The Latin Casino opened at 1309 Walnut Street in 1944. Its expansive basement room seated 500 people and hosted a constellation of stars, including Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Richard Pryor, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and Joey Bishop. It was Center City’s most sophisticated nightspot at the time.
Philadelphia Tribune columnist Alonzo Kittrels recalled:
Even if you never attended a show at the Latin Casino, I know its name brings to mind images of live entertainment. There were appearances by people such as Richard Pryor, the Temptations, Frank Sinatra and other members of the Rat Pack, Tom Jones, the Supremes and many other stars who made our evenings at this popular venue. The great R&B singer Jackie Wilson will always be associated with the Latin Casino because that was where he was stricken with a massive heart attack during a Dick Clark show. This happened while he was singing “Lonely Teardrops” and he never performed again.