Sports

 
 
 
 
 
 

   Earl's Celebrity Contacts    Included:
   - Tony Bennet
   - Edwin R. Morrow
   - Barbara Walters
   - Dolly Parton
   - Buddy Rogers
   - Barry White
   - Eli Wallach

   Sports Celebrities:
   - Richard Dent
   - Bill George
   - Bart Starr
   - Paul Hornung
   - Carmen Sorvino
   - Bronco Nagurski
   - Phil Rizutto

   - Joe Garagiola
   - Casey Stengle
   - Jeremy Roenick
   - Moose Skowron

   Political Celebrities:
   - President Gerald Ford
   - Candidate John F.
     Kennedy
   - Candidate Ronald
     Reagan
   - Senator Robert Dole
   - Senator Paul Douglas
   - Senator Charles Percy
   - Senator Alan Dixon
   - Senator Paul Simon
   - Gov. Richard Ogilve
   - Gov. Adlai Stevenson

   - Gov. William Stranton
   - Gov. Tom Walker
   - Gov. James Thompson
   - Gov. Otto Koerner
   - Gov. James Edgar
   - Secretary of State
     Paul Powell

   Earl's Mentors:
   - Tony Disantis (Owner
     of Drury Lane Theatres)
   - John Yonely -Entertainer
   - Freddy Williamson
     (VP of ABC)
   - Joe Glaser (Owner of
     Assoc. Booking Corp.)

 

   Black and white photos
   by Joliet's Reynold Rossi.
   Photos from Earl's
   personal archives.

   Color photo of Earl
   © 2010 Bullet Comm's.

Earl D'Amico   Restauranteur / Impresario

Entertainment provided
by D'Amico's 214
between the years of
1961 and 1979
*multiple bookings

J a z z  C o n c e r t s
Louis Armstrong*
Duke Ellington*
Count Basie*
Al Hirt*
Pete Fountain*
The Dukes of
   Dixieland*
Guy Lombardo*
Stan Kenton
Dave Brubeck
Boots Randolph
Victor Borga
Ramsey Lewis
Ike & Tina Turner
Myron Floran
Phyllis Diller
Julie London*
Frank Sinatra, Jr.
Chubby Checkers
Wayne King
Sam the Sham and
   the Pharoahs
Liberace
Freda Payne
George Shearing
Sy Zentner

P i c c o l o
P l a y h o u s e

S t a r s
Mr. and Mrs. Pat
   O'Brien
Rosemary Prinz
Susan Oliver
Tab Hunter
Eddie Bracken
Joe E. Ross
Louis Nye
Spring Byington
Andy Devine
David Nelson
June Blair
Marie Wilson
Eileen Fulton
Vivian Blaine
Jack Ging
Margaret Truman
Tom Poston
Betty Ann Grove
Margaret O'Brien
Pat Carroll
Forest Tucker
Michael Renee
Imogene Coca
Bobby Balaban
Brenda Arquette

Earl D’Amico was born in Joliet, IL on October 29, 1929, the day known as black Tuesday, the day the Great Depression started. Earl attended Park School and F.E. Marsh grade schools and then went to Joliet Township High School. Following high school, Earl enrolled at Purdue University and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business. After college Earl enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) special agent for two years while stationed in New York City.

After the army, Earl married and he and his wife Nora lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he worked as a civilian in the U.S. army. In 1955, Earl received a call from his parents Tony and Clara, asking him to return to Joliet to help with 'D'Amico's', the growing family restaurant business. That experience sparked Earl’s passion for the restaurant business. In 1957, Earl heard that the Harwood Post American Legion building (now the Renaissance Center) in downtown Joliet was for sale. He quickly saw the potential to turn the building into an upscale restaurant/banquet/entertainment facility. With his brother Anthony, who was Earl's partner throughout his restaurant career, Earl purchased the building for $105,000 and called their new establishment D’Amico’s 214.

After the new restaurant/catering business was flourishing, Earl expanded his operation to include live concerts and theatre productions in the grand ballroom. Local entertainer John Yonely introduced Earl to the New York based Associated Booking Corp. (ABC) which enabled Earl to bring in top national talent to perform at his local entertainment venue. ABC supplied Earl with big bands and musical stars such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tina Turner and even Liberace!


Louis Armstrong was Earl's first big name entertainer!


Pete Fountain as photographed by Joliet's Reynold Rossi

Earl also produced live theatre in the ballroom under the name Piccolo Playhouse. Again, he was successful in attracting some of the biggest names in the entertainment world to perform in his theatre productions.
Stars such as Rosemary Prinz (Penny from As the World Turns), Tab Hunter, Louis Nye, Forest Tucker and Imogene Coca graced the stage at the Piccolo Playhouse.


Rosemary Prinz performing at the intimate Piccolo Playhouse


Phyllis Diller performing at the Piccolo Playhouse

Stars would come to Joliet for a total of three weeks. Week one was spent rehearsing before a two-week run of their show. Theatre productions could hold 740 people and live concerts had around 1,000 people in the audience, and events were almost always sold out!

Because Earl had star performers coming into Joliet so frequently to perform at his club, he decided to build a hotel to accommodate them and his patrons. Earl built the 122-room Sheraton Hotel, which was connected to his establishment.


For over 18 years, D’Amico’s 214 played host to satisfied diners, appreciative stars and thrilled audiences.

In 1978, two new shopping malls opened on the West side of Joliet, creating a new 'city center' for local business. Many downtown businesses began relocating their businesses on the West side of town.

At this time Earl decided to get out of the hotel businesss and he moved his dining/entertainment establishment to West Jefferson street and renamed his new cozy restaurant/bar Earl’s Café. He retained the great food, atmosphere and live entertainment, although now on a smaller, more intimate scale.


Duke Ellington and Earl


Earl and Margart Truman, actress, and daughter of President Harry S. Truman

From 1970 to 1974 Earl also made time to further serve his community as a proud member of the Joliet City Council. During Earl’s business career, he supported many local charitable organizations and he was fortunate to meet many celebrities as well as dignitaries such as Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bart Starr, Mike Ditka, Ronald Reagan, and incumbant President Gerald Ford even stayed at his Sheraton Hotel when he was in town campaigning for the presidency.


Eddie Bracken (top right) performing at the Piccolo Playhouse in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"


Earl with Tab Hunter


Earl finally retired in 1998, when he sold his business. Since retiring, Earl has enjoyed spending time with his two daughters and grandson and granddaughter.