Like father, like son. So went the story of one Las Vegas family. Here's Senator Richard Bryan.
In December, a Las Vegas legend turned ninety. J. Kell Houssels, Junior, came to Las Vegas at age eight when his father bought into the Las Vegas Club. Kell, Senior, went on to co-own and operate the El Cortez, Showboat and Tropicana. He invested in other businesses, and worked behind the scenes in politics and philanthropy. His son followed in his footsteps and has left big footprints of his own.
Kell, Junior, was born in Denver, then lived in Pismo Beach, where his father was in gambling. His mother Alice had been a teacher and prized education. Young Kell went to the Fifth Street School and prep schools elsewhere, then West Point and Stanford Law. In 1948, he became an assistant district attorney, then went into practice in 1950 with his then-wife, Jeanne. He also served a term in the assembly. But just as his father went from being a mining engineer to a casino owner, he was interested in the business. Maybe his nickname had something to do with it: a prep school friend, noticing his visible reactions to poker hands, called him Poker Face Ike. Ike stuck and, as Houssels says, I like Ike! But like his father, he found it more profitable to run the casino than gamble in it. He did legal work for his father, then took on more duties as Kell, Senior, invested in additional properties and then began having some health issues. And Kell Junior invested in other businesses and became active in horse racing, owning and betting on some major winners... most of the time.
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