Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
While many people world-wide would likely recognize her seminal design work – the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign in Las Vegas, Nevada – most probably have probably never heard of Betty Whitehead Willis, the designer of the iconic sign. She died this week at the age of 91.
The Neon Museum of Las Vegas also credits her with the creation of the Blue Angel Motel sign and the Moulin Rogue Hotel sign. Retiring from design at the age of 77, Willis never trademarked her most famous work saying it was “my gift to the city.”
These days it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say that the recreation of this design on t-shirts and other tourist trap treasures has probably resulted in millions of dollars of profit.
Willis was a Las Vegas native who attended art school in L.A. She first work for Fox West Coast Theaters in L.A. designing advertisements. Later she returned to Las Vegas where she worked at the courthouse, but finally landed a job creating neon signs at Western Neon. It was at Western Neon she designed the famous sign.