Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Skinny's house

There are show houses and there are show houses. This year's Show House at the Shore, to benefit RNS Cancer & Heart Fund, is a classic: the Ventnor house formerly belonging to the legendary impressario and 500 Club owner and Sinatra pal Paul "Skinny" D'Amato at 12 South Suffolk. This house has changed hands several times since Skinny lived there and, although this is not included in the press release from RNS, has the distinction of having been the scene of a murder in the basement, for which his son, Angelo, pleaded guilty. But we digress. It also is a very cool house, and let's hope the designers know enough not to remove all of the Rat Pack cool, like the frosted silver mirrors in the dining room and other singular touches. In any case, the house is worth a visit if only to see the historic and legendary backyard patio, possibly the coolest patio on the planet, with stones imprinted with the signatures and handprints of the likes of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and other legends who made Skinny's 500 club the happening joint that it was, and Suffolk Avenue a block from the ocean the coolest street in Ventnor. (Incongruously, I have attended book group meetings in that same swinging living room, one owner back from the houses' present owners). Skinny took over the 500 Club in the 40s, and while there remain those who believe Skinny was a front for the mob, or at the very least, a very congenial host, there is no doubt Skinny left his mark all over Atlantic City. For more on Skinny, look no further than this excellent book: The Last Good Time: Skinny D'Amato, the Notorious 500 Club, & the Rise and Fall of Atlantic City, by Jonathan Van Meter. The Show House opens July 11 and runs through August 16. Admission is $25. Gala open house on July 10. More info at 609-487-1190.

Skinny's house

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Skinny D'Amato with pals Jimmy Durante and Donald O'Connor in the top photo and with Sammy Davis, Jr. in the bottom one. Check out the hand prints in the patio stone.

There are show houses and there are show houses. This year's Show House at the Shore, to benefit RNS Cancer & Heart Fund, is a classic: the Ventnor house formerly belonging to the legendary impressario and 500 Club owner and Sinatra pal Paul "Skinny" D'Amato at 12 South Suffolk. This house has changed hands several times since Skinny lived there and, although this is not included in the press release from RNS, has the distinction of having been the scene of a murder in the basement, for which his son, Angelo, pleaded guilty. But we digress. It also is a very cool house, and let's hope the designers know enough not to remove all of the Rat Pack cool, like the frosted silver mirrors in the dining room and other singular touches. In any case, the house is worth a visit if only to see the historic and legendary backyard patio, possibly the coolest patio on the planet, with stones imprinted with the signatures and handprints of the likes of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and other legends who made Skinny's 500 club the happening joint that it was, and Suffolk Avenue a block from the ocean the coolest street in Ventnor. (Incongruously, I have attended book group meetings in that same swinging living room, one owner back from the houses' present owners).  Skinny took over the 500 Club in the 40s, and while there remain those who believe Skinny was a front for the mob, or at the very least, a very congenial host, there is no doubt Skinny left his mark all over Atlantic City. For more on Skinny, look no further than this excellent book: The Last Good Time: Skinny D'Amato, the Notorious 500 Club, & the Rise and Fall of Atlantic City, by Jonathan Van Meter. The Show House opens July 11 and runs through August 16. Admission is $25. Gala open house on July 10. More info at 609-487-1190.

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About this blog

Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg has covered Philly police, city neighborhoods, Ed Rendell as mayor, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City, Miss America and the psychology of Eagles fans. She moved to Ventnor on July 3, 1995, which makes her a local, but not really.

Inquirer Staff Writer Jacqueline L. Urgo has spent every summer of her life at the Jersey Shore, and has lived there year-round for nearly 30 years, even fulfilling one of her bucket list dreams by once living in a house by the sea.

Since 1990, she has covered the waterfront for The Inquirer — from the Atlantic to the Delaware Bay shore — and some of the mainland in between. Along the way, she amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of this tear-it-down-and-build-it-back-up region, delving into the history and the hype of a place with a lot of unexpected stories to tell.

Reach The Downashore at arosenberg@phillynews.com.

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