Donn Arden

This article is about the Vegas choreographer. For the English entertainment manager, see Don Arden.

Donn Arden (1916 or 1917 – November 2, 1994) was an American choreographer and producer.


Born Arlyle Arden Peterson Arden to a railway executive and a housewife, he grew up in St. Louis.

By the age of 9 he was already making money with dancing, he was considered a good tap dancer. Arden never married, he was always surrounded by beautiful women and by his own account couldn't be bothered, although he had been engaged in his younger years.

He lived in California for most of his adult life.


Arden studied dancing with Robert Alton, who later became a Broadway director. Arden decided he was better suited to organize and direct dance shows rather than perform in them. Arden got his first break in Cleveland, where he staged floor shows in clubs operated by racketeer Moe Dalitz. "My success was due to…I hate to use the word 'mafia'," Arden once said. "Moe was a great guy to work for. He believed in spending money."

Arden's dance troupe headlined the Desert Inn's opening in 1950. He later developed the Lido de Paris show (based on the show in the Lido in Paris), which ran at the Stardust from 1958 to 1991, and the Jubilee! show at Bally's.[1][2]

Donn Arden was credited with developing the Las Vegas showgirl image — a statuesque dancer in sequins, feathers and wearing a tall headpiece.

Jubilee! ran for 34 years in the Jubilee! Theatre at Bally's in Las Vegas. The show closed on February 11th, 2016, drawing legions of former cast members, designers, and fans.[3]



The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce[5] presented Arden with its first Personality of the Year award in the 1970s.

Further reading

Hopkins, A.D. & K.J. Evans, The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas, Huntington Press, 1999, 368p., ISBN 0-929712-67-6


  1. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. "Donn Arden and the Nightclub". Showgirls. UNLV Digital Libraries. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  2. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. "Jubilee!". Showgirls. UNLV Digital Libraries. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  4. Bob Mackie interview in Lights. Vegas. Action.
  5. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce website

External links

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