GV | ONLY IN NEW JERSEY
WITH STEVE ADUBATO
Steve Adubato, PhD., is an Emmy Award–winning anchor for Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJTV (PBS) who regularly appears on the Today Show, Fox 5
in New York and on many New York-based radio stations. His newest book, You Are the Brand, examines the brand strategies of more than 30 individuals
and companies. For more information log on to stand-deliver.com. Find Steve on Facebook at Facebook.com/SteveAdubatoPHD.
the middle of a controversy surrounding
the state’s most famous celebrity.
It started at the Golden Nugget in
Atlantic City, where Sinatra and Dean
Martin were scheduled to perform. The
two stars were in the casino playing
blackjack when Sinatra insisted he be
dealt his cards by hand instead of out of
the plastic “shoe”—as required by state
law. When the dealer refused, Sinatra
allegedly made an ethnic slur; the dealer
was of Asian descent. She ultimately
relented and dealt the cards by hand,
violating the rules.
The Golden Nugget was fined
$25,000 by the Casino Control Commission; its commissioner, Joel Jacobsen,
would later call Sinatra an “obnoxious
bully” for his behavior. In protest, Sinatra broke his contract with the Golden
Nugget, saying he would never again
perform in New Jersey if state officials
were going to treat him this way.
Incensed by the way Sinatra was treated, Uncle Mike decided to propose a resolution that New Jersey officially apologize
to the entertainer and ask him to return to
his home state. My father—himself a major
political force in the state—thought it was
a bad idea and told me to make sure Mike
didn’t bring it up in the Statehouse. My
father understood that many legislators
were exasperated by Sinatra’s behavior
and threatened to walk out if my uncle
presented the resolution.
Although Uncle Mike promised he’d
drop the idea, he eventually reneged.
Addressing the Assembly, he said the
members should call on Sinatra, “our native son, to return to New Jersey, the home
of your parents, Dolly and Marty Sinatra.
Frank, come back to your roots. Come
home to New Jersey. I love you.”
As feared, several legislators walked
out. Others protested loudly. I sat in the
Assembly chamber in fear and shock.
Ultimately, Uncle Mike withdrew the
resolution before a vote could be taken.
As for Sinatra, he didn’t seem to hold
a grudge. He returned to the Golden
Nugget the very next year, playing seven
shows from October 9 to 13, 1985. Just
part of the Sinatra lore in New Jersey. ;
Frank’s Blackjack Blowup
How an Adubato thrust himself into Sinatra’s notorious
brouhaha at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget.
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT Frank
Sinatra, who would have turned 100
this year. It’s not just his music, but his
public persona, his Jersey roots and his
glamorous life. Most of all, it’s the emotional connection that millions still have
with the skinny kid from Hoboken who
became a global icon.
In the Newark neighborhood where
I grew up, all the elders idolized Sinatra
and that other Italian-American icon,
Joe DiMaggio. They told stories about
Joe D. while we listened to Sinatra’s
music. My mother gossiped endlessly
about Sinatra’s relationship with her
favorite actress, Ava Gardner—the only
woman whom Sinatra couldn’t control
or possess, as my mom explained it.
I never met Sinatra, but he is part of my
family’s history. Let me share a little story,
which admittedly doesn’t testify to the
gracious and generous side of Sinatra, but
is part of his legend nonetheless.
My late uncle, Mike Adubato (my
father’s brother), had a passion for Sinatra. Uncle Mike had a great voice—he
wanted to be a singer—and performed
in clubs in our neighborhood. But Mike
moved on to other things and later
became a distinguished state assemblyman. In January 1984, I joined him in
the Assembly—the Legislature’s youngest member. No sooner had I taken my
seat than Uncle Mike thrust himself into
parties hearty in
Rat Pack pals
left, and Sammy
Davis Jr., 1961.
later, Sinatra ran
afoul of Jersey
when he and
Dino hit the
at the Golden