Monday, May 1, 2000 | 11:49 a.m.
Maurice Uchitel, who parlayed a fortune he made in New York's garment industry with successful investments in restaurants and a hotel, has died in Las Vegas. He was 88.
Uchitel, who owned New York's famed El Morocco supper club and co-owned Miami's elegant Eden Roc Hotel during their heydays, died Friday at Nathan Adelson Hospice.
Services were Sunday for the Las Vegas resident of 20 years.
Born Sept. 6, 1911, near Odessa, Ukraine, in Czarist Russia, Uchitel fled to the United States with his mother, two brothers, and a sister after his father was killed during the October revolution of 1917 that brought the communists to power.
Uchitel's sister died shortly after arriving in New York and his mother died a few years later, forcing Uchitel and his brothers to go to work. Uchitel got his first job delivering groceries at age 7, his family said.
The brothers eventually went into the lucrative garment industry, where, during World War II, Maurice made uniforms for the U.S. Army and ran a business that produced coat fronts and suit shoulder pads. He became known as the "Shoulder Pad King" for helping to popularize the style of that era and was wealthy by age 30.
Uchitel then invested in the hotel and restaurant industry, purchasing New York's Voisin restaurant and the El Morocco and the Eden Roc in Miami Beach.
"He was a partner in the ownership in the late 1950s and early '60s," said Randy Griffin, marketing director for the Eden Roc, which opened in 1955. "That was the hotel's heyday."
In recent years the 349-room Eden Roc Resort and Spa has been attempting to recapture those glory days with a $24 million renovation, including its Victorian-style ballroom and what the hotel's officials say is the largest oceanside spa in the nation.
As a dashing hotelier and restaurateur, Uchitel enjoyed rubbing elbows with musicians, celebrities and politicians, but his family said he never became an elitist.
While keeping a residence in New York, Uchitel frequently visited both Miami and Las Vegas for 20 years. In 1980 he moved to Las Vegas.
Uchitel is survived by his two grandchildren, Rachel and Neil Uchitel.
Palm Mortuary-Eastern handled the arrangements.
The family said donations can be made in Uchitel's memory to Nathan Adelson Hospice.