Strip club mogul Jack Galardi survived scrapes with the law to build an empire of flesh that stretched from Las Vegas to Miami.
The owner of Cheetahs and eight other clubs nationwide died Saturday at his ranch in Georgia. He was 81.
Galardi was already an elder statesmen of Las Vegas topless bars when his adopted son, Michael, took the family name to prison and a whole new level of fame.
Michael Galardi was a central figure in the FBI’s G-Sting public corruption case, which sent four former Clark County Commissioners to prison in 2006.
Jack Galardi was not implicated in the investigation, but it brought him considerable unwanted media attention.
Galardi, a Korean War veteran, had his own share of trouble with law enforcement, but his daughter, Teri Galardi, described him as “a self-made man and a wonderful entrepreneur who helped hundreds of people.”
Galardi took over as the owner of the Crazy Horse on Paradise Road after the violent death of the club’s previous owner, Tony Albanese, in May 1981.
Authorities thought Albanese had ties to the Bonanno crime family, and his slaying was unrelated to the Crazy Horse.
Teri Galardi said her father was “not mafia-connected in any way.”
In the 1980s, Galardi opened a popular Las Vegas nightclub called Mr. G’s.
He counted several judges, police officials and elected leaders among his friends, and his Saturday backyard barbecues were considered must-attend events for many politicians seeking campaign funds.
Annabelle Stanford, the local Republican Party icon, said Galardi was a regular contributor to both major parties, a member of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and a soft touch for charitable causes.
At one time, Galardi owned 30 topless cabarets across the country. He eventually moved the center of his operations from Las Vegas to Georgia and other Southern states.
When Michael Galardi pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges in 2003, Jack Galardi bought out his son’s Las Vegas strip club interests, only to have county officials revoke the liquor license for one of the cabarets, forcing it to close temporarily.
The father and son reportedly did not get along and were not on speaking terms at the time of Galardi’s death.
By then, his empire had shrunk to nine clubs, including Cheetahs, a mile from the Strip, and four cabarets in Miami.
Galardi battled several health problems in recent years, including cancer and the loss of a lung after a bout of pneumonia, but Teri Galardi said he kept his spirits up.
“My father never complained. He always had a smile for every visitor,” she said. “He was the bravest, strongest man I’ve ever known in my life.”
Services are set for noon Saturday at St. Mary’s Church in Jackson, Ga., not far from Galardi’s Circle G Ranch, where he will be buried.