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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Copa: Jules Podell and the Hottest Club North of Havana » User review

A fond look back at one of America's greatest entertainment venues.

  • Jun 25, 2010

Every so often I discover a new book about a totally off the wall topic that really piques my curiosity.  Ordinarily, I read books about serious subjects such as history, politics, medicine and the environment.  But as one might well imagine some of these books can be quite depressing.  I was ready for something lighter when I happened upon "The Copa: Jules Podell and the Hottest Club North of Havana".  Co-authored by Jules Podell's adopted daughter Mickey Podell-Raber and longtime Sinatra family archivist and producer Charles Pignone, "The Copa" documents the star-studded history of one of America's great nightclubs.  Packed with never before seen photographs, menus and club memorabilia, "The Copa" transports the reader back to a time and place the likes of which we will probably never see again.  For those who were lucky enough to have attended a show at The Copa, this book will bring back wonderful memories.  For the rest of us it is a glimpse at a bygone era.  Either way this was one highly enjoyable book.

"The Copa" you will learn all about Jules PodellPodell was one of the co-owners of the Copa when it opened for business way back in 1940.  And for more than three decades Jules Podell would oversee operations at the Copa.  He was a tough, gruff owner who made sure that everything was "just so" at his nightclub.  Indeed, the food at the Copacabana was always superb and the entertainment second to none.  During the club's hey-day in the 1940's and 1950's the roster of entertainers who graced the stage at the Copa reads like a "who's who" of American show business.  People would line up for hours to see legendary singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee. And in the early 1950's the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis packed them in for 3 shows each night for weeks at a time.  Those were the days when people dressed up and looked forward to going out for a night on the town.  However, with the dawn of television the habits of the American public slowly began to change.  Now people were much less inclined to leave the comfort of their homes to see a "live" show, particularly on weeknights.  And when stiff new competition for top acts emerged from the clubs and hotels in Las Vegas Jules Podell could see the handwriting on the wall.  By the early 1970's the business had changed dramatically and shortly after Jules Podell's death in 1973 the Copacabana as we knew it would be forced to close its doors.  A few years later the club did re-open under new management and The Copacabana has managed to remain open over the years at various locations.  But the glory days were gone forever and the Copa would never again be considered the entertainment mecca of America.

I found
"The Copa: Jules Podell and the Hottest Club North of Havana" to be a fun read from cover-to-cover.  The photos from the Podell family's collection are sensational.  They sure make me wish that I had been around New York City in those unforgettable days.  For me, "The Copa" proved to be a terrific change of pace.   Recommended.

A fond look back at one of America's greatest entertainment venues. A fond look back at one of America's greatest entertainment venues. A fond look back at one of America's greatest entertainment venues. A fond look back at one of America's greatest entertainment venues.

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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this book


This beautifully illustrated history of Jules Podell's legendary club Copacabana features colorful characters, romance, and intrigue from the golden age of nightclubs.

In this fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the world's most legendary nightclubs, the story of the Copa begins and ends with its fiery owner, Jules Podell. A Russian immigrant, Jules dropped out of the fourth grade to make money for his family and went on to create the number one destination for the rich, famous, and dangerous of New York.

All the legends of the fifties and early sixties stood on his stage, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, Sam Cooke, Johnny Mathis, and the Temptations.

This book, which includes the Podell family's never-before-seen photos, menus, and club memorabilia, as well as interviews, allows us to truly get a peek at the Copa and its great moment in New York history.

Mickey Podell-Raber is the only child of longtime Copacabana owner Jules Podell. She grew up going to the club every Sunday night for dinner and a show, and even had a direct line into the kitchen to order all her meals and shared many of the big moments in her life with many of the stars who graced her father's stage.

Charles Pignone, author of New York Times bestseller The Sinatra Treasures and one-time president of the Sinatra Society of America, works as an archivist and producer for the Sinatra family.

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ISBN-10: 0061240990
ISBN-13: 978-0061240997
Author: Mickey Podell-Raber
Genre: Entertainment
Publisher: Collins
Date Published: October 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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