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Nevada Government & Politics
Territory & Statehood

Myths and Truths

Senator Key Pittman died on November 10, 1940, less than five days after being re-elected to the U.S. Senate.  For years, however, the rumor circulated that Pittman had died before the election and that his supporters had kept his body in a bathtub filled with ice in either the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah or the Riverside Hotel in Reno, to insure his re-election.  Testimony by those present when the Senator died indicated he was still alive on election day.

Senator Pittman, however, was very ill at the time of the election.  Pittman had gone on a drinking spree at the Riverside Hotel just prior to the election and suffered a heart attack as a result.  The Senator was transported to Washoe Medical Center, and news of the severity of his illness was not released.  Nevada voters unknowingly elected a dying man to office--but Senator Pittman's dead body was not on ice in a bathtub on Election Day.

Photo Credit:
Nevada State Library and Archives