THE ALLIGATOR got a little out of hand.
When Anthony P. Mango ran a nightclub in Southwest Philadelphia back in the late '50s and early '60s, he liked to have exotic acts - women dancing with snakes, that sort of thing.
His pièce de résistance was going to be a woman wrestling an alligator, which was imported from Florida for the purpose. However, nobody told the alligator how it should behave on the stage, and it went a little crazy, smashing a grand piano and scaring the customers.
The beast was brought under control and donated to the Philadelphia Zoo.
"Years later, we would go to the zoo and visit the alligator exhibit and Dad would point at one and say, 'That might be my alligator,' " said his daughter Margo Mango.
Tony Mango had an interesting life. He was a bodybuilder whose physique was featured in a magazine, an artist's model, an amateur boxer with an eye to turning pro, an Army veteran of World War II and a real-estate broker who wished always to make his clients happy.
He died Sunday of complications of a fall and Alzheimer's disease. He was 88 and lived in Yeadon, but had lived many years in Southwest Philadelphia.
Tony was born in South Philadelphia to Edigio and Anna Mango. It was unlikely he spent much time, if any, in high school. A dedicated bodybuilder, his photo was featured in a 1942 issue of the old Strength & Health Magazine, published by Bob Hoffman, Olympic weightlifting coach and founder of the York Barbell Co.
He also was seriously considering a career as a professional boxer and went to New York to train with ex-lightheavyweight champ Tony Canzoneri.
However, World War II intervened and he was drafted. He spent four years in the Army, mostly stationed at the Quartermaster Depot in Philadelphia, and rose to the rank of staff sergeant.
By the time he got out, it was too late to continue his boxing ambitions.
He became an entrepreneur and was co-owner of a beverage distributor and the Star Dust Nightclub on Elmwood Avenue.
The club was a sprawling affair on three levels with several bars. His daughter believes it was a little too much for the blue-collar neighborhood and closed after a few years.
He married the former Joan Bennett in 1956. She was 16 when they met and he used to sneak her into the nightclub to see the shows. She died in 1982.
Tony then went to work for the Peter McGinnity Real Estate Co. in Philadelphia, then co-founded his own business, Mango and August, Inc., with partner Bernard August, 31 years ago.
An outgoing, gregarious man, Tony was a top-flight salesman. One year, he sold 300 houses.
"He was very charismatic," his daughter said. "People were drawn to him. He was a good guy. He believed in treating people right."
He loved to entertain and ran an open house for family, friends and customers. Parties were held around the pool in warm weather, and some of them ran into the wee hours.
He was a member of the West Philadelphia Real Estate Board for many years.
Tony always kept himself in shape by lifting weights well into his 80s. "He was like Jack LaLanne," Margo said, referring to the fitness guru now in his 90s.
Tony is also survived by two other daughters, Marisa and Mina Mango.
Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Friday at St. Louis Church, Cobbs Creek Parkway, Yeadon. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 100 N. 17th St., 2nd floor, Philadelphia 19103. *