Atlantic City 500Club D'Amato funeral2
! 5 f i i '1. 4. 1 if x- x- y t . V F 11) III IJ'h' - J " I if I Mr 5 lit i IIS -t. -t. ''. 1 -. -. c jr. Courw-Posl Courw-Posl Courw-Posl photo by Al ScMI Final goodbye Frank Sinatra (right) leads other pallbearers Church in Atlantic City, following a funeral as they carry the casket of Paul E. 'Skinny' Mass for the owner of the famed 500 Club. D'Amato out of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Mr. D'Amato was buried in Mays Landing. Sinatra attends final rites for Paul 'Skinny' D'Amato Continued from Page 1A And at one point an Atlantic City police car raced up and dropped off throe young altar boys who moments earlier had been whisked to another section of the city for white robes. Shortly after 1p.m., seven pallbearers pallbearers finally took Mr. D'Amato's casket from the hearse and carried it just inside the main doors of the church. At that moment an eighth pallbearer, pallbearer, entertainer Frank Sinatra, accompanied by two bodyguards, walked from the front of the church down the aisle toward the casket. When he reached the casket he paused, sighed and then helped carry it to the altar. The choir sang "Inherit the Kingdom." Although the four-page four-page four-page funeral program handed out to each participant participant listed Sinatra as one of 10 pall-bearers, pall-bearers, pall-bearers, the crowd had been wary. They didn't believe he really would attend But earher.toavoidcrowds, Sinatra had arrived in a silver limousine, slipped in a back door of the church and remained in the vestry until the funeral services began. Sinatra's affiliation with Mr. D'Amatobeganintheearlyl950s.Ata time when the famous crooner's sing-mg sing-mg sing-mg career was on the wane, he appeared at the 500 Club Later, when his entertainment fortunes improved, he ret urned to theclub eight times and performed for free. In the early 1960s. Sinatra purchased purchased a casino in Lake Tahoe, Nev . and Mr D'Amatomanaged it Federal agents shut the club for allowing known gangsters to be privileged cus tomers. At yesterday's funeral, Sinatra sat in the right front pew between Mr. D'Amato's two daughters, Kathy and Paula Jane. The Rev. George Riley delivered the eulogy. "People, who need people, are the luckiest peopleintheworld. . . .Many of us here came within the magic circle circle of Paul 'Skinny' D'Amato. We are indeed among the luckiest people in the world," he said. "He preached and taught us the realities realities of life, from the womb to the tomb. ... He was the man for all seasons, even though most us of knew he preferred the summer and the nighttime. "Skinny was a real student of the living. His summa cum laude was from the streets. He did not dazzle. He only tried to deliver. "The gold and glitter of Broadway to the simple man on the street, they all came to him. His heart, indeed, never failed anybody." Later, Mr. D'Amato's nephew, Emil, spoke. "Someone earlier said, 'There dies a legend," he said. "A legend did not die. An era died. His legend lives on. His life seemed to be a life of the longest running craps game. On June S, he se vened out. When you left. Skinny , the game shut down for good." After the funeral, Mr. D'Amato was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Mays Landing Sinatra left immediately after the church services He kissed both of Mr. D'Amato's daugthters and then returned to New York, where he performed performed at Carnegie Hall last night The procession of more than 100 cars that traveled to the cemetery crawled past Missouri Avenue, the site of the 500 Club. At that club, entertainers such as Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace and Nat King Cole once ruled the stage. In the 1930s, Mr. D'Amato recounted in a 1 978 interview, theclub was a front for a sophisticated gambling gambling operation. He later toned down the gaming aspect and converted the 500 Club into a nightclub. As the fortunes of Atlantic City diminished, the club also suffered. The showroom of the 500 Club closed in 1972. In 1973, the building burned down. Mr. D'Amato then retired to his home in neighboring Vcntnor, where each day he drank 40 cups of coffee, smoked five packs of cigarettes, watched television and phoned friends. After legitimate casino gambling appeared in Atlantic City the 500 Club block became a parking lot and the site of a gas station and White Tower restaurant. A section of Missouri Avenue was renamed 500 Club Lane. "I knew Skinny for 40 years. He was the greatest, he helped everybody. He was helping people to the day hedied," recalled mourner Danny Lucera, 74, at the funeral. Lucera was a 500 Club bandleader during the 1960s. "He always called me 'The Champ.' I tell you, there'll never be an Atlantic City like the old days. And now. Atlantic Atlantic City will never be the same now without Skinny. He was truly the greatest." greatest."