Jewish Community Center of the North Shore:

JBM Author Series With Debby Applegate

November 8, 2023 Marblehead $20.00
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Debby Applegate (Courtesy photo)

In roaring 1920s New York City, when the nightclubs closed down, the in-crowd didn’t go home. Everyone went to Polly’s place, the “speakeasy with a harem” run by “The Female Al Capone,” as the newspapers dubbed her. Polly “Pearl” Adler was a diminutive dynamo whose Manhattan brothels were more than oases of illicit sex; they were swinging salons where men paid top-dollar for the company of her girls and high society partied with the elite of showbiz, politics and organized crime. Polly’s pals—luminaries like Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Lucky Luciano, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Parker, Bugsy Siegel and Desi Arnaz—made the Jazz Age roar.

No one would’ve guessed that Pearl would become “the First Lady of the Underworld” when she arrived in America as a 13-year-old Russian Jewish immigrant. But Polly’s life became a topsy-turvy Horatio Alger tale, a childhood that could be a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a wild ghetto adolescence out of a Henry Roth novel, blossoming into a glittering epic of parties and power worthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Then Polly wrote her own ending, penning a memoir that shocked the squares of the 1950s and sold over 2 million copies.

In “Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age,” author Debby Applegate immerses the reader in Polly’s world and uses her rip-roaring life to unpack what made this era so corrupt, so glamorous and so transformational, showing how this riotous collision of high and low gave birth to modern American culture.

Debby Applegate will be interviewed by Shelley Sackett, attorney, freelance journalist and former editor of the Jewish Journal.

Entertaining us before the program will be North Shore keyboardist Mark Arnold, playing jazz music from the Great American Songbook.

This event includes a book signing and reception.

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Fact Sheet
Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jewish Community Center of the North Shore
4 Community Road
Marblehead, MA 01945

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