Not easy to pull the wool over ‘Jamup’s’ eyes!

Mar 20, 2001 5:42 AM

FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW! And it shows. About 80 relatives and friends came calling — very quietly — to surprise Allan "Jamup" Hirschorn on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

His daughter, Amanda Hirschorn, bless her heart, came up with the idea. What a marvelous job she and the attendees did in keeping it a secret. Things of this nature just don’t get by the affable casino executive who knows nearly everyone in the business. Amanda spent more than three months staging the party.

"Believe me," explained Dean Harrold, "Jamup" was caught off guard. It was a sight for sore eyes when he arrived at the Aladdin’s P.F. Chang’s. None of us had ever seen Allan at a loss for words," Harrold continued.

Allan has been on the Las Vegas casino scene since 1961 when Jackie Gaughan put him to work as a dealer at the El Cortez. On his ride up the escalator, Allan had stints in Antigua, the Bahamas, Caesars Palace and — for the last 11 years — The Mirage and Bellagio. Somewhere along the way, casino people discovered that Allan had winning ways among players. He is a favorite host of the rich and famous. Some of his admirers include the late Shah of Iran, the late Frank Sinatra, Sharon Stone, Shaquille O’Neal, George Hamilton, Dorothy Bush, who is a daughter of former President George Bush, two of the three sons of former President Gerald Ford, Tom Cruise, Julio Iglesias, Bruce Willis and The Judds.

I didn’t make it to the party. But I was on the phone over the weekend talking to some of the attendees. Their names read like a Who’s Who in the Valley of Dollars.

I hear Jackie Gaughan, a long-time "Jamup" friend, was not only among the first to RSVP, he was also the first to show up. The way I hear it, Jackie got there early and played MegaBucks waiting for others to show.

"When I walked into the party," Allan told me, "I spotted Jackie Gaughan — the legendary Jackie Gaughan! I choked up with emotion. Jackie had made it all begin for me. And there he was, a busy octogenarian coming to wish me a happy birthday. It doesn’t get any better than that!"

"Jamup" was choking up again with emotion. It was time for a little comedy relief.

I asked him how he got his nickname. The question broke the mellow mood. He got all bubbly when he explained that it was the late David Goldstein who hung the handle on him nearly 40 years ago and it stuck.

"I was working as a bartender at the old Castaways. One night David gave me a $50 tip.

"I said to him, ‘you’re jam up.’ He replied, ‘Not me. You’re ‘Jamup.’ The name stuck and has been with me ever since."

It was also at the Castaways, while pouring drinks, that "Jamup’s" personality began to blossom.

"Jimmy Newman and Bucky Howard, a pair of casino icons, would often duck in for a belt on their way home. They were real George. What a life. It’s been a marvelous life."

"Jamup’s" wife and best friend of 31 years, Patricia, led the family brigade. Also, his son, Robert, his mother, Sylvia, 83; a sister, Cindy — all answered Amanda’s call.

"Jamup" is part of a vanishing breed of Las Vegans who made this city what it is today. Although his duties as an executive casino host put him in a suit every day, make no mistake. "Jamup" is not an empty suit. He is 18-carat. Charm, character, integrity is what keep the players coming back.

Perhaps "Jamup’s" favorite quote says it all.

"I never met a stranger!"

Happy Birthday, "Jamup."