Chance of a Lifetime

Overview

A history of Atlantic City during its heyday as the nation's center of popular entertainment, Chance of a Lifetime focuses on the first half of the 20th Century. This was the city's zenith, when celebrities and tourists flocked to "America's Playground" -- and political corruption, illegal gambling, bootlegging, and prostitution were all sanctioned as part of the Atlantic City experience. Beginning with the early attractions of the anything-goes resort, the author explores the rise to power of notorious political...
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Overview

A history of Atlantic City during its heyday as the nation's center of popular entertainment, Chance of a Lifetime focuses on the first half of the 20th Century. This was the city's zenith, when celebrities and tourists flocked to "America's Playground" -- and political corruption, illegal gambling, bootlegging, and prostitution were all sanctioned as part of the Atlantic City experience. Beginning with the early attractions of the anything-goes resort, the author explores the rise to power of notorious political boss Enoch "Nucky" Johnson. This sets the scene for the rise of entrepreneurial Paul "Skinny" D'Amato and his famed 500 Club -- a venue that encapsulated everything good, bad, and fun about the legendary resort. As D'Amato is quoted in the book, "Atlantic City was Las Vegas. This town was wide open." We are given an intimate, nostalgic tour of the city's storied history by insider Grace Anselmo D'Amato, whose husband managed the 500 Club for his brother Skinny. The book includes a foreword by renowned Atlantic City historian Vicki Gold Levi. Chance of a Lifetime is extensively illustrated with 178 images of celebrity, 500 Club, and historic Atlantic City photographs, in three lengthy gallery sections -- with additional images throughout the text.
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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
An engaging, uproarious true tale of sin, scrambling, and glittering legacy, Chance of a Lifetime is a unique and welcome addition to 20th Century American history in general, and New Jersey state history in particular.
The Courier Post
Chance of A Lifetime boasts dozens of Willie [D'Amato]'s photos. Among those depicted are Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Milton Berle, as well as Martin & Lewis and, of course, Sinatra.
The Press of Atlantic City
A rollicking account... There were few in the city as flamboyant as Skinny D'Amato. The book chronicles his career from his start as a precocious street hustler to his time as the owner of a nationally known nightclub. At the peak of the 500 Club's popularity, Skinny D'Amato was as much of a celebrity as Sinatra and the other entertainers who filled its showrooms nightly. ...A trove of pictures from the 500 Club. The general public has never seen many of the photos published in this book.
Whoot
Chance of A Lifetime rings true because it is a firsthand account. Grace Anselmo D'Amato takes us on an exhilarating ride through the extravagance, pathos, and optimism of Atlantic City's rise, fall, and resurrection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593220075
  • Publisher: Down The Shore Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Pages: 237
  • Sales rank: 1,142,534

Meet the Author

As the wife for 46 years of 500 Club manager Emil Willie D'Amato, Grace D'Amato heard numerous star-studded stories and experienced firsthand the glamour and life that Paul Skinny D'Amato's renowned nightclub brought to Atlantic City and the nation. People like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were D'Amato household names; Frank Sinatra was a family friend. Grace D'Amato's book is the result of an attentiveness to these events and years of research about Atlantic City history. Grace worked as an editor and freelance writer and lived in Margate, New Jersey.
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Read an Excerpt

Atlantic City.The very name evokes a medley of images, from the innocence of saltwater taffy to the perfected art of political bossism, illicit thrills of back-room gambling and searing delights of sex for sale. This is a city whose audacious stories hold more truth than legend, a city bold enough to take for its own the name of a mighty ocean and weather the storms and tides that rage from both land and sea. Chance of a Lifetime is about a place in time when larger-than-life people like political boss Enoch Nucky Johnson and supersmooth 500 Club owner Paul ³Skinny² D¹Amato grabbed fame and power and rode waves of popularity. They built a city on sin as a matter of civic pride and saw no contradiction whatsoever. Only in Atlantic City, and only in this shining era, could such men have seized the opportunity to influence politics and entertainment, the two main realms that to this day characterize the Queen of Resorts.

'Atlantic City was Las Vegas. This town was wide open.'- Skinny D'Amato

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