Scarlett Grable is a former Las Vegas showgirl. From the end of the 1980s to the early 2000s, she performed in a variety of productions in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Her big break came when she joined the Folies Bergere. That production made its home at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The famous showgirl spectacular opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1959 and ended just short of a 50-year run, in 2009.
Like many dancers, Ms. Grable took up her art at a young age. Growing up in California, she began dancing at five years old. Her mother was also a dancer. In 1987, Scarlet graduated from the Los Angeles High School for the Performing Arts. She said that is where she received significant dance training before becoming a Las Vegas showgirl:
“That was basically where I got all my training because the School of the Arts, they provided you with free training as long as you went to school during the morning and then they would give you three hours after each session, each day.”
Scarlett recalled what it was like to audition for and break into the Las Vegas entertainment scene, with her first job as a showgirl in the famous Folies Bergere:
“The whole cast was there in between shows and they watched me perform by myself and I got the job. Mr. [Larry] Lee said, ‘As soon as you finish your job in Lake Tahoe, call me and we’ll have you come down to Vegas and we’ll give you your start date for rehearsals.’ And that’s how I got in the show. It was just like that.”
Like a football player who gives their life to the gridiron and suffers debilitating injuries or a pro wrestler who routinely takes punishment in the ring and is physically diminished, Scarlett Grable gave everything to entertain Las Vegas audiences and is paying the price. Performing demanding dance routines, including frequent high kicks, her body began to give out on her.
Her life as a performing artist led to her having two hip replacement surgeries at the age of 45. Though she said she received warnings from medical professionals when she was 25, about her needing hip replacement surgeries if she did not stop dancing, Scarlett continued to perform in Las Vegas:
“They told me when I was 25, ‘If you don’t stop now, you’re gonna have hip replacements in your 30s or 40s.’And I didn’t listen. So we need to listen to these doctors. I didn’t have a backup plan. I never did. That wasn’t my intention in my life. My dream was just to be a professional showgirl in Las Vegas and I manifested that dream.”
At the age of 33, her career as a Las Vegas entertainer ended. In Las Vegas, there are many highly trained people like Scarlett Grable who give everything they have to entertain us. They make things look effortless, yet they spend years training and sacrificing so that one day they can wow us with their amazing artistic talents. People like Ms. Grable have helped make Las Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Scarlett had this to say about her dance career ending:
“You can never tell a dancer, you know, you can’t dance forever because they think that they will like I did, of course I did. And when I was 33 and had to exit the stage at Harrah’s, my life was broken. My heart was broken for years, it just tore my soul apart. It still does. It makes me cry because I love it.”
Today, she told us she will soon be resuming her career, here in Las Vegas, as a real estate agent:
“I just finished real estate school. I was a realtor from 2004 to 2008. So, I didn’t keep it up because, you know, the financial collapse. So I couldn’t afford to keep my real estate license. So I let that go. So, during the pandemic, I didn’t know when the city was gonna open, I thought, well, I need to do something. I need to secure my future. I don’t have a pension. I don’t have a 401(k). I don’t have a man helping me. I’m by myself. I got four cats. What do I need to do? So I thought, you know what, I love real estate. I have a passion for that part of life.”
Featured columnist Jay Bildstein joins us for this CYInterview to talk with Scarlett about her life as a showgirl and the many challenges she has dealt with physically.
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