Chance of a Lifetime: Nucky Johnson, Skinny D'Amato and how Atlantic City became the Naughty Queen of Resorts

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9781593220075: Chance of a Lifetime: Nucky Johnson, Skinny D'Amato and how Atlantic City became the Naughty Queen of Resorts

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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From the Inside Flap:

The breaks are everything. It¹s the roll of the dice, the flip of a coin, the cut of the cards, the turn of the wheel.... You have to be in the right place at the right time. - Skinny D'Amato

In her glory days, Atlantic City was a sideshow on piers, a carnival on the Boardwalk, a house of women for hire, a back room full of cards and money. A world where visitors shed clothes at the beach and inhibitions at nightclubs, where more people came for sin than sun. She was a place where anything goes and everyone went, where the rules did not apply. Atlantic City was the birthplace of American Cool in mid-century, the first home of the Rat Pack, a haven where a down-and-out Frank Sinatra was always welcome - and never forgot it.

This book is the history of an iconographic American resort that explores showbiz greats who got their start there, real-life excesses that strain even the wildest imaginations and the outrageous characters who made it all happen. In this city of paradox, imbalance generated stability, mobsters were welcome, and recklessness brought people happiness.

Look closely at the details - the rumrunners, the Boardwalk and the clubs, and at their sepia images fading into time gone by - in the pivotal decades from Prohibition to the Jet Age. These were the golden years, when celebrities and tourists filled the days and nights of Atlantic City, when political corruption, illegal gambling and prostitution were all part of the Atlantic City Experience. Chance of a Lifetime details the rise and fall, and rise again, of Atlantic City¹s glorious glitz and guts.

Chance of a Lifetime is the inside story of that fantastic time by one who saw and heard it firsthand. Author Grace Anselmo D'Amato was married to Willie D¹Amato, manager of his brother Skinny's 500 Club. In this intimate account of the city, the club and the famous and infamous people who passed through, the author shares a very personal view of the naughty Queen of Resorts. The reader can almost imagine sitting in a zebra-print booth at the old Five when she drops by to tell the storied history of this 20th-century playground by the sea.

From the Back Cover:

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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