George A. Hamid Jr., 1918-2013
The death of George A. Hamid Jr., 94, a former owner of the Steel Pier, on Saturday, Feb. 23, brings to an official close the end of an era in entertainment that influenced me tremendously.
Hamid and his father George Sr., operated the Steel Pier for 30 years, building a family-entertainment business that blended top entertainers, big bands, circus acts and amusement-park rides to Atlantic City. Decades before the casinos came to town, Steel Pier and a thriving nightclub scene provided a showcase for big name entertainers.
Hamid brought Frank Sinatra to town and the Beatles to Boardwalk Hall (then known as Convention Hall) as well as many other major performers from the era from the 1950s to the 1970s.
I saw a lot of those entertainers because my father, local sportswriter Harry Hoffman, picked up some money on the side by doing publicity for the Steel Pier when I was growing up in Ventnor. My dad and mom would take us to the back entrance (we got in free) and we would spend hours watching the performers in the Music Hall or the Ballroom or a movie or the circus acts and the diving horse at the far end of the pier.
For an extra 25-cents you could sit in the front 25 rows of the Music Hall and I remember using my allowance to do just that to see the Supremes, 14-year-old “Little” Stevie Wonder, The Four Seasons and other acts. I remember sitting through the King Family singers twice, just so my brothers and I could see the Beatles in Help, the movie that followed the live performance.
I also remember my brother Bruce freeze totally when dad introduced us to Don Adams, star of Get Smart (who was booked at the pier), telling him Bruce was the funny one in the family. I froze too and I didn’t have that pressure on me.
With the death of George Hamid, Jr., an era that shaped my life has lost its final champion.
Friends may call at 2:30pm on Monday, April 1 at the Jeffries & Keates Funeral Home, Tilton Road and Infield Ave., Northfield. Memorial services begin at 3pm. Memorial donations may be made to the John Davis 3d Memorial Scholarship Fund, and mailed to the funeral home.