Leon & Eddie’s in N.Y. : Eddie Davis; Half Owner of Famed Club
Eddie Davis, half owner of New York City’s glamorous nightclub, Leon & Eddie’s, died Monday of heart failure at Plantation General Hospital here.
For 30 years, Leon & Eddie’s was a stellar attraction on New York’s “Swing Street,” a block of West 52nd Street just off 5th Avenue in Manhattan dominated by clubs that featured swing music. Signs today designate the block as “Swing Street.”
Davis, who also was a singer and entertainer, and his partner, Leon Enken, opened their club in 1928 with an investment of $700. The Prohibition-era speak-easy seated up to 30 customers in a converted house once occupied by statesman Bernard Baruch.
In 1933 , after the end of Prohibition, they moved a few doors away, next to the posh “21 Club,” to new quarters with a retractable roof, rising stage and room for 475 customers.
The club’s Sunday night celebrity parties attracted a large clientele of show business celebrities, such as George Jessel, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Helen Morgan, Jackie Gleason, Marie McDonald and Eydie Gorme.
One of the club’s first managers and bouncers was Toots Shor, who one day would open a restaurant at the same spot after Leon & Eddie’s closed.
“The WPA Guide to New York,” published in 1939, noted the cluster of nightclubs on the street, adding that “Out-of-towners favor Leon & Eddie’s, where Eddie packs them in with his shady ballads.”
Enken sold his share of the club to Davis in 1947. It closed in 1958 when Davis retired to Fort Lauderdale. Enken died about 20 years ago.