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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.

Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.

Let’s talk about the ‘D Word’

OK, as a starting point, I must note that it’s weird to think that I might be writing something that would put me in agreement with the Language Police.

Make a new plan, Stan

A plan is a method for achieving a desirable objective. It’s a program of action, usually memorialized in writing. Plans start with goals and ideas. But ideas alone (even good ones) don’t constitute a plan.

Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Honoring National Public Health Week

In my eight decades of this amazing life, I have worn a great many hats: son, brother, father, major (USAF), grandfather, council member, state representative, state senator.