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by Billy Ingram

Latin Casino Dinner Theater in Cherry Hill, NJ

Cherry Hill New Jersey

Jody Gerson is the Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, the first female to run a major music publishing company.

I interviewed her in 2010 about her family and their illustrious nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey - the world famous Latin Casino.

The Latin Casino was one of many glamorous nightclubs around the country that booked big name performers like Jerry Lewis, Pat Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, Tony Bennett, you name 'em.


And while it wasn't a casino in the Las Vegas sense, the club brought in the kind of high powered performers you'd find in Vegas.


Jody Gerson: My father and grandfather owned the Latin Casino, it was right across from the Garden State Racetrack, it was originally in Philadelphia but they moved it to Cherry Hill in 1960. It was a huge nightclub, a big stage with ringside seats. It was a dinner theater, so you went there in those days and you didn't even pay for the entertainment you paid for dinner. There were 7 shows a week and two shows on Sunday. I spent every Sunday afternoon there at the matinee show having dinner with my father and my grandfather.

Dean Martin Live Summer 1977 Latin Casino:


The Latin Casino was a favorite of Frank Sinatra. It's the only place that he and Dean Martin travelled to outside of Vegas and Lake Tahoe and they did a week of shows there in the summer of 1977. How did that come about?

Jody Gerson: Sinatra wore a tuxedo every day but Sunday, I remember one Sunday my father wearing a tux knowing Sinatra would not be wearing a tux that night. My father booked Sinatra and they had such a good time together and it was so tremendous that Sinatra said to my father, "What can I do for you? I'm going to come back, what can I do for you?"

My father said, "Bring Dean Martin with you." And Sinatra said, "Okay, as long as you play golf with him every day." I remember it very well, I was 16 at the time, they were amazing performers. And my father did play golf with him every day.

There was an element of class. There was a certain decorum in dealing with fans and dealing with people. They were gentlemen, whatever they were behind the scenes as soon as the curtain came up they were gentlemen. I remember all kinds of people calling our house when they were playing looking for my dad, trying to get tickets.

Atlantic City legalized gambling [soon after] and the acts couldn't play within a 60 mile radius obviously the casinos could pay way more for talent. So they closed it and it became a disco.

It was a sad thing but it would have ended anyway, Other than in Vegas who works 7 nights a week and two shows on Sunday? Who does that? They don't. It was the end of an era for Dinner Theater but also for the kind of acts that performed there.


If you have memories of The Latin Casino I'd love to hear them!


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