Donn Arden

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This article is about the Vegas choreographer. For the English entertainment manager, see Don Arden.

Donn Arden (1916 or 1917 – November 2, 1994) was an American choreographer and producer.

Biography[edit]

Born Arlyle Arden Peterson Arden to a railway executive and a housewife, he grew up in St. Louis.

By the age of 9 he was already making money with dancing, he was considered a good tap dancer. Arden never married, he was always surrounded by beautiful women and by his own account couldn't be bothered, although he had been engaged in his younger years.

He lived in California for most of his adult life.

Career[edit]

Arden studied dancing with Robert Alton, who later became a Broadway director. Arden decided he was better suited to organize and direct dance shows rather than perform in them. Arden got his first break in Cleveland, where he staged floor shows in clubs operated by racketeer Moe Dalitz. "My success was due to…I hate to use the word 'mafia'," Arden once said. "Moe was a great guy to work for. He believed in spending money."

Arden's dance troupe headlined the Desert Inn's opening in 1950. He later developed the Lido de Paris show (based on the show in the Lido in Paris), which ran at the Stardust from 1958 to 1991, and the Jubilee! show at Bally's.[1][2]

Donn Arden was credited with developing the Las Vegas showgirl image — a statuesque dancer in sequins, feathers and wearing a tall headpiece.

There is currently a jubilee version of Jubilee! on show at the Jubilee Theatre in Bally's. The last show will be held on January 30, 2014, before the show is revamped for its March 2014 relaunch.[3]

Noteworthy[edit]

  • Actress and model Valerie Perrine started her career with Arden. He remembered her as "a secretary from Scottsdale with a lisp".
  • Actress Goldie Hawn is reputed to have been part of his troupe at the Desert Inn but was fired by Arden after only a few weeks. He remembered her as "a skinny fruitcake".
  • Bob Mackie was one time costume designer for Donn Arden[4]

Awards[edit]

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce[5] presented Arden with its first Personality of the Year award in the 1970s.

Further reading[edit]

Hopkins, A.D. & K.J. Evans, The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas, Huntington Press, 1999, 368p., ISBN 0-929712-67-6

References[edit]

  1. ^ University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. "Donn Arden and the Nightclub". Showgirls. UNLV Digital Libraries. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  2. ^ University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. "Jubilee!". Showgirls. UNLV Digital Libraries. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.boston.com/travel/destinations/2014/01/03/old-school-vegas-show-jubilee-will-revamped/Th287eTJYY5U64U57EVNaK/story.html
  4. ^ Bob Mackie interview in Lights. Vegas. Action.
  5. ^ The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce website

External links[edit]