500 Club

Memories of Dean, Frank & Sammy at the 500 Club, Atlantic City


By Don Altobell

I will never forget August 26, 1962.

I was 24 at the time and after having the good fortune of seeing Dean Martin's appearance at the 500 Club in Atlantic City on Aug 19 -- his first solo gig since his split with Jerry Lewis -- the following week gave me an added treat.

Thanks to a drawing I did of Dean, I was able to see his opening shows and also attend rehearsals. And 500 Club owner Skinny Damato introduced me to Dean, who autographed my drawing, which still hangs on my living room wall.

Fans knew that Dean's pal, Frank Sinatra, would join him midweek to conclude the engagement. Atlantic City was bursting at the seams, with all hotels, motels, and restaurants jam-packed. At the club itself, tables were pushed together to make room for more patrons. It was a bonanza time for Atlantic City long before the first casino was opened.

That closing night after early dinner, I made my way through the block-long line and was ushered inside by a policeman who remembered me after seeing me at so many shows. I didn't mind that I had no seat.

Dean was introduced as the star of the show and opened with "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" followed by "Volare," "On An Evening in Roma" and "Goody, Goody."

Then Sinatra sang, "I Get a Kick Out Of You," followed by Sammy Davis' Jr. doing "The Lady Is A Tramp." (Davis also imitated some actors singing the song including James Cagney and Marlon Brando).

Then Frank, Dean and Sammy clowned around and sang "You Are Too Beautiful," "Love Walked Right In" and "This Is My First Affair."

While Dean and Frank sang, Sammy danced to "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Too Marvelous for Words," "It Had To Be You," and "I've Got the World on a String."

Then all three stars joined to close the show with "The Birth of the Blues."

We all left in the early morning sunlight of Monday morning before making our way to work.

It was the last time the Rat Pack ever performed as a trio in Atlantic City.

In retrospect, I must admit that their singing probably suffered, but the pure entertainment and thrill of seeing them all on the stage overcame any vocal lapses. It was a night that no one in attendance would ever forget.