During the 1950’s and ’60s, Jack Silverman owned and operated Jack Silverman’s International Theatre Restaurant on Broadway and 52nd Street (sometimes promoted as on Broadway and 53rd Street) in New York City.
A native of Romania, Silverman (1886-1974) immigrated to New York as a boy. His first foray into professional work was in banking and then quilt manufacturing before embarking on a 40‐year career in the restaurant cabaret business. The restaurateur was a member, of The Friars. [Source: New York Times, 1974 obituary]
Silverman began his nightclub career with Jack Silverman’s Old Romanian restaurant at 169 Allen Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The place first featured an accordion player but later expanded its entertainment and added the Chrystal Lounge. Advertisements boasted, “Nationally known for its Sizzling MUSHK steaks and International Floor Show.”
When Silverman moved up to mid-town, he eventually changed the name to Jack Silverman’s International Theatre Restaurant. The International put on large productions with headliners, showgirls, novelty acts and comedians. It featured big names of the day such as Ted Lewis, Joey Adams, Sid Gould, Sophie Tucker, The Ritz Brothers and Myron Cohen. This venture advertised itself as, “Broadway’s largest and most beautiful nightclub.”
Bea Kalmus, a popular nightclub singer, actress and radio personality, was also known as Miss Show Business. Kalmus hosted her The Bea Kalmus Show from the club’s Celebrity Lounge for WMGM from midnight until 2:30A.M. Some credit Kalmus as one of the first women radio hosts in New York City. She competed with male contemporaries in the business such as Joe Franklin. Her format featured guest performer interviews, such as conversations with Ted Lewis and other headliners who were also performing at the nightclub, as well as drop-in guests promoting a new album, such as the Four Voices, and film and television actors.
Kalmus took her show to other venues too, in and outside of Manhattan, but was most known as a disc jockey for her time at Silverman’s. Other radio hosts enjoyed broadcasts from the lounge there as well.
To listen to a Bea Kalmus interview with composer Otis Blackwell from the Celebrity Lounge, visit Old Time Radio Downloads here.
Many touring productions came through Silverman’s. For example Frederic Apcar’s Vive Les Girls was brought in to Silverman’s, which originated at the Dunes Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. Vive Les Girls was staged and choreographed by Ron Lewis and the costumes were designed by José Luis Viñas. The club’s main competitors were Lou Walters’ World Famous Latin Quarter and the Copacabana. Many showgirls and dancers from these other venues, also joined productions at Silverman’s.