Johnny Carson, Mamie Van Doren and Bill “Weenie Beenie” Staton on the Tonight Show.

I have collected here a few stories about Bill “Weenie Beenie” Staton, who was one of our sport’s more colorful promoters and players during the 1960s. The owner of Jack & Jill’s Cue Clubs, Staton died on Feb. 18, 2006 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, his hometown. He was 77.

The first story is from his daughter, Gwyn Staton, who wrote it to memorialize him shortly after his death.  I then posted a few more stories about Staton from friends. You can find them if you keep scrolling. At the bottom of this post is a photograph of the Weenie Beenie hot dog stand, which he purchased with gambling money. Above this post is a picture of Weenie Beenie on the Tonight Show during the 1960s.

If you want to keep poking around, I also have separately posted on this website a very brief excerpt of an interview I conducted with Weenie Beenie for my book Hustler Days. He references in it his hot dog stand. You can read that separate interview excerpt here. And if you have your own story about Weenie Beenie or any of the other players referenced on, send them in. I’ll try to post them up.

Memories of Bill Staton from his daughter, Gwyn Staton:

Bill “Weenie Beenie” Staton

“My dad was a wonderful dad. He was the epitome of the American Dream. He did what we all aspire to. Born the 9th of 9 children, he was raised in a small farmhouse in Concord, NC. He rose from modest beginnings to become an American legend and has done more in his life than most of us will ever do. It is said he started pool at the old age of 23 and loved the game. He became accomplished enough to win a number of championships and did what he loved for a living. He was a master of all games and sports, particularly pool, golf and cards.

At our house, he was the Master of Ceremonies.

He challenged us with a new vocabulary word daily. He was the consummate entertainer. He loved to entertain all of us kids, and our children. He loved to tell jokes and anecdotes, showed us card tricks and magic tricks. He loved to baffle us. He would turn $1 dollar bills into $5s and $20s, and sometimes a $100 bill. Whenever we would visit from Seattle, my son Sean always asked me to bring a lot of $1 dollar bills so granddad could turn them into $100 bills.

Dad loved Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and then Biloxi, Miss. He loved to travel, but most importantly, he loved his family and friends, of which he had so many. That dad affected so many lives is amazing. He was everyone’s friend, a gentleman, and a real Class Act.

He started several successful businesses, including the Weenie Beenie restaurants with our Uncle Carl, and the Jack and Jill Family cue clubs. He was a true entrepreneur. After I was born, he never worked a 9 to 5 job, which was an example to us to — as he said — “beat our own path” in life.

Dad and Mom had three children and encouraged each of us to follow our dreams and our hearts, to be our best, and to contribute to the world. He raised me as the first born boy, giving me, and Vik and Scott, every opportunity for a broad and varied education and life experience; to travel, to explore, to aspire to do anything, and everything, which was unusual for the 50s. He was a visionary.

Dad instilled in me and my brother and sister our values. He was our inspiration and role model. He always rooted for the underdog. He loved people and animals, including his menagerie of cats, raccoons, all named “Rocky”, birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, a red fox, and even the possums that he fed nightly in Myrtle Beach.

He was a true free spirit and his values and beliefs and traditions live on in us.

He taught us to be the best we can be, and to live life with Integrity, Honesty, Morality, Diligence and Perseverance, Courage and Strength, Compassion, a Sense of Humor, Spontaneity and, most importantly, Love and Respect.

He was the most worldly and widely respected man I ever knew. Despite his accomplishments, he was always humble; very proud of Mom and us. When we kids were around, there was not a day that he didn’t tell Mom he loved her.

That is the character of my father. We are truly blessed.

Dad, Thank you for guiding us in life, and for your love, support and devotion. You will be remembered and loved by us all, always.

This is not the end; it is a new and rejoiceful beginning.”

Norma Jean and Bill Staton

Just to the right is a photo of Weenie Beenie and his wife Norma Jean during their 50th Anniversary wedding celebration. And just below is a story from reader Dick Yates, who tells about Weenie Beenie playing a guy named Al. Al was known for making no-lose propositions. Here’s the story:

“One day while working in Joe’s pool room, Weenie and Al were shooting the game of one-pocket and as usual Al tried to lock up Beenie in a sucker game. The rules for that particular game, Weenie had to make two balls in a side pocket while Al had to make eight balls in the lower two pockets. The game went in Al’s favor for quite a while. Then the stakes were raised quite a bit. At that point Weenie won six expensive games in a row. (Seems as though Weenie knew a thing or two about locking up a sucker).

During the seventh game, Al accused Weenie of cheating and demanded all his money back. Weenie told him where to go and Al came at him with a cue stick. Al, still with the cue in hand, chased Beenie from 7th & D streets, to G Street, G to 8th Street, and back to 7th & D streets. At that point Weenie jumped into his car and waved BYE-BYE to Al. Not only was Beenie a smarter and better pool shooter, he was also a faster runner than Al.”

Carl Ryan, another reader, wrote me the following quick note some time back:

“All that is said here about Bill being an all around gentleman and friend is completely true. I knew him in the 60s when he used to come to the Commodor Hotel in NYC for the invitational pocket pool tournament. Saw him win one game 125 to 2 (and a celebrity in the stands lost $400 on the match)”

And finally here’s Bill Staton’s obituary, provided by his daughter Gwyn Staton:

William (Bill) Staton, 77, long time resident of Myrtle Beach, died Saturday, February 18, 2006 at Grand Strand Regional Hospital. Born in Concord, NC to the late Bertha and Dexter Staton. Bill, also known as “Weenie Beenie”, was a world renowned pool player, winning tournaments including the World’s Championship One Pocket tournament, the Virginia State Pool Championship five times, and numerous other tournaments. He won the Stardust Open One Pocket Champion in Las Vegas, and played all the World’s Greats in pool. Bill was an inaugural member of the One Pocket Hall of Fame. His full interview given last year is available at OnePocket.Org.

He started Jack & Jill Cue Clubs, family oriented pool establishments. He was ahead of his time. One of them operated 24 hours a day in Arlington, Va. for 14 years until Weenie retired to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1981. At the Jack & Jill, he started the U.S. Open Pool Tournament, and hosted numerous well attended pool and billiard tournaments over the years.

He was a sports commentator for ABC Wide World of Sports, ESPN and AMF. He traveled extensively and loved attending pool and sporting events around the world. Most recently he commentated for the Japan Open.

He performed the trick shots in several well known movies including “The Color of Money.”

With an artful repertoire of trick shots, he made many guest appearances on TV shows such as The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The David Frost Show and Steve Allen’s “I’ve Got a Secret.” His secret was he could sink all the balls on the table with one shot. That was quite a feat in the early 1960s.

He traveled with the USO and the AMF Staff of Champions giving pool exhibitions to our armed forces and audiences throughout the world.

Weenie Beenie hot dog stand in Arlington, Virginia.

He earned his nickname “Weenie Beenie” from the chain of hot dog stands he and his brother started in Northern Virginia, which still operate over 50 years later.

Weenie Beenie was an avid golfer and played with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas. He moved to Myrtle Beach after falling in love with the “Golf Capital of the World.”

He is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Norma Jean Staton; their three children: Gwyn Staton of Seattle, WA, Victoria Ishee of Atlanta, GA, and Scott Staton of Richmond, VA; four grandchildren; and four sisters: Mildred Stiller of Greensboro, NC, Margaret Brown and Hazel Peurifoy of Concord, NC and Margie Coakley of Temperance, MI.

— R.A. Dyer