This week, Ira spoke with Suzanne Dalitz.
Suzanne Dalitz was born in 1957, at the very pinnacle of the Las Vegas Golden Age. Her father, Moe Dalitz, the legendary casino boss, owned several of the early iconic hotels, including the fabled Desert Inn. Dalitz was a brilliant entrepreneur, power broker and Las Vegas City father. But he hailed from a different life, from the mean streets of Midwestern Jewish neighborhoods where he made his mark in America’s shadows. He bootlegged liquor during Prohibition, ran illegal gambling houses in Kentucky and was involved in various rackets throughout the country. He had business interests everywhere, including ownership with his partner, Meyer Lansky, in Havana’s Hotel Nacional.
Las Vegas was where Moe Dalitz made his home. He arrived in the dusty gambling hall town in 1949 to begin a new life in a newly legal industry. But he could never move far from his past – nor could his family. He was pursued relentlessly by the FBI and US government, but was never convicted of a single crime. “I danced between the rain drops,” he once said of his resilience and independence. Dalitz was a philanthropist and Las Vegas promoter until the end, and with his partners, built many of the mid-century housing developments, malls, synagogues, churches and a hospital that stand today. Dalitz died in 1989 in a penthouse overlooking the city he loved and helped to build.
Suzanne was raised by her father and mother, Averill Dalitz, in Las Vegas, New York, Mexico and Switzerland. She became a California-based writer and editor at San Diego Magazine. She has written various articles over the years and collaborated on the book, Couples and Money (Bantam 1989). She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her family, and runs a foundation involved in international human rights and indigenous environmental causes. She is at work on a memoir about her life with her father, their amazing hometown and the dislocations of a post Las Vegas life.