Television

Who was Ralph Lamb?

A quick history of the real-life sheriff at the center of new NBC show ‘Vegas’

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Ralph Lamb, Clark County sheriff from 1961 to 1979.

• The brawling cowboy lawman and Alamo rancher served as Clark County sheriff from 1961 to 1979.

• After serving in Army Intelligence during World War II, Lamb entered Las Vegas law enforcement in 1947, just months after mobster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel.

• Lamb left the force in the mid-1950s to open a private detective agency, which had among its clients billionaire Howard Hughes.

• Lamb, appointed to the then-vacant sheriff’s job in 1961, won election to that post a year later. He was re-elected a record three more times but was defeated in 1978 amid charges of federal income tax evasion, for which he was later exonerated. Lamb lost again in a 1994 bid for sheriff.

• As sheriff, Lamb established Las Vegas’ first crime lab and first SWAT team and oversaw the merger of the old Las Vegas Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Office into the Metropolitan Police Department.

• During the 1960s, Lamb struggled to coexist with the well-entrenched Mob and worked with federal authorities in the 1970s to end the Mafia’s influence over the gaming industry.

• Trailers for the series show Dennis Quaid carrying a shotgun or rifle in nearly every scene. To the contrary, Lamb the lawman never shot anyone.

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