Tropicana Nights

When Fidel Castro seized power in January, 1959, the era of spectacular Cuban nightclubs, with their casinos and lavish entertainment, came to a close. But during their heyday in the 1950's, these castles of adult entertainment flourished, and served as tourist magnets for American celebrities and well-heeled travelers worldwide.

Originally opened in 1939 on a luxurious 6-acre estate brimming with flowers and palm trees, the Tropicana became, under the ownership of Martin Fox a decade later, an incredibly successful business enterprise. Fox, a gambler and sharp operator whose underworld friends included Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante, parlayed an excellent resort into a great one. A cavalcade of the rich and famous partied at the Tropicana, from Marlon Brando to Ernest Hemingway.

Ofelia Fox, the widow of Martin Fox, now lives in California and here recalls those enchanting nights of glitz and celebration, providing a fascinating insider's story of how her husband's hard bargains and business acumen made the Tropicana a legend, producing huge revenues. Fox never rested on his laurels, and was constantly coming up with new business ideas. At one point he converted the estate's garages into low-end casinos where less-affluent locals, who couldn’t afford the main, upscale casino, could also gamble. He instituted the “Tropicana Special,” what would now be called a hotel-casino package, which included a sumptuous room at the Hotel...

(The entire section is 462 words.)