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Keys legend 'Captain Tony' Dies


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Ahh, this bums me out but he lived a long, long life. It says in the article he loved women and was hitting on women up until his final days. I have a pic somewhere... he was checking me out and not subtle about it! This guy loved boobs! LOL

Keys legend 'Captain Tony'


Captain Tony's adventurous and colorful life was about the stories.

Key West legend Anthony Tarracino created them as a passionate gambler, shrimper, charter boat captain, gunrunner, mayor, romantic and father of 13 children, now age 22 to 72.

He told his stories with great zeal, especially to the ladies, at his bar, Captain Tony's Saloon, where bras hang from the ceiling and Jimmy Buffett used to sing for a few bucks and Budweisers.

On Saturday, the stories flowed from Tarracino's wife of 38 years, Marty, and eight of his children who gathered at his bedside at the Lower Keys Medical Center during the hours before his death at 2:15 p.m.

Captain Tony was 92.

''We laughed and we cried,'' Marty Tarracino said Sunday. ``I know for a fact he heard us. It was great closure for him, and for us, too.''

Tarracino spent his last week in the hospital for continuing heart and lung problems, missing several events planned in Key West for the unveiling of a book called Life Lessons of a Legend. Brad Menard, a school superintendent from Iowa, wrote it after he met Captain Tony and became enchanted with him.

But for most of his nine-plus decades, Captain Tony didn't miss out on much.

''He had not one regret,'' said Marty Tarracino, who met him at his bar. ``He really lived his life. It was a great ride.''

Tarracino was born in the tough town of Elizabeth, N.J., where his father was a bootlegger. He became a gambler and got involved with a mob, whose shady dealings led to at least one near-death beating.

''He was little in stature, only about five-four, but he was wiry and tough from when he fought his way up from the ghettos of New Jersey,'' said Wendy Tucker, a former Miami Herald reporter who is ghostwriting his autobiography, tentatively titled The Breaks.

In 1948, with $18 in his pocket, Tarracino moved to Key West, where he did his part to put the island city on the world map.

''Every journalist or writer who came to Key West wanted to talk to Captain Tony because he was such a colorful character,'' Tucker said. ``He was even in papers from Japan.''

Marty Tarracino said a highlight of his life came in 1989, when he was elected mayor of Key West.

''He says the hookers put him over the top, but I'm not going there,'' Tucker said with a laugh. ``I think people voted for him because of his love of Key West and wanting to try to keep Key West the way it had been. He fought to save the sunset [festival] and tried to keep development from encroaching.''


Captain Tony, who had four wives over the decades, loved the company of women. He was quick with a compliment and with an invitation to Las Vegas. He was playfully hitting on women, even during the last years of his life while breathing from oxygen tanks. He fathered the last of his 13 children at age 70.

''I always asked my mother why he waited until 70 to name a kid after him,'' said Tony Tarracino Jr., nicknamed TJ. ``TJ stands for Tony Jr. I guess he knew No. 13 was coming, and waited for the last one.''

That reminded TJ of a story his father told women in his older years about being born the same year as the Model T Ford.

'He'd say, `You know, ladies, I'm like the Model T. My tires are worn out, my headlights don't work, my horn doesn't work, But ladies, my clutch is still working,' '' TJ recalled.

TJ said that instead of playing catch, their father-son bonding time involved Sunday trips to Key Largo to gamble on a cruise boat.

''We'd bring enough [oxygen] tanks for him to make the round trip and stop for pizza on the way back,'' TJ said.

Even in his 90s, Captain Tony loved to go to his former saloon to tell stories -- and to ''sign body parts'' for adoring female fans.

''He needed to see the public and the public needed to see him,'' Marty Tarracino said. ``I think making people happy was his greatest goal.''


His tales included running guns for Cuban mercenaries during the Bay of Pigs invasion. His role was captured in a 1991 B movie called Cuba Crossing that starred Stuart Whitman as Captain Tony.

TJ said his father's best quality was his compassion, whether it was helping out a struggling singer like Buffett or simply making everyone feel important.

Buffett's 1985 song Last Mango in Paris tells the story of Captain Tony's larger-than-life exploits.

The chorus: ``He said I ate the last mango in Paris/Took the last plane out of Saigon/Took the first fast boat to China/And Jimmy, there's still so much to be done.''

The song goes on: ``Our lives change like the weather/But a legend never dies.''

''My dad said in his last couple of days that life is nothing but memories,'' TJ said. ``I'm sure he's up there playing blackjack, doubling down on a jack and king and getting an ace -- calling it the breaks. He'll live on through the stories.''

A public viewing is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Dean Lopez Funeral Home on Simonton Street in Key West.

On Saturday, an 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea church will be followed by a 1 p.m. reception for family members and his many friends at Captain Tony's Saloon.



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It was so funny, the guy is talking to your boobs not you and he's like "ooh ladies come here!" and he had quite a grip around our wastes... was with my mom and we were cracking up so bad.

Dirty man! But he was great. :1cry:


i see he is close to copping level

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