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Jones, Judy Lee (Johnson)


In the 1950s and 1960s, the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino featured
glamorous showgirls. For a few years, the Houston Chronicle sponsored a contest that
added the Texas Copa Girls to the line. In 1958, one of the winners was 17-year-old
Judith Lee Johnson. For the "wild" but "naive" Judy, the experience was a period of funfilled
freedom, followed by relentless encouragement of others to attend college, which
she reluctantly did. To her surprise, she embraced the college life, took her studies
seriously, and received an education degree. She also became Miss Houston.
Four years later she returned to Las Vegas and the Sands. As she stepped into her role as
a showgirl this second time, she was no longer the newbie. She experiences the lifestyle
with more maturity. She talks about the celebrities she met, the lasting friendships she
formed, performing in the Elvis movie Viva Las Vegas, and her trip around the world, a
trip that included her personal dream of going to Paris.
Judy shares details of her family heritage and she wonders to what extent she might have
been living her mother's dream. Though her love of performance and theatre is keen,
Judy channeled her passions into a 29-year career as an educator. She married a Marine
in 1965, raised their children, moved with his career. She and her husband, Walter F.
Jones, live in Virginia.