Take a look at this list of previous performers that took the stage at the Legendary Steel Pier back in the day, you won’t believe the names. Have you ever wondered who performed at the Steel Pier in it’s heyday? How about, was it prestigious to perform there live?It was always known as the”Showplace of the Nation”, the history of entertainers is vast and performers and fans lucky enough to take part in the historic run on stages of the Marina Ballroom is incredible. The seaside attraction and entertainment venue offered an entire days of amusement for one low price and it was once billed as the as we referenced above as the showplace of the nation. The types of events included concerts, attractions, strang acts and films. In fact, The Steel Pier is credited with increasing the popularity of big bands and many of these bands began their careers at the Pier. There were four unique theatres in use and up 12,000 people could watch a performance at a time.
The original set up opened in 1898 and cost $350,000 to build. Annie Oakley was the first act to perform there and its glory days were from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.
The musical performers that pleased crowds during it’s heyday were diverse and well known. The acts of the day who performed live at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, according to Historian Steve Liebowitz included:
- Bob Hope, Marilynn Monroe, Ed Sullivan, The Three Stooges, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra, Mae West, John Philip Sousa, Charlie Chaplin, Jimmy Durante, Annette Funicello, The Rolling Stones, Guy Lombardo, Gary Lewis And The Playboys, Benny Goodman, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Amos ‘n Andy, Dinah Shore, W.C. Fields, Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, The Allman Brothers, Beach Boys, Helen Reddy, Canned Heat, Byrds, Bill Haley & The Comets, Miss America, Astrud Gilberto, and the Beatles in 1964 to name a few.
In addition to big names, popular dance shows like “Summertime at the Pier” hosted by Ed Hurst was a pre curser to the bigger show hosted by another big name in show business Dick Clark. Did you jnow that hosted the first national broadcast of “American Bandstand” in 1957 at the Starlight Ballroom in Wildwood as competition to Ed Hursts show. There were all kinds of other shows of this nature over the years including the Real Bandstand televised live from the Marine Ballroom.
The Miss America Pageant was saved by one of the owners who agreed to host the event in one of the ballrooms. George Hamid who was an amazing tumbler for the Buffalo Bill Circus assisted the owners to highlight special performances that made the Pier legendary. He located acts such as The Human Cannonball, Alvin Kelly who set a world record for pole sitting and he was responsible for the Diving Horse. The Diving Horse was an act where a horse dove off a 40 – 60 foot foot platform into a pool with an attractive female rider. In 1983 a fire closed the Pier down; fortunately it was reopened in 1993 with new amusements. It was recently owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts – Atlantic City Hotels, Inc., but recent was sold to the Catanoso family, which has leased the pier since 1993 and is still a popular family attraction open seasonally. The new owners have revealed big plans and phase one of three is already complete. One day, not too far off, you will see live muical entertainment that will wow audiences as it did in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s.