Friday, November 16, 2012

Mobster Wanted Philly Radio’s Jerry Blavat Whacked

Reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi vowed in 2009 to kill radio celebrity Jerry Blavat, a mob turncoat testified Tuesday.

According to a story by John P. Martin at, Ligambi was livid over a Philadelphia Magazine article about the mob and believed Blavat was behind it, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello said.

"He was ranting and raving, 'That [expletive] Jerry Blavat, he set this up. Jerry Blavat, I'm gonna kill this [expletive],' " Monacello testified.

There were no signs that the threat against Blavat, a longtime Philadelphia radio icon and owner of the Memories in Margate restaurant at the Shore, was more than hot air.

Blavat, known to fans as the Geator with the Heater, said the threat was news to him.

"I never heard it," he said Tuesday. "I grew up with these guys. I know Joe."

The detail emerged as Monacello resumed his role as a star witness in the racketeering trial of the 73-year-old Ligambi and six codefendants.

In 1953, Blavat debuted on the original Bandstand on WFIL-TV with Bob Horn and Lee Stewart. In 1956 he managed a national tour for Danny and the Juniors, and he worked as Don Rickles' valet in 1958-59. He got his start in radio in 1960. By 1963, his show was syndicated in Camden, Atlantic City, Trenton, Pottstown, Wilmington and Allentown.

From 1965-1967, Blavat produced and hosted a weekly television show called The Discophonic Scene. He also guest-starred on television shows including The Mod Squad, The Monkees, The Tonight Show and The Joey Bishop Show. He has also appeared in the movies Desperately Seeking Susan, Baby It's You and Cookie.  In 1972, Blavat purchased a nightclub in Margate, New Jersey, and named it "Memories."

In 1981, Blavat was having dinner at a South Philadelphia restaurant with Greek mob boss Chelsais "Steve" Bouras and several other guests when Bouras was shot dead in a contract killing.

In the early 1990s, an investigation by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation into organized crime's influence in the liquor business made public Blavat's association with the Bruno-Scarfo crime family. During the investigation, Thomas A. DelGiorno, a former Scarfo crime family Capo, testified that Blavat had regularly paid a "street tax" to the crime family, had purchased a $40,000 yacht for crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo and was one of several individuals who purchased a condominium in Florida for Scarfo. In exchange, the criminal organization secured employment for Blavat throughout the state and also kept union organizers out of Blavat's nightclub. Del Giorno also testified that Blavat regularly served as a driver for crime boss Angelo Bruno. Blavat pled the fifth.

In 1993, Blavat was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Hall of Fame.   In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as part of a permanent exhibit in its Museum of Radio and Records. In 2002, he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame."

On January 15, 2010, Blavat celebrated his 50th consecutive year on radio.

Blavat has been producing and hosting two oldies concerts a year at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia every year since January 2002.

In 2011, Blavat is a DJ for oldies radio station WVLT (FM) 92.1 in the South Jersey area, for the University of Pennsylvania's public radio station WXPN in Philadelphia, and for radio station WTKU-FM in Atlantic City.

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