Master of Arts (MA)
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Second Committee Member
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Showgirls are a cultural icon that is linked intrinsically with Las Vegas, where the image of a showgirl is prevalent and often ubiquitous. This thesis will look at the showgirl in Las Vegas and a brief history of the how she came to be, as represented by Donn Arden’s Jubilee!. This will include a discussion of the specific people and elements that contributed to the presentation of the showgirl: Donn Arden, who created the Las Vegas showgirl spectaculars, Company Manager Ffolliott “Fluff” LeCoque, scenic designer Ray Klausen and costume designers Bob Mackie and Pete Menefee.
This is a necessary thesis as there is very little concrete documentation available regarding showgirls and their milieu, other than the information provided for publicity purposes in order to promote Las Vegas entertainment and tourism. This study is important as it will provide an authentic, factual record of the Las Vegas showgirl and the productions that she appeared in, particularly Donn Arden’s Jubilee!.
In writing this thesis, I used an ethnographic approach using oral interviews with Ffolliott LeCoque, Ray Klausen, Pierre Rambert, Michael Pratt and Pete Menefee, print and online sources and access to the private scrapbooks of Ffolliott LeCoque. Additionally, my own entertainment background in Las Vegas has given me the necessary knowledge to discuss this topic expertly.
The showgirl spectaculars were one of the major theatrical types of entertainment in Las Vegas. I argue that the showgirl and the productions that shaped her are a dying form of entertainment in Las Vegas because of the high costs needed to produce the shows, changes within the casino structure that affected how the showgirl shows were produced and societal changes that has affected how we view the showgirl and the Las Vegas production shows.
Donn Arden; Fluff LeCoque; Jubilee!; Las Vegas; Showgirls; Stage spectaculars
Theatre and Performance Studies
Palm, Diane Marie, "Rhinestones in the Desert: The Rise and Fall of the Las Vegas Showgirl and the Productions That Shaped Her" (2016). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2720.
Available for download on Friday, May 14, 2021