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SAM DISTEFANO - VP OF Entertainment For Playboy Enterprises & My Introduction to a Friend - Part I

It was during the early 1960’s - before the passing of legalized gambling in Atlantic City. Looking back at this seashore town, I distinctly remember many of the musical lounges and nightclubs within a distance of approx. 2 miles. I had the privilege of playing with a number of combos and show-revues that were located on both Pacific and Atlantic Avenues. To name a few of these venues, there was “The Chez Paree’ - “Fort Pitt” – “The Sea Shell” – “McGettigan’s & Maguire” – “The Erin Sho-Bar” – “The Bamboo” – "The 7:30 Lounge" - “The LeBistro” – “Rocky Castellani’s” – “Club Harlem” – “The Hialeah” and many others including the Famous “500 Club” on Missouri Avenue. It was a special time I can recall, on breaks, visiting other bands and sitting-in for Jam Sessions until it was time to return back to play the original club. This would continue nightly throughout the summer season until the dawn.  Also, many of these musicians and Jazz players were from other states including Chicago played Atlantic City’s Steel Pier as side-men with the big bands of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey in addition to the major recording celebrities during that time. Some of the musicians that came from the Chicago area often talked about various venues located on the North and South side of the city. On the other side of the coin, this gave the opportunity for my local musician friends from the Tri-state area that played The Ambassador East Hotel, Continental Plaza, Hyatt Regency located downtown on Wacker Drive, they would often visit The Cloister, Tradewinds, & The Living Room nightclubs, all within driving distance. These venues would feature The Sam Distefano Trio performing nightly with visiting Jazz musicians and vocalists. Upon returning to the Philadelphia area, my friends would often talk about the talent & musicianship of Sam Distefano’s Trio and their welcoming of musicians plus vocalists from other areas. 

As we fast-forward to the year of 1976, 
legalized gambling in Atlantic City was approved. There was a big change to unfold as the building and reconstructing of existing hotels to Casinos took place. The nightlife and musical lounges that stretched along this 2 mile area of Pacific and Atlantic Avenues plus the Boardwalk sections of the city was becoming a memory of the past. Resorts International was the first casino and others to follow were The Sands, Claridge, and Bally’s, Tropicana, Golden Nuggett and The Playboy Casino.
Since Resorts International featured the Top-Name celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, and others – the lounge would be featuring Sam Butera & The Witnesses, The Treniers, The Checkmates, Freddie Bell & the Bellboys on a regular basis.  
***At that time, I organized a theatrical booking agency named International Entertainment Associates (IEA). In the year of 1979, my agency was active in promoting various fund-raising events for organizations in the Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate New Jersey areas.  When “Playboy” Casino opened for business – I had the opportunity to meet a respected Entertainment Director Sam Distefano, he was also VP of Entertainment for Playboy Enterprises. This was in the year of 1981. Even though my agency was active in securing entertainment for other casinos along the boardwalk area, it was my good fortune to meet Sam and to explain the entertainment roster of Show-Band Revues from the area with their following of fans and friends, which would be an asset to the Lounge at The Playboy Casino.  During the length of time that Sam was in Atlantic City, he gave me the opportunity to secure engagements for my entertainment roster of bands in addition, the producing of the afternoon show-revue  

“Summers & Winters” for the bus tours bringing visitors to the Playboy Casino. We developed a working friendship and spoke about various mutual friends in the entertainment business. I in-turn introduced Sam to my colleagues in Atlantic City. 

                                         

<*> More to follow - about Sam Distefano's association with many Top-Name entertainment celebrities

of Atlantic City, Chicago, and Las Vegas . . . in addition, the sharing of friendly anecdotes

during the time, he spent in Atlantic City.  Also my appreciation & gratitude with more information to follow - about the career of Mike Distefano (son), and for his contribution of photos & memorabilia of Sam's respected career in the world of entertainment. <>

                                                                                                                                                  

 

 

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    Response: Tourist Chicago
    SAM DISTEFANO - VP OF Entertainment For Playboy Enterprises & My Introduction to a Friend - DANNY'S BLOG - Danny Luciano

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