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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » From the news archives 71 years ago: Don the Beachcomber mad at being copied in New York
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From the news archives 71 years ago: Don the Beachcomber mad at being copied in New York
TikiTomD
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 667
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-11-21 5:34 pm   Permalink

The following article came from the digitized archives of Google News (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=ZuSUVyMx-TgC&dat=19400717&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 4)...

Reading Eagle July 17, 1940




I’m guessing that the unnamed New York night club proprietor is Monte Proser. If so, there’s a great Tiki Central thread on it at http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=36222&forum=2.

-Tom
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-21 6:33 pm   Permalink

Great, finally proof of a reaction from Don - though "I am told that Don is mad about it" is more hearsay than proof.
I am still amazed that Monte Proser got away with opening SEVERAL places as "The Beachcomber-Home of the Zombie"!


 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
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From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-11-22 08:39 am   Permalink


I guess Monte got the hint and opened up a Playhouse Inn instead...

And what's NOT on the menu? Zombie! But many other Don copies, like Mystery Pearl and Kona Grog. I wonder if the "If and When" is really the Zombie copy?


 
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TikiTomD
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 667
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-11-22 09:37 am   Permalink

Sven, we can believe that Don was unhappy with Monte, as he sued him (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=71XFh8zZwT8C&dat=19410508&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 14)...

Miami Daily News May 8, 1941




Interesting, Swanky, on the lack of the Zombie in that menu; maybe it was a condition for settling a lawsuit. Don certainly had reason to target Proser on the Zombie, as this gossip columnist notes Monte was “rather widely heralded as the father of the zombie” (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=4oJvMfeQlr8C&dat=19400806&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 4)...

Ellensburg Daily Record August 6, 1940







Contrast this article describing Monte Proser as an optimist with the one above (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=8o7LCxyMrhgC&dat=19610329&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 4)...

Palm Beach Daily News March 29, 1961




Somewhat flattering and, then again, less than flattering is this article (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=SFOYbPikdlgC&dat=19540722&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 3)...

Spartanburg Herald July 22, 1954







Proser unquestionably earned the bragging rights here (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=zEYdoEEwLqEC&dat=19660624&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 14)...

Sarasota Herald-Tribune June 24, 1966






-Tom


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Swanky
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From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-11-22 2:52 pm   Permalink

According to what I read, Proser was injuncted (is that a word) from using the name "Beachcomber" or serving anything called a "Zombie" after Don's lawyers got done.

 
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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4086
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-11-22 10:11 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-11-22 08:39, Swanky wrote:
I guess Monte got the hint and opened up a Playhouse Inn instead...




Couldn't help but notice that theater mask on the Playhouse Inn menu. I wonder it that's where old Monte got the idea for the unique theater mask/hula girl design that ended up on the Lanai mugs?




And later on the Hawaii Kai mugs?



DC


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-23 12:31 am   Permalink

Wow, great findings, Tom! It looks like "The Beachcomber" was just a blip on the screen for this guy (the list of places he opened and closed doesn't even include the "Playhouse Inn")! What a man about town, chasing and getting married to two show girls (though not HER: "..Mamie Van Doren then began working on the stage. She was a showgirl in New York in Monte Proser nightclub version of "Billion Dollar Baby"...)



- that masked gal mug is clearly related to this and his Broadway theater connections in the Theater District, where the Beachcomber/Lanai/Hawaii Kai was located:



"One famous stretch near Times Square, where Broadway crosses Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan, is the home of many Broadway theaters, housing an ever-changing array of commercial, large-scale plays, particularly musicals. This area of Manhattan is often called the Theater District or the Great White Way, a nickname originating in the headline "Found on the Great White Way" in the February 3, 1902 edition of the New York Evening Telegram. The journalistic nickname was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area."

What the film industry was for faux Polynesian places in Hollywood, the Theater industry was for bamboo hideaways in New York. The Luau 400 for example was decorated by a THEATER art director.

Also, the reference to the Puerto Rican rum company....



...must mean this product:



Monte really was ahead of Don in the game for a while, it seems. Don got it curbed, but then he let his wife take over and really start franchising. Although Monte seemed to have been more of a creative "softy" like Don, too:

"Nightclub impresario Monte Proser was the quiet, dynamic force - the entrepreneurial spirit and creative spark - behind the original concept and operation of the Copacabana. This imaginative man, dubbed by Frank Sinatra as "the Genius," created, built, and ran the world's great American nightclub in its heyday, before he was muscled out by the Copa's moneyed organized crime interests. From his early adventures as a press agent, he segued into a number of Broadway and other ventures, from a string of Beachcomber nightclubs - predecessors of the Copacabana - a Madison Square Garden Dance Carnival, producer of Broadway and TV show producer, and owner-operator of La Vie en Rose, to entertainment director of the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas."

of course it all comes full circle with the mob and Vegas:

"How about the succeeding owner, Jules Podell? Actually Jules Podell was there from the beginning. He was the often violent, profane co-operator, mob representative, and Monte Proser's bitter rival for control of the club. While the Copacabana was still under construction, Mafia kingpin Frank Costello introduced himself to Monte Proser as his new partner, making it clear to the Broadway impresario that he had no choice in the matter. A week later Costello brought in the ex-op of Broadway's unsavory Kit Kat Club, Jules Podell, to oversee his financial interests in "Monte Proser's Copacabana." It was agreed that Proser would run the front operation, the floor and entertainment, and Podell would control the kitchen and wait staff. Podell became known as the boss man of the Copa. He was a tyrant, who was belligerent and ruthless. He was famous for screaming, spewing obscenities, and slapping waiters. When he was disgruntled, he would bang his huge pinky ring on the table, bang, bang, bang, and everyone would come running, "Yes, Boss? Yes, Boss? What is it, Boss?" In the tug-of-war for control, Monte Proser finally lost out when manager Jack Entratter backed Podell, instead of him. With the Copacabana's originator forced out, Podell continued to run the club for many years, while Jack Entratter was offered a sweet deal to run the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel in the new mob outpost, Las Vegas."

In this great LIFE photo you really get the sense of the man as the "brain" behind the scenes of the show biz operation:


..dubbed "The Genius" by Frank Sinatra? Not bad, Monte.


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-11-23 08:20 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-23 08:55 am   Permalink

I just checked last night's post, and the Copacabana text passages were made really confusing by the fact several words were replaced by "Proser" and read "Jules Proser", "Proser Vegas", and "Proser Hotel" for Thunderbird Hotel !?? Fixed that, so now it should make sense.

I just found this interesting bit from an interview with Chip Proser, his son, now a cameraman/script writer/documentarian:

"My father, Monte Proser, created the Copacabana nightclub and lost it to the Mob. He produced "High Button Shoes" on Broadway and very early television, including the very aptly named "Coke Time" with Eddie Fisher. My mother was a Broadway chorus dancer, a Copa Girl and Gregory Peck's first screen girlfriend in "Keys to the Kingdom". He left her for the priesthood and moved to China, which, if you knew Mom, made a lot of sense."

Wow, what a way to end such a career!


 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 4967
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-11-23 09:26 am   Permalink

And from there, we have Jack Entratter running things for the Rat Pack... What a tale!

 
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TikiTomD
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 667
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-11-23 11:01 am   Permalink

Swanky, this web site (http://www.scandalpark.com/blog/americana/the-man-who-stole-the-zombie/) indicates Don was ill-advised to pursue legal actions against Monte Proser because of Monte’s connections to the New York mob. I assume that means the mob had financial interests in Monte’s Beachcomber clubs. Perhaps Don received an “offer that he could not refuse” and didn’t press his case beyond nominal settlements that prohibited Proser’s continued use of “Beachcomber” and “Zombie” nomenclature.

DC, very astute observation on the Lanai and Hawaii Kai mug designs! Those are eye-catching!

Sven, wonderful stuff you unearthed on old Monte. Notwithstanding Proser’s misappropriations of DtB, he’s a fascinating and colorful character in his own right. While he never seemed to find lasting personal wealth, Monte made things happen and helped the careers of others. Here he is, happily surrounded by shapely show girls (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=8_tS2Vw13FcC&dat=19510325&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 73)...

Toledo Blade March 25, 1951








In the following Monte article, you learn how Ethel Merman got her stage name (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=wZJMF1LD7PcC&dat=19651208&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 7)...

The Milwaukee Sentinel December 8, 1965







More on Monte and his stars (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=VaBbNeojGYwC&dat=19410420&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page ...

The Sunday Morning Star April 20, 1941







How Monte won WWII (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=wZJMF1LD7PcC&dat=19531130&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 34)...

The Milwaukee Sentinel November 30, 1953







And finally, here’s an article on Monte starting up the Lanai – love the Catalina Island anecdote (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=feST4K8J0scC&dat=19610323&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 23)...

St. Petersburg Times March 23, 1961







-Tom


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Hiphipahula
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Joined: May 27, 2006
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From: The Valley! Female, leo,fav color pink.
Posted: 2011-11-23 11:47 am   Permalink

Great thread, now that's Tiki! But, did the Mob ever approach Don himself? How did Don get around them?
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-23 12:08 pm   Permalink

Jeez Louise, Monte seems to have been quintessential showman! DC's earlier post in the Monte Proser thread (where all this should have been posted) did not quite reach home until now:

Quote:

On 2010-05-23 10:05, Dustycajun wrote:

Talk story about Monte Proser & his night clubs, including the Copacabana. He is now managerially involved in six night clubs; the Beachcombers, In N.Y., Providence, Boston & Miami; La Conga, in Hollywood; and the Copacabana. He also has an interest in a new place George White is about to open on Broadway. Proser had dozens of partners. He has been connected with fifty night clubs during the past six years, generally as press agent. Mr. P. has also been a publicity man in Hollywood. "I once wanted to have all the clubs in the world, but I kind'a cut down. As it is, I've got a thousand employees. When you achieve your ambitions they become commonplace," he said. "I got a lot of saloons So what?"

DC



I would say that the combined research on this site renders the below blog:

Quote:

On 2011-11-23 11:01, TikiTomD wrote:
Swanky, this web site (http://www.scandalpark.com/blog/americana/the-man-who-stole-the-zombie/) indicates Don was ill-advised to pursue legal actions against Monte Proser because of Monte’s connections to the New York mob. I assume that means the mob had financial interests in Monte’s Beachcomber clubs.



...as rather lacking and incomplete now. Monte was not a mob man, he was however a classic operator and wheeler dealer. After such a productive showbiz life (and private life: 5 kids!), maybe I would have become a priest too!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-11-23 12:19 ]


 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 4967
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-11-23 12:46 pm   Permalink

Yes, Don had his affiliations with the mob. Various situations are described in the Bitner book about Don and the mob, and I have first hand stories of a certain mobster coming into DtB in Chicago, and well, we'll leave it at that.

I think if you were doing business in NY or Chicago in the 1940s, you dealt with the mob in some way or other.

And then, we have both of them doing business in Las Vegas as well!


 
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TikiTomD
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 667
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-11-23 3:34 pm   Permalink

Monte Proser passed away on October 6, 1973 (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=ZuSUVyMx-TgC&dat=19731008&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 23)...

Reading Eagle October 8, 1973



The following article, appearing just after his death, makes clear the relative roles of the Copacabana management team, and underscores what Sven said about Monte being no mob man (Google News http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aFwNBOTKqaYC&dat=19731019&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, page 24)...

Sarasota Journal October 19, 1973














-Tom


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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-23 3:54 pm   Permalink

Is this the longest thread on one page ever or what!?
What a sad ending, suffering from injuries from being robbed...I thought he became a priest in China !!!?


 
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