Movie locations can’t get much more iconic than the world-famous New York City nightclub, the Copacabana.
Everyone remembers Martin Scorsese’s 1990 crime film Goodfellas where Irish-Italian mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) takes his date, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), to a show at the venue through a back entrance where viewers get a glimpse of the innerworkings of the popular club.
Along with Goodfellas, several other films have used the Copacabana as a timeless set piece, including Raging Bull, Tootsie, The French Connection, Carlito’s Way, Green Book, The Irishman and, most recently, One Night in Miami where the “King of Soul” Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) performs to a callous crowd.
“The Copacabana showed up as a reference point for the multinational landscape and the thriving Latinx culture in Nueva York,” says film critic Jack Rico during the newest episode of the Scouting Nueva York series, presented by the New York Lottery and its movied-themed $1,000,000 Premiere Scratch-Off Game.
That reference point was also included in the 1947 namesake musical, Copacabana, starring Carmen Miranda and Groucho Marx. The film follows Lionel Q. Devereaux (Marx) and his Brazilian girlfriend and aspiring singer Carmen Navarro (Miranda) trying to trick a producer into thinking that Carmen is a French entertainer named Fifi. The film even begins with a group of showgirls singing about the club.
“We’ve come to the Copa, to be discovered,” they croon. “We’ve come to the Copa, to be found —and to get around.”
During the Copacabana episode of Scouting Nueva York, the New York Lottery and its $1,000,000 Premiere Scratch-Off Game take viewers back to the original club, which, as Rico says, “was the place to be right through the disco era and into New York’s iconic salsa era.” Since it opened in 1940 at 10 East 60th Street, the club has changed locations four times. Its most recent location was at 268 West 47th Street where it welcomed guests until it closed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite its closure (reports say it’s temporary and that it plans to reopen sometime this year at a fifth location), the Copacabana hasn’t lost its magic because of all the rich, cultural history that comes along with it. Did you know when the club opened at its third location in 2011, the first performer was salsa musician Willie Colón? It was also the first band to employ a Latin orchestra as its house band.
Unlike other films that feature the club, in Copacabana, the high-class venue made much more than just a cameo. It was portrayed as another character in the movie with its packed audiences, glamourous performers, catchy orchestra and big band music and all-around elegancy. And we couldn’t forget the Latin-themed songs like “Tico-Tico no Fubá,” “My Heart Was Doing a Bolero” and “He Hasn’t Got a Thing to Sell” that livened up the musical.
We’ll be eagerly waiting until the Copacabana opens its doors again. Until then, see if you can hit the jackpot by playing the $1,000,000 Premiere Scratch-Off Game from the New York Lottery today.