Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chez Show and the Copacabana

The Copacabana Lounge first opened November 10th, 1940. The club was located at 10 East 60th Street in NYC. The owner officially was Monte Proser but the club was in bed with mob boss Frank Costello. Costello installed Jules Podell as his man inside the business. Eventually Podell was the name on the lease.

Jack's broadcasting career began a decade earlier at WMCA-AM where he delivered a radio version of a Broadway gossip column he wrote for a New York theatrical publication. Variety claims a plug in an Ed Sullivan column landed him this gig.

But the Copa gig began in 1947. Eigen had a program on WHN cut a deal with Copa boss Jules Podell to do a radio program. It was to be broadcast live from The Copacabana Lounge, one of New York's busiest nightclubs. Podell made arrangements with 1010 WINS-AM to carry it. The whole program was done with 2 turntables, 2 microphones and 2 phone lines. The program ran midnight to four AM, seven days a week. It debuted April 22nd, 1947. Eigen's theme song was "Jack, Jack, Jack" performed by the five DeMarco Sisters. (Interesting to note that in 1944 the club had a no blacks policy, banning African-Americans from the venue and thus the radio show). More here. Fred Allen regularly mentioned Eigen on his broadcasts, adding to his reputation beyond Manhattan. More here.

The program ended in 1950. The Copa started a new show that diminished the role of the disc jockey. New Host Johnny McKnight started in October of 1950 and the new show "Meet me at the Copa" via WVNJ-AM in New Jersey. By Then WINS had backed out and Eigns program was on WMGM. n Chicago Eigen's did a program called "Chez Show" on 670 WMAQ-AM. It was love from the Chez Paree restaurant was was 30 minutes long and ran 6 nights a week. It was similar to his Copa program and began sometime in 1951. More here.

He worked a year in St. Louis radio. Then returned to Chicago in 1960 to resume The Jack Eigen Show on WMAQ. He stayed there until at least 1966. he relocated to Florida in 1971 where he continued to broadcast on local stations. I wish I could say witch ones. He died in Fort Lauderdale in1983. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn who started out as a pin setter in a bowling alley.