then it was Gioia-Acres’s time to move on; four years ago she relocated to serve as a history museum director at the Siskiyou County Museum in Northern California.

“I volunteered to coordinate (remotely) because I wanted to keep it alive,” Gioia-Acres said of the media group.

But the group struggled amid the difficulty of finding a venue that suited everyone, Gioia-Acres’ distance and the deaths of several prominent members. One of the group’s founding and most prominent members, Thalia Dondero, died in September.

Dondero was the first woman elected to the Clark County Commission, and through her connections the group was able to secure speakers such as former Gov. Bob Miller, former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan and Bill Boyd of Boyd Gaming Corp.

“We had an amazing run with the speakers with Thalia,” said Media Group member Joe Thomson. After her death, he took over some of the organization himself, moving meetings to the Nevada State Museum. In November, Thomson was able to secure George as a speaker.

But the change of venue caused a rift. Some members wanted to stay at the museum, while others didn’t. Thomson, a historian and photographer, formed a new group, Pioneering Las Vegas History, late last year that meets at the State Museum on the second Tuesday of every month.

Some group members attended both groups’ meetings, while others chose one. The Pioneering group’s attendance continued to rise, while the “Old Timers” struggled, holding their official last meeting May 15.

Pioneering Las Vegas History’s April meeting focused on “why the original Las Vegas High School is worth saving” and featured alumni from graduating classes of the 1940s through 1960s.

May’s meeting featured a talk from principal planner for North Las Vegas Johanna Murphy, and on June 13, the group discussed aviation in Las Vegas and heard from Dr. Dan Bubb, a former airline pilot and professor at UNLV.

“Fortunately, we do have all these amazing people that are able to share their stories,” Thomson said.

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-477-3834. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like