In 1967, dancer Marta Beckett (1924) and her husband of five years were touring in California and decided to spend a few days camping in Death Valley. A fateful flat tire sent them to the desolate town of Death Valley Junction, where, from the 1920s t…o the 1940s, it served as the headquarters of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Marta stumbled upon a run down adobe-style building that had once been the epicenter of miners’ lives – with a hotel, office and recreation hall. In an instant, she and her husband decided to make a life there and agreed to lease the space from the town manager for $45.00 a month, assuming all the finances for any repairs.
On February 10th, 1968, Marta gave her first performance at the newly christened “Amargosa Opera House.” Accustomed to large Broadway crowds, Marta entertained an audience of just 12 people. “From that day on, the doors of the Amargosa Opera House opened without fail at 7:45 pm and the curtain parted promptly at 8:15 pm every Friday, Saturday, and Monday night for many years.” On some evenings, there was no audience, but she still performed. Fifteen years later, in 1983, Marta’s husband of more than 20 years left. Marta continued to dance. An exceptional painter, she created a visual masterpiece inside the hall. And today, 42 years later, she still dances.