Dan Orlich

Photo by Dennis Myers

After four years in the Marines in World War II, Dan Orlich attended the University of Nevada where he was a celebrated defensive end during what some regard at the campus’s gridiron golden age—including a storied game against Oregon the UN won 13-7. After college he played for the Packers for three years, then returned to Reno and a security job at Harold’s Club where he rose to casino manager, leaving after the club was purchased by Howard Hughes to join Harrah’s. Orlich was later a first rank trapshooter, named to the All-American team 22 times and captain six times and is in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in Valdalia, Ohio.

You played for Green Bay.

Oh my God, that was so long ago. We had fun. It wasn’t as tense as it is now. And of course, now the players are bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, everything—better trained. You know, I played ‘49, ‘50 and ‘51. Heck, the first year we played, we didn’t even require face masks. … Let’s face it, we had four coaches. Now they have more coaches and trainers than we had on the entire football team.

Do you ever get tired of telling the story of the Oregon game?

God, you know, that’s so remote. I do remember a few of the incidents. My friend Duke Lindeman—

Did you see his catch?

The interception? I was standing right next to him! He had just intercepted the ball and he ran, I don’t know how many, 80 yards for a touchdown. And he was so tired. Now, Oregon had the ball. I don’t know, maybe a minute or so left. And he [Lindeman] sent all the ends in as pass protectors, because he said, “You guys are basketball players, you’re tall, and I want all of you guys in there in the secondary. Well, Duke was so tired he put his helmet on backwards! And I don’t know if there’s anybody else on the team remembers this, but he put his helmet on backwards, and he was wondering why he couldn’t see. So I went up there and said, “Duke, turn your helmet around.”

What was it like doing security at Harold’s?

God, you’re asking me questions that happened over 60 years ago. Security—totally unlike today. We were called bouncers—throw this guy out. Now you can’t do it because he’ll sue you.

Were you there when they filmed Five Against the House [made at Harold’s in 1955]?

Oh yes, absolutely. … Brian Keith, he was the one. Is he still alive, do you know? He was the one that used to stay after all the filming, he used to stay and get smashed. And he was a character, he had fun with the dealers, he had fun with the doormen, he had fun with us floor men. He was just a kick, I just love him.

I was hoping you were going to tell me about Kim Novak.

Kim Novak, I just remember seeing her. Hey, not too bad looking, either.

You were at Harold’s for about a year after Hughes bought it, right?

Exactly one year. … They were Vegas people, we were Reno people. We were under the tutelage of the Smith family [former owners], which was very loose, very congenial. And they were just typical Las Vegas nose-down, ass-up gamblers. And it was not a very pleasant year.

How do you spend your time these days?

I go to work out every morning at the Elks Club, and from there I go to the Prospectors Club at Harrah’s, then I have lunch and I listen to the gin rummy players bitch at each other, and I do a few crosswords. And that’s it. On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays I go out to the gun club. I can’t shoot anymore because I’ve got that dreaded macular degeneration.