Once Upon a Time in RENO: The Marilu Norden Story


Marilu Norden, Hotel Riverside, Reno, 1957

In 1951, the glamorous singer/dancer Marilu Norden registered at the Pyramid Lake Ranch to wait out her six weeks for a “quickie” divorce. The Pyramid Lake was 34 miles north of Reno in Sutcliffe, a location that was remote then and still is today. Other notables who stayed on the Pyramid Lake for a divorce were journalist A. J. Liebling in 1949 and playwright Arthur Miller in 1956. Miller writes in his autobiography that the Nevada desert and the cowboys he met provided him with the idea for the 1961 film The Misfits. (According to Liebling, there’s more to this story, but that’s the subject for another post.)

After getting her divorce, Marilu performed at the Hotel Riverside. In her caption to the above photo she writes, “In my show biz days, this was the costume I wore as lead singer in a show at the Riverside Hotel in Reno. I sang Blues In The Night strolling a proscenium stage as eight chorus girls danced behind me!”

Marilu recounted her time in Nevada getting a divorce in her novel, Unbridled – A Tale of a Divorce Ranch


Marilu and Bill reminisce about the good old, bad old days when Reno was the Divorce Capital of the World. Scottsdale, AZ, 2012

(Photos courtesy Marilu Norden and her son, Chris Norden)

Another true story… The Divorce Seekers – A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler by Bill and Sandra McGee

One thought on “Once Upon a Time in RENO: The Marilu Norden Story

  1. What a great tribute. She was and probably is still gorgeous as Bill still handsome!

    Sent from my iPhone


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