P

Sarasota, Florida

Cover Illustrations by Steve Weaver

Cover design by Osprey Design Systems

James P. Goss

Pineapple Press, Inc.

Culture Florida

op Culture Florida takes a behind-the-scenes look at some of the
people and events that have played a part in the pop history of the
Sunshine State from 1945 to the present. This book provides a factual,
fun, sometimes funny overview of the high-living movers and shakers, the
lowly scam artists and criminals, and the just plain colorful folks who have
made Florida one of the world’s top vacation destinations, home to millions
of people from everywhere else but here, and a collection bin of some
unique pop culture.
Discover little-known facts about some of Florida’s most famous
residents, visitors, and events:
- Why Gypsy Rose Lee’s performance in a Florida club was her last.
- How Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus eagled and bogeyed their way
across the state.
- Why Yoko Ono and John Travolta sold their Florida digs, and why
Sylvester Stallone, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jimmy Buffett are staying put.
- What brought famous writers Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac,
John D. MacDonald, and Hunter S. Thompson to Florida’s sunny shores.
- Why Gulf Breeze is a good place to spot a UFO and
Ochopee is where to catch a glimpse (and a whiff) of
the Everglades’ Skunk Ape.

Pineapple
Press, Inc.

Pop
Culture
Florida
J a m e s P. G o s s

Pineapple Press, Inc.
Sarasota, Florida

Copyright © 2000 by James P. Goss
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Inquiries should be addressed to:
Pineapple Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 3899
Sarasota, Florida 34230
www.pineapplepress.com.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Goss, James P.
Pop culture Florida / by James P. Goss.
p.
cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 1-56164-199-5 (alk. paper)
1. Florida-Civilization-20th century-Miscellanea. 2. Florida-Social life and customs-20th
century-Miscellanea. 3. Popular culture-Florida-History-20th century-Miscellanea. 4.
Florida-Biography-Miscellanea. I. Title.
F316.2.G67 2000
975.9’06-dc21

First Edition
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Design by Osprey Design Systems
Printed and bound by

99-052922

For M. H. G. and for the young and the curious

Acknowledgments

P

op Culture Florida owes its existence to my wife, Virginia, who
assisted in developing the concept for the book and then lent her
time, energy, and expertise toward its completion. Her editorial
sense improved Pop Culture Florida immeasurably.
Special thanks to Jason Clark, Premiere Magazine; Rachel Berger, Boca
Raton magazine; the helpful staff at the Boca Raton Public Library;
Merrilyn Rathbun, Ft. Lauderdale Historical Society; Dr. Nick Wynne,
Tebeau-Field Research Library of the Florida Historical Society; Henry
Cabbage, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Frank
Reddish, Dade County Officer of Emergency Management; Kristin HamreGaspari, Historical Society of Palm Beach County; Patricia Roberson, Jody
Norman, and Joan Morris of the Florida State Archives; Linda Murchison,
Northwest Florida Daily News; Linda Kinsey, Wakulla News; Michelle and
Monique, Florida Film Commission; Lisa Addy, Metro Orlando Film and
Television Office; Jude Hagen, Ocala/Marion County Film Commission;
the research staff at the Orlando Public Library; and Sara Van Arsdel and
Cynthia Cardona, Orange County Historical Society.
I am also grateful for the generous assistance provided by Mel and
Dolores Fisher, Eugene Lyon, and Judy Gracer at the Mel Fisher

Acknowledgments

v

Maritime Museum. Thanks also to Wendy Tucker; Jeanne-Claude and
Christo; and Hugo Vihlen. My thanks also to Carlos, Ocean Drive
Magazine; Linda Bowles, Architectural Digest; Dawn Hugh, Historical
Museum of South Florida; Barbara Young, Miami-Dade Public Library;
Judi Smith and Anabelle deGale, Miami Herald; Jim DiPaola and Tao
Woolfe, Sun-Sentinel; Lucinda Colee, Volusia County Public Library;
Barbara Buttleman, Daytona Beach News-Journal; Joe Pais, Key West Art
and Historical Society; Linda Briscoe, University of Texas; Gloria Jones
and Dr. Foster, Florida A&M University; Joyce Dewsbury, University of
Florida; Professor Don Curl, Florida Atlantic University; Margaret
Persinger, Kennedy Space Center; Judy Thompson, National Golf
Foundation; Robert Hittel, Hittel’s Books in Ft. Lauderdale; and everyone
at Printco.
To the people at Pineapple Press, June and David Cussen and Kris
Rowland, thanks for listening and for giving me the opportunity to
publish this, my first book.

Table of Contents
Introduction xi
Florida’s Famous Faces
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley
Jazz Musician and Mentor 2
Dave Barry for President! 3
Pat Boone
White Bucks, Black Leather? 4
Edna Buchanan
Darkness in Paradise 5
Sidebar: Miami Books 6
Jimmy Buffett
Original Coral Reefer 7
Ted Bundy
A Serial Killer’s End 9
Michael Caine
A “Smashing” South Beach Life 11

Contents

Al Capone and Family
At Home in Miami 11
Ray Charles
The Florida Days of Brother Ray 13
Eric Clapton
When “Layla” Came to Town 15
Harry Crews in Gainesville 15
Faye Dunaway
Southern Woman 17
Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap
Read My Book 18
Gloria Estefan
Cuban-Born Diva 20
Chris Evert
A Tennis Classic 21
Mel Fisher
Treasure Hunter 23
Andy Garcia
From Miami (via Havana) to Hollywood 25
Jackie Gleason and His
American Scene Magazine 26
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies–1990s 27
Bobby Goldsboro
Pop Poster Boy 30
Debbie Harry
Punk Blonde 31
Carl Hiaasen
Welcome to Florida, Now Go Home 31
Wayne Huizenga
Like Nobody’s Business 33
K.C. and the Sunshine Band
Doin’ That Disco Thing 35
The Kennedys
The Usual Suspects 36
Jack Kerouac
Martyred in St. Petersburg 37
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies–1960s 39
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Imagine Palm Beach 40
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Jacksonville’s Southern Rockers 42

vii

viii

Pop Culture Florida

John D. MacDonald
Florida’s Most Prolific Writer 42
Madonna
Our Lady of the La-Z-Boy? 44
Bob Martinez
Drug Czar 45
Jim Morrison
Melbourne Messiah? Parisian Poet? 46
Jack Nicklaus
World’s Top Golfer 47
Shaquille O’Neal
Big Man on Water 49
Arnold Palmer
One for the Ages 50
Tom Petty
Gainesville’s Rock Giant 52
Roxanne Pulitzer
What’s in a Name? 53
Burt Reynolds
Centerfold 54
Pete Rose
Out of the Park 56
Mickey Rourke
Tough Guy 57
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies-1970s 59
Don Shula
Integrity to Spare 60
Wesley Snipes
At Home in Florida 61
Sylvester Stallone’s Miami Digs 62
Niki Taylor
Cover Girl Extraordinaire 63
Hunter S. Thompson
The Airman at Eglin 64
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies–1950s 67
John Travolta
On the Fly 68
Donald Trump and Mar-A-Lago 69
Tennessee Williams in Key West 71
Aileen Wuornos
America’s First Female Serial Killer? 73

Contents

Florida’s Pop Places, Other Faces and Happenings
007’s Car Stolen! 76
2 Live Crew 76
Alligator Wresting 77
Sidebar: About Alligators 78
Early Allman Brothers in Florida 78
Hurricane Andrew 79
Jim Bakker in Clearwater 81
The Beatles in Miami 83
Big Sugar
Grift to the Max 84
Bike Week
Awesome Business 86
Bingo 87
Bomber Squadron Flight 19 Disappears 88
Cassius Clay v. Sonny Liston 89
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies–1940s 90
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Surrounded Islands 92
The Everglades’ “Skunk Ape” 94
Fontainebleau 95
Gulf Breeze UFO Sightings 96
Gypsy Rose Lee
Where Are You? 97
Hollywood East 98
Hot Dog Girls 99
The King Rocks the Gator Bowl 100
Miami Vice 101
The National Enquirer 102
Sidebar: Florida-Made Movies–1980s 103
Noriega
In Florida’s Deep Freeze Now 104
Old Joe Murdered 105
Old Sparky 106
Project Mercury and Florida’s Cape Canaveral
Gateway to Outer Space 107
Rally for Decency 110
Reedy Creek
The Lesser-Known Disney 110
The Legend of Sam and Dave 112
South Beach
From Old Folks to American Mediterranean 113

ix

x

Pop Culture Florida

Spring Break 115
The Tragedy Museum Sells Out 117
Versace and Casa Casuarina 118
Sidebar: Andrew Cunanan, Versace’s Killer 119
Hugo Vihlen
Big Adventure, Small Boat(s) 120
Walking Catfish 123
The Trail of Watergate Money in Florida 124
Sources 127
Index 147

Introduction

I

n American popular culture, we select our society’s good guys and
bad guys, our “white hats” and “black hats,” from the television, from
magazines and newspapers, and from the flashy screens of our
computers. American mythology, like our democracy, is an equal opportunity employer.
In the era of a global economy and a shrinking American frontier, we
have at our disposal an endless supply of information, popular icons, and
diversions. Our cup runneth over with information on celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and everyday folk. Sometimes our brains become so
saturated that we have trouble deciding what to think about all of it.
Pop culture—by definition, the information traditionally inhabiting
the margins of our vision, somewhere off the mainstream on the darkened back streets of our awareness—has, since the end of World War II,
grown exponentially in popularity. Its consumption defines our gross
national product and has become America’s top export business.
Television, movies, sports, music, politics, business—all are grist for the
pop culture mill. Our media carries the pop culture message worldxi

xii

Pop Culture Florida

wide—what we see is usually exactly what we get. The pop culture circus
has come to town, and everyone seems intent on joining it.
Pop Culture Florida takes a behind-the-scenes look at some of the
people and events that have played a part in the pop history of the
Sunshine State from 1945 to the present. The book provides a factual,
fun, sometimes funny overview of the faces and places—the high-living
movers and shakers and the lowly scam artists and criminals, as well as
the just plain colorful—that make Florida one of the world’s top vacation
destinations, home to millions of people from everywhere else but here,
and home to some unique pop culture. Like a collection of picture postcards, Pop Culture Florida provides a glimpse through the rearview mirror
at some of Florida’s happenings and characters.
As a long-time Floridian and pop history buff, I decided to write Pop
Culture Florida to share some of my favorite, less-often-told stories from
Florida’s recent past. The “stories behind the stories” have always
intrigued me. Here, I’ve attempted to illuminate some of Florida’s most
fascinating pop anecdotes, fleshing out Florida history to include what
has been overlooked as unimportant or of questionable taste. These days,
most Americans will probably join me in my enjoyment of celebrating
the kitsch as well as high art in a state as rich in pop culture as it is abundant in sunshine.

Florida’s
Famous Faces

2

Pop Culture Florida

Julian “Cannonball” Adderley
Jazz Musician and Mentor

A

lto and soprano saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley was
born in Tampa in 1928. His nickname is a corruption of
“Cannibal,” a tribute to his voracious childhood appetite.
Attending high school in Tampa, Adderley, encouraged by the band’s
music director, played trumpet and later formed his own jazz band. After
graduating from high school, Adderley moved to Tallahassee, where he
attended Florida A & M University (1944–1948). After college, Adderley
became the music director for Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale.
In 1950 Adderley joined the Army, leading the 36th Army Dance Band
until 1952, when he was discharged. On a trip to New York in 1955,
Adderley debuted at Cafe Bohemia with bassist Oscar Pettiford’s band.
His performance led to good
notices and an extended
engagement. Adderley then
signed a record contract with
the EmArcy label, garnering
his first “new star” award in
1956.
In 1957 Adderley joined
Miles Davis’ acclaimed
group. Cannonball’s formidable talents glistened alongside jazz legends Davis, John
Coltrane, and Bill Evans. By
1962, Cannonball dominated the jazz music scene.
His 1967 recording “Mercy,
Mercy, Mercy” proved to be
one of the best-selling jazz
recordings in history. The hit
song lent him pop-crossover
appeal with rock audiences
and the opportunity to play
music to audiences underexposed to jazz.
A Florida A & M Uni- Julian “Cannonball” Adderley: the saxoversity Hall of Fame member, phonist at play (Florida State Archives)

Florida’s Famous Faces

3

Cannonball Adderley died on August 8, 1975. The famed Florida saxophonist will long be remembered for championing jazz music and for
mentoring generations of musical artists throughout the world.

Dave Barry for President!

P

ulitzer Prize–winning columnist and perennial adolescent Dave
Barry began his career in Armonk, New York, where he was elected
“class clown” at Pleasantville High School in 1965. One of his early
writing jobs was for a consulting firm that helped businesspeople learn
how to write better. Eight years of trying to persuade business types to
drop phrases such as “Enclosed please find the enclosed enclosure” was
an exercise in futility, so Barry got a job at the Miami Herald, where he
has worked since 1983.
In spite of his endless barbs and silly stories about life in the Sunshine
State, Barry loves south Florida and very seldom thinks about moving.
He likes the easygoing, laid-back, and fun-loving lifestyle: “It’s one of
those rare environments where it’s extremely cosmopolitan, by which I
mean there are more calibers of
weaponry available cheap here
than anyplace else in the United
States. . . . I just like the weirdness level here, which is
extremely high.”
Barry’s Herald column runs
once a week and is syndicated to
over three hundred newspapers
across the country. “I don’t really
think of myself as a writer so
much as a person who uses
writing to entertain,” Barry says.
And like any satirist, his absurdo-meter is always tuned in to
what most humans refer to as
“real life.”
Barry is the author of more
than twenty books, most bestAmerica’s funnyman, Dave Barry sellers. He makes his home in
(Miami Herald Publishing Co.) Coral Gables, where he lives

4

Pop Culture Florida

quietly with his wife and son. “I don’t want to be a celebrity,” Barry
claims. However, Florida’s funniest columnist does have some ideas
about what he would do if he were to be elected president of the United
States: “I’d probably build the White House in the Bahamas. . . . It would
be a Stealth White House. And it would be illegal for people to come
visit. . . . I think I would also want a bigger plane and a presidential boat
named the Heidi-Ho or something—one of those boats with all the
engines in the back so nobody could keep up with it. A big, fast boat.
There would also be a guy always following me around with a briefcase
containing frozen daiquiris at all times handcuffed to his wrists.”

Pat Boone
White Bucks, Black Leather?

A

descendant of the legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone, singer
Charles Eugene (Pat) Boone was born in Jacksonville in 1934.
After graduating from high school in Nashville, Tennessee, Pat
married Shirley Foley, daughter of country-and-western star Red Foley.
The couple moved to Texas in the early ’50s, where Pat attended college
at North Texas State. He entered a local talent show, which earned him
an appearance on the Ted
Mack Amateur Hour. Later,
Pat became a regular on
another popular show,
Arthur Godfrey’s Talent
Scouts.
Pat Boone’s first single for
Dot Records, “Two Hearts,
Two Kisses,” was released in
February 1955. His cover of
Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a
Shame” followed later that
year, hitting number one.
For the remainder of the
1950s and into the early
1960s, Pat Boone was one of
America’s favorite performers. He had his own TV
show, The Pat Boone Chevy Pat Boone, Jacksonville-born crooner
Showroom
(1957–1960). (Florida State Archives)

Florida’s Famous Faces

5

White buck shoes—Boone’s signature fashion accessory—became all the
rage. In 1957, when he appeared in two movies, Bernadine and April
Love, one reviewer sized up Boone’s public appeal: “Meet a singing
teenage idol—a sunny, clean-cut youth of manly mien and fine voice—
with a real screen future. . . . ” Over the next thirteen years, Boone’s film
career included other onscreen performances: Journey to the Center of the
Earth (1959), Goodbye Charlie (1964), and The Cross and the Switchblade
(1970).
When she was twenty-one, Pat and Shirley’s daughter, Debby Boone,
had a hit of her own. In 1977 her song “You Light Up My Life” was
number one on the charts for ten weeks.
In 1997 Pat Boone made a career move that puzzled long-time fans. At
age 62, he released the album Pat Boone in a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice
Guy. The album featured songs like Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”
arranged for big band. The former clean-cut teen heartthrob again found
a youthful audience, and the album broke into the top ten on Rolling Stone
Magazine’s alternative album chart. However, when Boone showed up at
the American Music Awards in leather, tattoos, and an earring, the appearance cost him his weekly cable TV show, Gospel America.
“I was harshly critical of music I never listened to, people I’d never
met,” the famous Florida-born pop singer told an interviewer in reference to his new identity. “Now I’ve met these people, and I’m finding
these are fine human beings.”

Edna Buchanan
Darkness in Paradise

I

t was the night of a full moon over Miami; the shooting started early.”
This is typical of the famous hard-boiled leads for the gruesome
stories covered by ace crime reporter Edna Buchanan. Steeped in the
peculiar lives that stain every big city’s violent-crime blotter, Buchanan is
a well-known fixture in Miami, all too familiar to the cops and criminals
she writes about. She admits that her relationship with the police “has
always been schizophrenic.” She was once thrown out of the homicide
division for trying to get a story, only to find herself invited back: “I
thought they must have solved the case and wanted to tell me about it.
Or they needed help or something. So I went up there and it was my
birthday and they had a birthday cake and candles and they sang ‘Happy
Birthday.’ It was astonishing.”
A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of popular crime

6

Pop Culture Florida

books and novels, Buchanan is at home on the job. She explains her love
for the cop beat this way: “It’s got it all— greed, sex, comedy, tragedy.
Police reporters have their fingers on the pulse beat of the county.”
Edna Buchanan arrived in Miami in 1962 via Patterson, New Jersey, at
once sensing her destiny in the seaside metropolis: “It was like I was a
displaced person where I’d grown up all my life. . . . Coming here was
like leaving this gritty black and white newsreel and stepping into
Technicolor. . . . Even in nineteen sixty-two, when it was this sleepy little
resort city and the crime rate was relaMiami Books
tively low, what you had was still bizarre.”
The following list includes
At first, Buchanan covered local polijust some of the books that
tics, society functions, and celebrity
have the word “Miami” in the
stories for the now-defunct Miami Beach
title:
Sun. She then signed up as a police
reporter with the Miami Herald in 1973.
Miami by Pat Booth
Since
1988, Buchanan has officially been
Miami by Joan Didion
“on
leave”
from the Herald, devoting her
Miami by Evelyn W.
energies to writing crime fiction,
Mayerson
including The Corpse Had a Familiar Face
Miami by Nicholas Selby
(1987), Nobody Lives Forever (1990), and
Miami Beach by Isaac B.
Miami, It’s Murder (1994).
Singer and Gary L.
Unsavory and dangerous criminals and
Monroe
their
crimes are Edna Buchanan’s stockMiami Savvy by Barbara
in-trade, and she admits feeling drawn to
Blumin
some of her subjects: “Journalists have to
Miami Spice: The New
be very careful of that because a lot of
Florida Cuisine by
these criminals are very charming, very
Steven Raichlen
attractive. . . . You have to be careful
Miami, U.S.A. by Helen Muir
because they are bad people. Like Murph
Miami Vice Scrapbook by
the Surf—he was this charming, devilJeanette Friedman
may-care, sexy, colorful guy. . . . Ted
Bundy was handsome and charming. The monsters out there never look
like the monsters they are. That’s the lesson I always try to impart to kids:
you would think if they looked like what they were, they would be these
people with fangs lurking in the bushes. But they never are. They look
like the boy next door or the guy down the street or the television
repairman.”
Unsolved cases, she says, “just tend to haunt you. . . . It always upset
me to cover deaths of people killed on the job. Most of them are homicides: Seven Eleven clerks and drugstore clerks and gas station attendants—even cops—people who are out there just trying to take care of

Florida’s Famous Faces

7

their families, to do the right thing, and they get blown away on the job.”
Violent young people have changed the complexion of crime, particularly in big cities like Miami: “The most dangerous people in America
are aged eleven to eighteen. You look in their eyes and it’s like nobody’s
home. They’ll kill you for your car, they’ll kill you for a Coke, they’ll kill
you just for fun.”
Twice-divorced, Edna Buchanan lives alone (with her five stray cats)
in a modest, ’50s-style house in Miami Beach. She carries a Smith and
Wesson .38 and asserts, “No place is safe, but the contrast is more
dramatic in Florida because this is paradise and when ugly things happen
in paradise it’s much more newsworthy, more dramatic.” Still, this brave
blonde woman, who has tracked Miami’s devolution into America’s crime
capital, proudly claims, “There’s no place like Miami for a writer.”

Jimmy Buffett
Original Coral Reefer

J

immy Buffett was not born in Key West. In tracing his earliest steps
on a map, the famous pop balladeer directs fans to what some
Southern folks still call “The Redneck Riviera,” the rich stretch of
Gulf of Mexico real estate from the Florida-Alabama state line and
Perdido Bay west to the Mississippi-Louisiana border.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1946, Buffett studied at the University of
Southern Mississippi, where he majored in journalism and history. He
came to Key West in the early 1960s, taking jobs at beery places like
Captain Tony’s Saloon and becoming a bit of a wandering musician: “I
was the only musician in town. . . . I was music. There were no other
songwriters. No music scene. It was all literary, novelists. I was writing
songs and jamming in the bars and having a ball.”
Buffett allowed Key West to work its island magic on him, becoming a
full-time resident in 1972. In turn, he created a unique style of pop music
combining the lime and the coconut, tropical escape and salted glasses,
the key fun at hand in Key West. Buffett has immortalized the salty characters who reside in this end-of-the-earth town, sending the rest of the
world musical picture postcards, alive at the turn of a phrase. His early
albums—A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean (1973), Living and
Dying in 3/4 Time (1974), A-1-A (1974), Havana Daydreamin’ (1976)—
brought him regional acclaim as well as a loyal audience and some
commercial success. With the release of Changes in Latitudes, Changes in
Attitudes (1977) and Son of a Son of a Sailor (1978), albums that both went

Pop Culture
by
James Goss

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