Gail Spaulding (Jaros) McQuary was born on October 16, 1937 in Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Both of her parents were in show business. Gail’s mother, Fern (Spaulding) Jaros, was a professional trombone player who played with the Chicago Women’s Symphony Orchestra and with the internationally-known Babe Egan and her Hollywood Redheads in the 1920s and 1930s. Her father, Jerry Jaros, was a professional saxophone player who performed at the 5100 Club in Chicago, and with Danny Thomas and other famous stars.
When she was five years old, Gail began tap and ballet lessons in Chicago, under the tutelage of Edith Raispeth, a George Abbott dancer. When she was twelve, Gail moved with her family to Southern California where she continued her dance lessons and did some television work and shows. In her senior year, Gail auditioned for Moro-Landis Productions. After graduation from high school, she signed with Moro-Landis to perform at the Sacramento State Fair in 1956. From those beginnings, she moved with the Moro-Landis dancers to the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the Riverside Hotel and Casino in Reno, and the Beverly Hills Country Club in Covington, Kentucky. At the Beverly Hills Country Club, Gail returned to choreography when George Moro promoted her to line captain.
Shortly after the birth of her daughter, she ended her dancing career. But in 1964, Gail moved back to Las Vegas and trained in real estate, eventually becoming General Sales Manager and Corporate Broker for Realty Executives in Las Vegas.
Gail McQuary’s oral history was collected as part of the series on women who worked in the entertainment industry. Through her story, one sees the evolution of a dancer’s life, from the era of the line dancer to the development of the Lido-type production which incorporated both dancers and showgirls, such as the Tropicana’s Folies Bergere. To Gail and other dancers like her, dancing was a profession and behaving professionally was the hallmark of a good performer.
Gail tells us what it was like to work as an entertainer in the 1950s and 1960s, contrasting yesterday’s more intimate star-studded lounge acts, which patrons attended “dressed to the nines,” with today’s big production shows and casino floor space covered with slot machines to draw in the tourists. The first-person narratives of Gail McQuary and others in the Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project provide a vivid account of the early history of the entertainment industry in Nevada.
Photo courtesy of Gail McQuary. It may not be reproduced without the special permission.