Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is hosting a dinner conversation on Wednesday at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, focusing on one of the city’s long-ago underworld operatives.
Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman poses beneath a sign at the Mob Museum. Goodman serves on the museum board and was one of the driving forces behind its creation. (Image: Vegas Legal Magazine)The discussion at Oscar’s Steakhouse inside the Plaza this week will center on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who ran Las Vegas casinos for Midwestern crime families decades ago.
As a defense attorney, Goodman, 82, represented Rosenthal and other Las Vegas Mob figures.
Rosenthal had been a Chicago oddsmaker who moved in the 1960s to Las Vegas, where he could operate legally in the sports bookmaking industry. Rosenthal lived for a while at the Tropicana hotel-casino on the Strip. He married a dancer, Geri McGee, who performed in the showroom there.
The Tropicana, which opened in the 1950s, is still in operation on the east side of the resort corridor near McCarran International Airport.
Rosenthal eventually ran the Stardust Casino and other properties as the Mob’s inside operator.
The Stardust has since been demolished. Resorts World Las Vegas was built at that site near Circus Circus, and Slots-A-Fun on the west side of the Strip.
In the 1995 Las Vegas Mafia movie Casino, Robert De Niro portrays a character based on Rosenthal. Sharon Stone plays his wife. Goodman appears briefly in the movie as himself.
Rosenthal Survives Car Bombing
In 1982, Rosenthal survived the bombing of his car outside a Tony Roma’s restaurant on East Sahara Avenue near the Strip. Tony Roma’s later became a Hustler Hollywood adult novelty store.
The bombing was never solved. Some suspect mobster Tony “The Ant” Spilotro had a hand in it. Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit’s overseer in Las Vegas, had been involved in a romantic relationship with Geri Rosenthal. In Casino, Joe Pesci plays a character based on Spilotro.
Others believe Kansas City crime bosses, upset at Rosenthal’s high public profile, orchestrated the car bombing. Midwestern mobsters were receiving untaxed gaming revenue under the table from the Stardust and other casinos. The Mob didn’t want that illegal cash flow ruined by too much media attention.
Rosenthal had a television variety show broadcast from the Stardust, featuring guests such as Frank Sinatra. Rosenthal also feuded publicly with Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Harry Reid. That incident was dramatized in Casino. Years later, Reid, a Democrat, became US Senate majority leader.
Rosenthal ultimately moved to California and then to Florida. He died of an apparent heart attack in Florida in 2008 at age 79. Geri Rosenthal died in Southern California of an accidental overdose in 1982. She was 46.
Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jane Ann Morrison later revealed that Rosenthal had been a top echelon informant for the FBI.
Goodman’s Mob Tales
The dinner conversation on Wednesday features a three-course meal. A cocktail hour with a cash bar begins at 6 pm, with the dinner and Goodman’s presentation beginning at 7 pm. Tickets are available on the Plaza website.
Though Goodman doesn’t own the steakhouse at the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas, it is named after him in a licensing agreement. He hosts periodic dinners there, discussing his experiences as a Mob attorney and mayor. His wife, Carolyn Goodman, is the current Las Vegas mayor.
Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel has said discussions are underway to build additional Oscar’s Steakhouses in New York, Japan, or the United Kingdom.
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