Hall of Fame 2009 Inductees
Bernice Fischer, born and raised in Texas, graduated from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) in 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Following graduation, Bernice moved to Florida and then to Alabama, where she spent 32 years as an education specialist for Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
Upon retirement, Bernice traveled with friends to South America where she met her future husband, Virlis Fischer, a Las Vegas resident. The two traveled extensively for 19 years until his passing in 1992. Bernice describes herself as “a Texan by birth, an Alabaman by career, and a Nevadan by marriage.”
As a young girl in rural Texas, Bernice had no opportunities to hear live concert music, visit an art gallery, or watch a dance troupe perform. "I wasn't introduced to the arts until I went to Texas Woman's University," she recalls. There, she developed a zeal for performing and visual arts, and, since she arrived in Las Vegas, has been a dedicated supporter of many arts programs. Bernice has received numerous awards for her philanthropy in the Las Vegas community and received the Governor's Award for the Arts in 1995.
A longtime supporter of the UNLV College of Fine Arts, Bernice supports the ArtsBridge America program, a collaborative effort between universities and local school districts to incorporate arts into K-12 education. In honor of her support of the arts, the Judy Bayley Theatre Gallery was recently renamed the Virlis and Bernice Fischer Gallery. Bernice also enjoys telling the story of how her seats in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall were originally assigned to her by noted writer, producer, and former president of the Directors Guild, Charles Vanda, who was the director of the Performing Arts Center from 1967-88.
"We all need art in our lives, especially as young children," Fischer affirms, in her signature southern lilt. "My heart is with the arts, and we all should do our part to make sure they're not forgotten."
Lorraine T. Hunt-Bono is CEO and President of Perri, Inc., a real estate, restaurant development and management company established in 1972. She has been a Las Vegas entertainment and Nevada business leader for more than 35 years. Lorraine served two terms as Nevada's Lt. Governor and led the state's Tourism Commission's effort to successfully secure an exclusive license to market Nevada in the People's Republic of China, making her the first Nevada state official to formally visit the People's Republic of China. As Lt. Governor, she led the state's Economic Development Commission overseeing the Nevada Film Office that promotes motion picture and television productions in the state. Lorraine also was the first woman to chair the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board. In addition, she served as vice-chair of the Nevada Motion Picture Commission.
Lorraine and her family are pioneers of the Las Vegas business community. Her family moved to Henderson, Nevada in 1943 from Niagara Falls, New York. Lorraine graduated Las Vegas High School and attended Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles, California. She began her musical studies at the age of nine and embarked on a professional music career at age 18, performing as a vocalist on the Las Vegas Strip, and in Reno, and Lake Tahoe. She appeared on national television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Red Skelton Show and CSI. In the late 60s, Lorraine's voice was heard on many famous Las Vegas radio and television commercials as the voice of the Tropicana Hotel's Les Folies Bergere, the Desert Inn, and the Landmark Hotel (which she opened in 1969 with her musical group the Lauri Perry IV). Ironically, in 1995, as chair of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Lorraine imploded that same historic Howard Hughes property as part of the filming of the satirical motion picture "Mars Attacks".
Lorraine's son, Ron Mancuso, followed in her musical footsteps establishing his own prominence as a world wide contemporary musician and composer and serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the family's Nevada business enterprises.
Lorraine also participates extensively in community service, and her current public activities include Commissioner, Nevada Commission on Tourism; Honorary Member, Women in Film; Board Member, Education Foundation, Nevada Restaurant Association; Ex-Officio Board Member, Nevada Ballet Theater; Board Member, The Nevada Committee on Foreign Relations; and Honorary Member, Las Vegas Rotary Club.
Lorraine is married to recording artist and radio music-talk show host, Dennis Bono. Lorraine and Dennis have been married for three years and between them have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.
For decades, Liberace was known for his music, pianos, candelabra, charisma, rhinestones, and dazzle.
Liberace acquired an astounding array of prestigious awards, including Instrumentalist of the Year, Best Dressed Entertainer, and Entertainer of the Year. He also earned two Emmy Awards, six gold albums, and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's highest paid musician and pianist. Best of all, he was known and loved throughout the world as "Mr. Showmanship."
Born in West Allis, Wisconsin in 1919, Walter Valentino Liberace was one of four children of Salvatore and Frances Liberace. His Italian father played the French horn and was a member of the John Phillip Sousa Marching Band. His Polish mother played the piano. Liberace's brother George and sister Angie were also musically talented.
In 1940, his nightclub dates took him to the Persian Room in New York's Plaza Hotel as an intermission pianist. Seven years later, he returned with his own oversized grand piano and his first trademark, a candle lit candelabra. Liberace dropped his first two names in 1950, opting to use the elegant "Liberace" exclusively. In 1955, he opened in the Las Vegas Riviera Hotel as the highest paid entertainer in the city's history. His final performances were at Radio City Music Hall. Liberace passed away on February 4, 1987, just a few months before his 68th birthday.
Liberace's legend lives on in the Liberace Museum that houses his collections of rare pianos, classic cars, famous sequined costume wardrobe, glittering stage jewelry, rare antiques and private papers. The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has been funding scholarships and grants for the arts since 1976. Since then, more than $5.5 million in scholarships and grants has been awarded to more than 2,500 students at over 120 of the nation's premier institutions.
Liberace transported audiences to a dazzling world of color, joyful music, glittering costumes, and humor. One of his favorite songs was "The Impossible Dream," and because he had truly mastered the art of believing, he made his dreams come true.
Siegfried & Roy
Their very names conjure images of mystery and magic. They simultaneously changed what the world thought of not only entertainment in Las Vegas, but also the art and majesty of illusion itself. And in a city that once denied a place for magic, they stood alone at the top for four decades, selling more tickets than anyone who has performed here before or since.
Their charitable endeavors in their adopted home of Las Vegas are legendary. They have given their time, resources, and even opened their home to help causes ranging from children to animals.
For more than 20 years Siegfried & Roy have been committed to the conservation and care of the Royal White Tigers and White Lions. Both animals were on the brink of extinction, but through endless devotion and sacrifice, Siegfried & Roy’s undying efforts saved the species. Their population is growing in Las Vegas and throughout the USA, Europe, South Africa, and China.
Today they remain the city’s most iconic entertainment legends whose work in charity and conservation continues as strongly as ever. Their legacy as performers and conservationists will persevere around the globe forever.
On a first-name basis with the world, they are, Siegfried & Roy – Magicians of The Century.
William “Bill” Snyder FAIA
William “Bill” Snyder was born in Easton, PA, and married his high school sweetheart, Joy in 1970. He served in the Army as an Operations Sergeant in the Vietnam War. In 1978, Bill, Joy, and their son Dana moved to Las Vegas to pursue his architectural career. Shortly thereafter their son, Michael, was born. Both of his sons have chosen careers in the art field, Dana as an actor and Michael as an artist.
Soon after his arrival in Las Vegas, Bill joined the architectural firm George G. Tate and Associates. In 1982, he was made a partner and the firm was renamed Tate & Snyder Architects. Bill became the sole principal in 1990 when George Tate retired. Under Bill’s leadership, Tate & Snyder Architects grew from an eight-person firm to 50+ employees and one of the leading firms in the Southwest.
An award-winning architect recognized for his commitment to the profession and to the community, Bill is the Chairman of the Board of Tate Snyder Kimsey. His professional portfolio, amassed over a 32-year career, incorporates a wide variety of projects. In 2002, Bill was elevated to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. He is one of only four architects in the state of Nevada to receive this distinction. Under his guidance, seven of the firm’s emerging architects have been recognized with the AIA Nevada Young Architect Award and a significant number of the firm’s employees have served in leadership positions in professional organizations. Of those, two have become principals in their own right and one, Windom Kimsey, has become Bill’s successor with Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects.
Bill has dedicated his professional career to advancing the quality of all levels of educational systems. A struggling student whose own calling was sparked by an encouraging teacher, Bill awakens and nurtures potential. He empowers our nation’s youth to have dreams and follow their visions as he himself has done. In 2001, the William E. Snyder Elementary School was named in his honor.
In his spare time Bill enjoys various activities. An avid runner, Bill has run 32 marathons and spearheaded a running club at Snyder Elementary School. He also enjoys sketching, driving racecars, mentoring our youth, and spending time with his family.