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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Showgirl a highlight of BNC event

Published: March 16, 2012
Section: News

In difficult economic times, successful philanthropic fundraising requires creative thinking and original, attention-grabbing ideas.

This is part of the reason why the Brandeis National Committee (BNC) Las Vegas chapter brought Betty Bunch, a former Vegas showgirl entertainer, to speak at their 15th annual book and author luncheon on Sunday.

Bunch, who performed in shows and movies such as “South Pacific” in the 1950s and ’60s, shared photos and excerpts from her recent memoir “High Heels and Headdresses: Memoirs of a Vintage Vegas Showgirl.”

“Welcoming a showgirl as our guest speaker is perfect,” chapter representative Denise Needleman told The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The BNC chose Betty Bunch “particularly since such a significant number of our members have been residents of our valley since the heyday of the ’50s and ’60s,” Needleman said. “We were excited to learn tidbits about our own community and we thought it would be fun to share memories together.”

Bunch is not only a showgirl, but she is also a television, stage and screen personality honored by the University of Nevada as a “Walking History Book” according to Needleman, an expert on Las Vegas culture in its heyday.

Bunch reminded Las Vegas residents of a different time, when Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra performed frequently and the Riviera was the only high-rise on the Sunset Strip. Needleman said her archive of photos is “a testament to the continuing transformation that marks this town.”

Eighty-three BNC members and community members attended the event held at the Rampart Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The luncheon also honored Elliot Karp, a Brandeis alumnus and executive director of the Las Vegas Jewish Federation, who spoke enthusiastically of the university’s strong programs in the physical and social sciences, and Edith Einhorn, past president and current Communications Coordinator of the chapter. She received the Chapter Outstanding Service Award for her years of contributions.

The Las Vegas chapter is comprised of Brandeis alumni of all ages. They carry out the BNC’s mission of philanthropically supporting the university through fundraisers and activities that strengthen community service and social justice.

Each BNC chapter supports multiple causes at Brandeis, and the Las Vegas chapter is no different. They plan to award a full, chapter-endowed scholarship to at least one incoming student a year from the Las Vegas or the Henderson area. All proceeds from the luncheon will support this project.

Since the Las Vegas BNC chapter’s founding in 1994, it has raised more than $250,000 for the Brandeis library.