Part of an interview with Jackie Brantley by Claytee White on October 27, 1996. Brantley explains how she became a public relations specialist for Desert Inn.
Jackie Brantley oral history interview, 1996 October 27. OH-00123. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Ne
Standardized Rights Statement
You were just telling me about your decision to make a change in careers. So where do you go at this point? At this point I went to work for the Desert Inn Hotel and it was really interesting. I went to Summa Corporation's Personnel Department and I put an application in as a secretary. I got a call the next week. The woman said that there was a position available at the Desert Inn Hotel and would I be interested in interviewing. I said, "Well, by all means." So I went in and I interviewed with two women. One was Bonnie Hayes and the other was Jenny McElvane. One handled entertainment for acts appearing at the hotel and then the other one handled the public relations or publicity for the hotel. At that time there were about thirty women that had flown in from around the country — from Los Angeles and various other places — who were interested in that position. It was considered a stepping-stone position. A glamorous type of position but at the same time you would have an opportunity to learn firsthand about entertainment, public relations, and how hotels operate. I interviewed and felt very comfortable about the interview, but I did ask the question, "This is a very interesting position. How would management and customers perceive a black person in this job?" And the question was posed to the two interviewers. And one of the interviewers took a different posture and she felt that the question was not too relevant because she had previously hired a black girl. Do you remember her name? I think her name was Barbara McCants. Barbara McCants had worked as her secretary and she had no problems with it. But Jenny McElvane, who was Red McElvane's ex-wife and had a very illustrious public relations career and was also embedded right here in the community, she looked at me and she said, "You know, I think that's a very valid question. I believe it was important because if it wasn't important you wouldn't have asked the question. I don't perceive there being a problem but I do think that if you're doing a wonderful job it will have no significance, in my opinion." Sometimes I felt that asking that question, plus my resume, and the fact that I didn't overdress — my nails were not done, I had no makeup on, plump from just having a baby ten months old, and just very natural. I think it was six o'clock that night, I got a call from Summa Corporation that said that I had won the position. So there was a celebration going on because I actually wrote the resume for that particular position. And God stepped in and said, "Okay, it's time for you to really get out there and enjoy yourself and do some of the things that are exciting." And it was an exciting job. Tell me about it. You started off at what position ? I started off as a secretary to the two women, both entertainment and public relations. So both at the same time. Tell me some of your job duties. Some of the job duties included making sure that the press releases were delivered to the various media: radio, television, newspapers, billboards. I had to coordinate with the advertising agencies any ads that were to run. I typed contracts for entertainers. Some of the entertainers being Nipsy Russell, Bobby Gentry, Foster Brooks, Wayne Newton. To meet with their public relations managers to make sure that the best photographs were selected to appear in the newspapers. Also to assist in writing the Friday Entertainment. Las Vegas prides itself in all this media. You had to write superlatively in order to get people to come to your show or else they would just look past you or pick the best picture. Being part of the whole Howard Hughes regime, one of the fathers of public relations took a liking to me and he would come in and sit and talk with me for hours about the old R.K.O. studios in Hollywood. How he and Howard Hughes were good friends and it seemed as though my creative kind of meshed with theirs. I was sort of a brain-child. So I helped put together a lot of different creative for some of the acts appearing there.