A Legacy of Shadows and Light

Moe Dalitz died Aug. 31, 1989, at his Regency Towers home overlooking Las Vegas, surrounded by his daughter, Suzanne Dalitz, and his grandchildren. He was 89. Dalitz’s ties to the mob—from his early years in the laundry business in Michigan to his days as a Cleveland bootlegger and casino operator—have passed into the annals of American history. After arriving in Las Vegas in 1949, he became a crucial conduit for investments from the Teamsters’ Pension Fund, an informal arbiter of disputes between rival mob interests and an extraordinarily effective financier, developer and manager. Although he was never convicted of a crime, Dalitz earned a place alongside his old friend Meyer Lansky as one of the financial geniuses of the 20th-century mob.

But Dalitz is also celebrated as a city-builder and major philanthropist. He owned, developed or financed many of the projects that helped create modern Las Vegas, including the Desert Inn, the Stardust, the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sunrise Hospital, the Las Vegas Country Club and Regency Towers. Dalitz and his partners also owned the Hotel Nacional in Havana and built Rancho La Costa near San Diego. He gave generously—and often anonymously—to Las Vegas charities until the end of his life. Among the beneficiaries of his largesse were the Variety Club, UNLV, Boys and Girls Clubs, the state of Israel and many of Las Vegas’ synagogues and churches.

Suzanne Dalitz now lives in New Mexico with her husband and their three children. She runs a foundation focused on social justice and human rights. She is working on a memoir about her father, their journey together and the dislocations of a post-Las Vegas, post-Moe Dalitz life.

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