weather icon Clear

Hotel’s romance spans decades

I was looking for a new start when I came to Boulder City six years ago. I had a successful career within the publicity and events industry, and I wanted some downtime, which is why I identify with today’s Throwback Thursday subject so much.

Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, a fellow Taurus, stood at our very own Boulder Dam Hotel during his honeymoon. His then-bride was Helen Varner. They were an unlikely match with a 10-year age difference between them, but they tried to make it work. Vanderbilt was disinherited by his parents when he became a newspaper publisher.

The great-great-grandson of the railroad and steamship tycoon, Vanderbilt IV wanted to work, and he loved the print industry. His very famous parents, Cornelius Vanderbilt III and Grace Graham Wilson, often were the subject of newspaper and tabloid gossip, and they couldn’t stand the thought of their son being someone who profited from such stories.

For Vanderbilt IV, publishing wasn’t enough. While he owned the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News, the San Francisco Illustrated Daily Herald and the Miami (Florida) Tab newspapers, he wanted to do more. Vanderbilt IV had a well-vested interest in movies and dabbled in writing for the motion picture industry.

According to IMDB.com, he wrote the 1930 novel-turned-movie “Reno” staring Ruth Roland. The plot deals with a condescending man who must always have his way and who is also a serial cheater, something the writer may or may not have had experience with. I will say Vanderbilt IV was married seven times during his lifetime, and writers often compose from the heart!

The time Vanderbilt IV and Varner spent at the Boulder Dam Hotel was limited but enjoyable. The couple had taken a real liking to the Southwest and divided their time between California, Nevada and New York City. Besides staying at the Boulder Dam Hotel, they were often seen at the Grand Hotel at Santa Monica, which was another destination resort where celebrities and dignitaries stayed.

Varner stayed married to Vanderbilt IV for three years. She later married Jack Frye, founder of TWA, before dying at age 71 in December 1979. Her ashes are scattered around Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona, a place she adored. Vanderbilt IV died at age 76 in Reno after meeting and falling in love with his final wife, Mary Lou Gardiner Bristol, in the city he once wrote a movie about.

The Boulder Dam Hotel hosted many celebrated guests throughout its time. The Vanderbilts happen to be one of the more memorable and photographed couples to have stayed there for their honeymoon. The hotel, itself, is also listed as one of the Top 10 Romantic Hotels to honeymoon at, according to Expedia.com.

Vanderbilt IV was an outcast to his family. He was a man who sought adventure and enjoyed the limelight. Often the center of scandal and love triangles, he was also a hard worker who loved his native East Coast but equally enjoyed the many beautiful landmarks of the West Coast. He partied with celebrities, wrote for print and film and — like anyone — had his personal ups and downs.

My Throwback Thursday movie recommendation is “Reno.” The original novel and movie can be found on Amazon.com. I also am taking a side throwback moment to revisit why I love living here as I celebrate my seventh anniversary as a Boulder City resident this Saturday and will toast to the Vanderbilts — as well as the other stars — during my usual Sunday morning breakfast at the Boulder Dam Hotel.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Smart development key to sustainable future

I commend my friend and colleague Mayor (Kiernan) McManus for his comments in the Boulder City Review on Sept. 1 regarding his focus on conservation to best serve the residents of Boulder City. Together, our cities have a long-standing commitment to conservation and sustainability.

Solutions to nation’s woes just take action

What if you had solutions to a multitude of problems? Would you share what you knew or would you hesitate because the facts were contrary to the status quo?

Terrorists killed more than people

Sept. 11 changed us. And not necessarily for the better.

Dont let city become ‘Pothole Paradise’

Two years ago at a public event, a friend got in my face and in an uncharacteristic, agitated voice said, “Fix my street!” Initially I thought he was joking. But after two attempts to change the subject, I realized he wasn’t laughing.

Court of public opinion too quick to judge

Most people know me for my former Throwback Thursday columns with the Boulder City Review and some people may know of me from my failed run for City Council. What people don’t know, however, is that I used to work for actor Johnny Depp through a contract I had running events at multiple properties on the Las Vegas Strip. I was Mr. Depp’s private dining planner for all of his Las Vegas trips, including events with his family.

Relax, it’s Labor Day

Monday is Labor Day, and it’s somewhat ironic that a day devoted to celebrating the American workforce is a day that most of us strive to do anything but work.

Options for conservation must be explored

Fall weather will be a welcome change in the next few weeks, it has been a hot summer. Some of the hottest temperatures on record for Southern Nevada. And most of those records have been over the past few years. We can look at the changes in water levels at Lake Mead and know that things are very different from any other time in our lifetimes.

Agostini, Eagles Closet help those in need

Since the new school year began at the beginning of the month, students and staff members at Boulder City High School have made a variety of changes to help ensure their health and welfare in the wake of COVID-19.

Water’s low cost makes it expendable

Water is essential to life. Humans and every living species can go without many things but not without water; yet many take water for granted. We water our lawns, fill our swimming pools, wash our cars, take long showers, hose down our driveways and rarely even think about the costs involved. Why? Because water is too convenient and, most importantly, inexpensive.

City long devoted to conservation, environmental issues

The water level at Lake Mead fell to 1,068 feet in July 2021. That is the lowest level since the lake was first filled following the Hoover Dam’s dedication in 1935. This month, the federal government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time, triggering cutbacks in water allocations to surrounding states from the river.