The original Beverly Hills Club was the brainchild of Pete Schmidt. Pete was no stranger to organized crime, in
fact, he was a former truck driver for George Remus, who was a boot-legger from Cincinnati. Pete had been
arrested with Remus, and upon release from prison, he bought a hotel on Monmouth Street in Newport, KY.
He named it the Glenn Hotel, after his son. Pete offered illegal alcohol and some slot machines as
entertainment for his patrons, but this hotel was used primarily as a hideout for organized criminals to avoid
indictments and arrests. It was here, that Pete got into some more trouble. During a raid by Treasury
Agents, Pete shot a federal officer, which netted him another 5 years in prison.
When Pete was released this time, he had much bigger plans for Newport. He envisioned a larger, more
elegant gambling venue, complete with good food and big name entertainment. In the early 1930’s Pete
purchased a former speakeasy, the Old Kaintuck Castle, which was three miles south of Newport, in
Southgate. Pete totally refurbished the building, and renamed it The Beverly Hills Club, (named after his
granddaughter), and opened it as Newport’s premier club in 1935. He soon expanded and renovated into a
lavish combination restaurant, circular bar, dance floor, and casino.
The Beverly Hills Club was a huge success for Schmidt, but with that success, came problems as well. One of
the early visitors to the club, was Moe Dalitz. Dalitz was one of the members of the Cleveland Four, one of
the strongest syndicates at the time. Dalitz liked what he saw at Beverly, and he believed it would be a
strong acquisition for the syndicate. Dalitz offered to buy the club from Schmidt, and bring him in as a partner,
but Schmidt wasn’t interested. Dalitz and the other members of the Cleveland Four were not used to being
refused, and this certainly did not bode well for Pete. In 1936, there was a fire at the Beverly Hills Club, which
destroyed the casino, as well as killed the niece of the caretaker.
The fire at The Beverly Hills Club was a mystery. There were reports of certain members of the syndicate as
well as their associates who were involved. Albert “Red” Masterson had bought several canisters of gasoline
the night of the fire, and another local man, Dave Whitfield, a friend of Masterson, provided refuge that same
night for Edwin Garrison, a veteran of Dutch Schultz’s New York gang, who had suffered burns to his hands
and legs. In the end, it was Whitfield who took the fall for the fire and the death of the young woman. He
was given a job as a casino manager in one of the Cleveland Four’s casinos when he was released from
Death and fire were no deterrents for Pete Schmidt. In April, 1937 he reopened the club, this time he called it
The Beverly Hills Country Club. The opening night party was attended by Governors and other politicians from
four states. Pete had decorated in a most opulent style. Crystal chandeliers, oak paneling, plush blue
carpets and gilded gold leaf patterned wallpaper, made the new Beverly Hills an even more elegant gambling
palace. Unfortunately for Pete, this would not be the end of his troubles with the Cleveland Syndicate.
In the summer of 1937, another harrowing experience occurred at The Beverly Hills Country Club. This time it
was a robbery, made by a group of armed men. Schmidt hired heavily armed guards, but he was continually
harassed. Pete, out of desperation, even attempted to approach an organized crime group from Toledo, as a
possible partner, and probably to provide him with some additional protection. Unfortunately, the Toledo
crime organization, did not want any possibility of a run in with Moe Dalitz or the other members of the
Cleveland Four. Pete finally gave in, and sold the Beverly Hills Country Club to the Cleveland Syndicate on
November 18, 1940. The Cleveland Four finally had their “carpet joint” in Newport. At this time the day to day
operations were run by Sam Tucker, Sammy Schraeder, John Croft.
Pete retired to the Glenn Hotel. (He would later open the Glenn Schmidt Rendezvous, and the Playtorium.)
The Cleveland Four ran the club in high style. They brought in the best Hollywood entertainment, and made
sure everyone had what they wanted. Rumor has it that Frank Sinatra, while entertaining himself between
shows, went to the casino, and lost $30,000 in one night.
As the years went by, the Newport clubs were finding it harder and harder to hide their illegal liquor sales and
gaming activities from the politicians. The Beverly Hills Country Club was a constant target for raids, which
meant the owners had to go to great lengths as well as expense, to ensure their investment remained intact.
They turned the club into a raid proof fort. They even went as far as installing a separate power plant, had
freezers filled with weeks worth of food, and even installed an electronic surveillance system.
By the 1960’s, the clubs in Newport were being cleaned up, and cleaned out of the city. The political scene
was getting harsher, and the clubs did not have the same attraction they did decades before. The Committee
of 500, a group of concerned citizens as well as U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy were putting their
energy into completely ridding Newport of all illegal activities. By the early 1960’s Newport had been
effectively “disinfected” of all illegal gambling. And by the late 1960’s even the illegal bingo halls that had
sprung up after the initial clean up, had been eliminated.
In December 1969, after Beverly Hills stood vacant for nearly a decade, the Schilling family took ownership of
the club and proceeded to upgrade the facility. In 1971 the Schillings opened the Beverly Hills Supper Club.
This became known as the “Showplace of the Nation”. The Schillings saw to it that their club provided the
best in entertainment as well as fine dining. This new plush entertainment complex quickly became the
favorite place to celebrate weddings, birthday parties, 50th wedding anniversaries, and especially prom and
graduation dinners. Dinner at Beverly Hills could, at times, be a listing of “who’s who” from the area.
The listing of entertainers was also second to none. Performers such as Liberace, The Everly Brothers, Steve
Laurence and Edie Gourmet and others were booked to perform at Beverly Hills.
Elaborate playbills were available at the restaurant, and even sent out to regular customers, to notify them of
upcoming events and performers.
On May 28, 1977 a tragic end came to the Beverly Hills Supper Club. The performer scheduled was John
Davidson. He was expected to play to a full house, and the evening concert was eagerly awaited. The
Cabaret Room, where John was scheduled to perform, was packed to more than double the official room
capacity. Right before the concert was to have begun, a waiter came to the microphone, and notified the
people that there was a small fire, and they needed to evacuate. Unfortunately for the majority of the
people, they did not heed the waiter, and stayed in their seats. The fire raged out of control, and soon, had
consumed the entire club. The fire took 165 of those patrons that night, and John Davidson never got to the
stage. The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, is one of the deadliest fires in U.S. History.
To this day, the site of the Beverly Hills Supper Club still stands vacant, with overgrown brush and weeds,
replacing the marble fountains and lush landscaping that once welcomed the patrons to the “Showplace of
|Beverly Hills Country Club
Special thanks to David Horn for his article on the Beverly Hills Country Club.
David Horn has a website (currently under construction) covering Gambling in
Northern Kentucky. Great articles and photos. We will post the link to his new
site as soon as it's available.