Okay, back to more thievery. With The 18th Amendment replaced by the 21st Amendment, PROHIBITION is officially repealed. Its time to have a drink, legally.
The glamorous supper clubs and the “legitimate” night clubs reopened their doors. The speakeasy’s turned their lights on even brighter, as most never truly closed AND all continued to be financed by THE MOB.
The Mob ruled clubs in Cleveland, Portland, Corpus Christi, The swanky Beverly Hills Supper Club of Newport, Kentucky, a jazz venue CLUB 18 on West 52nd St in NYC, The Chez Paree in Chicago,The Cloister of Chicago,The Copacabana (NYC), The Latin Quarter(NYC) just to name a few. To get a paying gig in these establishments you had to join the “local”…As Frank Zappa wrote, “Hey,you can call me Rudy, I’m the union man, and any of you boys not paid up on your card”.
One could seek employment through the AGVA- THE AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, a mob run union or through its sister organization the GAC (General Amusement Corporation) a massive talent agency.
So let’s pick one hot spot away from my NYC… say we travel south to Miami Beach located in beautiful, climate controlled as well as mob controlled south Florida. In the 1950’s Miami Beach had over 300 hotels. (Las Vegas had 4, hold that thought for later). AGVA acts would tour via booking by the General Amusement Corp, these acts would make the circuit from Miami to Chicago to Houston then to NYC and so forth with the agencies taking a piece of the action.
Tennessee was not one of those hot spots where these acts traveled on a regular basis. On January 5, 1950 the senator from Tennessee introduced Senate Resolution 202, AKA, “the investigation of organized crime bill”. In time, many clubs around the country were shut down only to find solace in LAS VEGAS, Nevada.
The BIG BAND acts peaked in the 1940’s and 1950’s with Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington Orchestras all rotating into the NYC Broadway houses: The Capitol, The Music Hall, and of course The Paramount (the home of Frank Sinatra and the bobby-soxers booked by not so clean William Morris Agency). A few years later Martin and Lewis are huge hits at the 5500 seat Roxy,
These shows as well as the coffee house folkies, and the comedians will make a smooth transition over to the newest AUDIO/VISUAL medium, the Television.
The radio networks of yore now become TELEVISION NETWORKS with Milton Berle’s TEXACO STAR THEATRE hitting the airwaves in 1948 as did Ed Sullivan’s TOAST OF THE TOWN .
At that time there was a total of 19 television stations in only 12 cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angles, Milwaukee, NewYork, Philadelphia, St Louis, Washington, DC, and Schenectady-Albany and over 200 different advertisers vied for airtime.
Keep in mind that there were only 750,000 TV sets manufactured by then. Advertisers knew this television thing could be huge if it catches on. And how could it not. People could actually see people, different people, from different regions, males and females, the audience could not only hear the news but actually see footage.
A huge cultural shift is about to happen in America and the world. And that’s part of my story. How my generation benefitted from the vaudevillians, the club circuit, the radio, and ultimately the television to get our entertainment and the news.
See you next time… Chapter 8:BEFORE THE BEATLES . Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org