From teenage jewelry seller to World War II soldier to Catskills comedy stringer to Brooklyn businessman, the Bayside resident in his 80s is again reinventing himself, this time as a memoirist.In his upcoming self-published book, 'Revelations of a Brazen Man,' Dinner writes of experiences "explosive, steaming, fearless," as he bills it on a promotional flier for his mostly biographical memoir.These raw and revealing experiences begin shortly after Dinner dropped out of City College, where he had been studying business administration as a precocious teenager from the Lower East Side."I quit because during the Depression I wasn't learning anything," Dinner said during a recent interview. "I set up a discount business, light jewelry manufacturing," where he sold wholesale jewelry for retail. "I sold Frank Sinatra his wedding ring. I was making more money than my father. I had all Broadway clients. Nobody could stop me," said Dinner, who lives in Lakeside Towers. To ensure the smooth flow of commerce, Dinner said he used the police and the Tammany Hall connections of his father, a prestigious men's tailor with a client list ranging from the mob to movie stars. But Dinner left his lucrative business to join the military in 1941."I enlisted right after Pearl Harbor," when he was 23, Dinner said. "And here's the comedy of it all. I enlisted, and two weeks later I came down with fallen arches so I couldn't walk. So I was excused from military training, and they put me in the salvage depot" where Dinner fixed soldiers' clothing and shoes, a station he said he did not enjoy. "This was a disgrace," he said. "I had a good background, a high IQ. So I told the doctor I was getting headaches from the dust in the depot." Through his craftiness, he was able to leave salvage depot duty soon afterwards and served the rest of his time in the Army helping to organize officers' entertainment.'Revelations of a Brazen Man' covers much ground after Dinner's Army days, from his brief stint as a champion ballroom dancer to a summer gig at a Catskills resort bolstering the comedy routines for the likes of Milton Berle and other Borscht Belt comics. Dinner also includes chapters on the Vatican, where he says he exposes corruption behind the St. Peter's Square gift shop, as well as a few pages on his psychic abilities to foresee death.Dinner spent the bulk of his professional career running a company that made and sold awards. Even in this field he had memorable experiences, such as when he met and befriended then-U.S. Sen. Richard Nixon during one industry trade show. This, too, is in the book.But while much of his life is portrayed in the memoir, Dinner maintains that the book is not completely autobiographical."The book is based largely on a true life story, so it's 75 percent nonfiction, 25 percent fiction," he said. "It's not a biography. It's entertaining, tough and rough."With so much controversy and success behind him, Dinner said he is hoping his memoir will take him to new heights of brazenness."I'm out to raise big bucks to get on TV and radio," he cheerfully admitted. "I've already booked some talk shows." Through more connections--a filmmaker nephew--Dinner is exploring a possible movie deal, perhaps the most appropriate memorialization of his explosive and fearless life.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.