Updated: Mar 13
New York City dancer, singer, and painter Marta Becket gave up city life to move to Death Valley Junction in 1967. She purchased an old adobe building that was a hotel and theater. She covered the inside of the theater with murals and performed in it until the age of 87. She lived another 5 years beyond her last performance, dying in 2017. (Image: Looking down the front of the Amargosa Hotel)
Her earlier performances were mostly dancing. Later, she focused on singing. I first heard about her after my parents moved to Las Vegas in the 1990's. Each of the many times I passed through Death Valley Junction, there weren't any performances at the Amargosa Opera House that day. I would have had to make a special trip just to go there. I never saw her perform, but a few years ago I toured the opera house and was treated to the wonderful murals that Marta created. Death Valley Junction is in the middle of nowhere, although in its hey day in the early 1900's the population was around 300 people.
Marta set up a nonprofit to ensure that the opera house would continue with performances. They recently had a sold-out reopening ceremony, which I read about. When I went to Death Valley a few weeks ago, we drove a large loop that included the Junction. The building still has the same "shabby chic" look it had the last time I passed by. The cafe is closed, but it's still possible to rent a hotel room or take a tour of the opera house.