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VIDEO VAULT | A look back at 1983's Top 10 Most Influential Men in Nevada

News 3 Reporter Rob McCoy (KSNV file)

In early 1983, News 3 put together a list of the Top 10 most influential men in Nevada. The story below is how reporter Rob McCoy summed it up 35 years ago, with some footnotes added:

"At the top of our list, 83-year-old Moe Dalitz1," McCoy began. "A gaming pioneer who is also responsible for the rapid business development along this stretch of Maryland Parkway2. At the same time, Dalitz's activities have been watched closely by the FBI. Charges of organized crime connections have paralleled his success3. Despite that and his recent failing health, a recent luncheon4 honoring Dalitz turned out 500 of the state's elected and civic leaders."

"I feel that the City of Las Vegas has done more for me that I have done for it," Dalitz told News 3. "And I feel that anything I can do to show my appreciation for what Las Vegas has done for me, it's my duty to do that."

"Las Vegas is waiting for you..." sang the lyrics of a TV commercial over video shots of the exciting Las Vegas nightlife.

"The man behind this Convention Authority spot is another of our state's influential," explained McCoy. "Sig Rogich5, the main ‘R’ in and R&R Advertising. Rogich is a man who helped elect this man6 and this man7 and perhaps most importantly this man8, who is very close to the man9. Only eight years in the US Senate, Paul Laxalt has become Nevada's most powerful voice in Washington since Pat McCarran10. Laxalt has been described as the President's eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, and also a possible presidential contender."

"My Lord, if circumstances down the road--and I don't foresee this at all--would be such that I would be considered for such a position, my Lord it would be a high honor," said Laxalt. "Let's face it."

"It's been said a man who has power and uses it well uses it quietly," said McCoy, moving on. "Nothing could more adequately describe another member of the Top 10, Valley Bank's Parry Thomas11, the man who pioneered bank financing of casinos which perpetuated the rapid growth of Las Vegas gaming during the 1970s. Thomas will soon see completion of the Thomas Mack basketball pavilion at UNLV, the campus he helped start 25 years ago. In a rare television interview, Thomas pooh-poohed his top ten status."

"True or false?" asked McCoy of Thomas. "I heard a story that Parry Thomas promised Mike O’Callaghan this election year, that if he ran for governor, that you could raise a million dollars for his campaign."

"Well I don't know where you got that story," replied Thomas, slightly taken aback. "I am personally and particularly fond—and respectful—I think the word is 'respect' more than anything else—of Mike O'Callaghan. I did say to Mike that I would like to see him run, but there was never any amount of money."

"Carson City, Nevada," said McCoy, forging ahead. "The legislature meets here every two years, and two members of our top ten will be here. State Senate Majority Leader Jim Gibson12, who's survived recent efforts to have his leadership position stripped. And Jim Joyce13, of Joyce and Martin advertising. A lobbyist who some believe single-handedly runs the legislative session. Joyce is responsible for such bills as legalizing acupuncture, and Gerovitol14."

"I've never handled—in my opinion—a bad bill," Joyce told McCoy. "And I've turned down a lot of offers and a lot of money to lobby for stuff that I think is not good."

"Not everybody is perfect, though," added McCoy, "Joyce has taken some heat for Senator Howard Cannon's15 unsuccessful bid for a fifth term. Cannon, too is on our list. How long he will remain there is another story."

"Also on our list, Hank Greenspun16, Publisher of the Las Vegas Sun," continued McCoy. "Also, Mike O'Callaghan17, a former governor and vice president at the Sun. And another newspaper publisher, Don W. Reynolds18, who owns over 53 newspapers, a television station19 and a couple of radio stations. Reynolds may be the wealthiest of the Top 10. Some say his worth is near 500 million dollars."

"You've probably noticed that neither the outgoing governor nor the incoming governor were on our list," finalized McCoy10, sitting in front of a News 3 edit bay. "Some doubt that Robert List will have the clout of a Mike O'Callaghan or a Grant Sawyer21. And it's much too early to tell about Richard Bryan22. And who did those on the list think to be the most powerful? The media. That may explain why some chose to talk to us during this report, and why others did not."

FOOTNOTES

  1. Moe Dalitz (1899-1989) worked primarily behind the scenes with interests the Desert Inn, Stardust, and Sundance hotels. He later became a noted local philanthropist.
  2. Dalitz was instrumental in the creation of Sunrise Hospital.
  3. Dalitz was a Cleveland bootlegger during prohibition and then ran illegal gambling operations before moving to Las Vegas to "go legit".
  4. On Nov. 16, 1982, Dalitz was presented the "Torch of Liberty" award by comedian Joan Rivers on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.
  5. Sig Rogich (1944- ) went on become Ambassador to Iceland during the George H.W. Bush administration, and today runs Rogich Communications Group in Las Vegas.
  6. Democratic Congressman Harry Reid (1939- ), would eventually rise to become Senate Majority Leader.
  7. Republican Governor Robert List (1936- ), who today runs Robert List Company, a lobbying firm.
  8. Republican Senator Paul Laxalt (1922-) had previously served as Nevada Governor and is now retired on his family ranch.
  9. Republican President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), had previously served Governor of California, during which time he and Laxalt became good friends.
  10. Democratic Senator Pat McCarran (1876-1954) was elected to four terms and is known for his aviation legislation.
  11. Banker E. Parry Thomas (1921-2016) worked with Nate Mack and then his son Jerome Mack on facilitating transfers of money from the Teamsters Union, Howard Hughes and others into casino development.
  12. Democratic State Senator Jim Gibson (1925-1988) served 28 years in both the Nevada Assembly and Senate.
  13. Lobbyist Jim Joyce (1937-1993) represented clients of both major political parties and a wide variety of issues.
  14. The controversial anesthetic Procaine Hydrochloride which is touted as reversing some effects of aging, was legalized in Nevada in 1977.
  15. Democratic Senator Howard Cannon (1912-2002) served four terms before being defeated by Republic Chic Hecht in 1982.
  16. Publisher Hank Greenspun (1909-1989) founded the Las Vegas Sun in 1950.
  17. Democratic Governor Mike O'Callaghan (1929-2004) served Nevada for two terms before becoming Executive Editor of the Las Vegas Sun.
  18. Publisher Don Reynolds (1906-1993) Founded Donrey Media Group. His philanthropy continues through today's Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
  19. Donrey Media Group had previously operated KORK TV/Channel-3 in Las Vegas. The station was later acquired by Jim Rogers and Sunbelt Communications through legal maneuverings, changing its call letters to KVBC. Today the station operates at KSNV, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.
  20. Former KORK/KVBC Reporter Rob McCoy now serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Neon Museum.
  21. Democratic Governor Grant Sawyer (1918-1996) served two terms in the Nevada statehouse in the 1960s.
  22. Democratic Senator Richard Bryan (1937- ) served two terms following one-and-a-half terms as Nevada Governor. Today he is an attorney at Fennemore Craig.
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