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Key, Alice, 1911-2010


Alice Marie Key was born to Louise and Malcolm Key on March 18, 1911 in Henderson, Kentucky. She moved with her family to Riverside, California where she finished high school, graduating in 1928. Key then moved to Los Angeles, California where she studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While attending UCLA, she met Leroy Broomfield of the Cotton Club in Culver City, California and left school to pursue a career as a dancer and chorus girl. After dancing in California for five years, Duke Ellington recommended her as a dancer for the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York. Key traveled to New York City, New York and went on a six month Cotton Club show tour through Europe, including performances at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France and the Palladium in London, England.

In 1943, Key stopped dancing to work as a writer for the Los Angeles Tribune, a newspaper for Los Angeles's African-American community. Key moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1954 to work for the Las Vegas Voice, owned by her acquaintance, Dr. Charles I. West. She also started Nevada's first all-African-American television talk show,Talk of the Town, with actor Bob Bailey.

As a newspaper reporter, she exposed the separation of blood plasma according to race in World War II.

Throughout her life, and especially during the 1960s, Key passionately fought for civil rights through various community activities and public jobs. She worked as the public relations manager for the Nevada Committee for the Rights of Women, as the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as a member of the Clark County Economic Opportunity Board, and was appointed as Nevada's deputy labor commissioner by Governor Richard Bryan in 1983.

After retiring from public service in 1993, Key maintained her community activism through organizations such as the Barbara Jordan Democratic Women's Club, the Moulin Rouge Preservation Association, the Black Las Vegas Historical Society, Inc., and Ladies Who Danced.

Alice Key died in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 29, 2010.


"Alice Key." The History Makers, September 29, 2010. Accessed June 2019.

"Alice Key: A Renaissance Woman." Online Nevada Encyclopedia. Accessed June 2019.

Martin, Michael. "Wisdom Watch: Alice Key." Tell Me More on National Public Radio, August 8, 2007. Accessed June 2019.