Paul "Skinny" D'Amato

Marker is located on Southwest corner of Missouri and Atlantic Avenues.

Historical Marker text:

Known as "Mr. Atlantic City," Paul "Skinny" D'Amato owned and operated the renowned 500 Club in Atlantic City from the 1930s until the club burned down in 1973. D'Amato's 500 Club was a venue for big name entertainers like Frank Sinatra with whom he shared an enduring friendship dating back to Sinatra's debut at the 500 Club. "The Five" as it was known, was the place where Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis first teamed up. "Skinny" was also part of the resort's colorful past, whose Club was allegedly a gambling house operating for years before the advent of legalized casino gaming here. He also concurrently managed the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He was a tall dapper man, who often purchased food and holiday gifts for needy families. D'Amato's generosity was legendary which earned him his nickname as "Mr. Atlantic City".

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Additional information:

Born in Atlantic City, "Skinny" D'Amato was one of eight children. His remarkable climb up the business ladder started when he opened a cigar store, supporting his family by the age of 15 due to the death of either one or both of his parents. Skinny had only two complete years of schooling under his belt, but his business was successful, in large part due to the illegal gambling which occurred within it. D'Amato was a lifelong advocate for gambling within the resort before its legalization in the 1970s, believing that it was the way to save the city from its harsh economic downturn.

D'Amato's importance in the city grew when he started to run a restaurant and gambling hall called Luigi's. He later made the 500 Club famous under his ownership. He chatted with the club's entertainers constantly, becoming close friends with Frank Sinatra and many others who played The Five. An Atlantic City Press article once alleged that D'Amato even drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day and smoked six or seven packs of cigarettes!

His showbiz flair, however, was matched by his generosity. In addition to often providing for those in need around the city, D'Amato also put on free shows for wounded soldiers at The Five during World War II, when Atlantic City was occupied as a military base.

Sadly, the fast times at the club came to an end in 1973, when a spark amongst its backstage equipment started a fire that burned it to the ground. D'Amato had not insured the facility, and it was never rebuilt.

The marker is located near the site of the former 500 Club, which was at 6 South Missouri Avenue.

June 4, 1949. Paul "Skinny" D'Amato and Bettyjane Creamer D'Amato on their wedding day. (H009.920Dam956. Atlantic City Heritage Collections, Atlantic City Free Public Library) For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Local History Biography File - Paul "Skinny" D'Amato
Local History Subject File - Nightclubs - 500 Club
Jonathan Van Meter. The Last Good Time: Skinny D'Amato, the notorious 500 Club, and the rise and fall of Atlantic City.
Atlantic City Press
Atlantic City Magazine

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