Maker of pool cues from 1948-1958 in Brooklyn, New York, and from 1958-1968 in Little Falls, New Jersey. Frank Paradise was born Frank Thomas, but changed his last name to Paradise during a musical stint in the late 1930s. He felt that Thomas was a boring name and Paradise better reflected the mood of the music he was playing. Frank had been a pool player since he was younger, and after giving up music during World War II, went back to playing the game. During this time, most potential players had been drafted, so Frank got a job driving a bus for Greyhound to help make ends meet. In 1948, after winning a Herman Rambow cue in a game, he was inspired to try to make custom cues. Frank liked the playability of Rambow cues, but felt that they were not very attractive. He knew that if he could make a better-looking cue that played just as well, he would be successful. That year, he purchased a lathe and other equipment, and started making cues in his basement.
Frank´s early cues were very similar to Rambow´s, with a brass pin running through the center of the joints, and no bumpers. Soon, Paradise began experimenting with plastic, which after World War II was a state-of-the-art synthetic material that was being produced in a variety of colors and styles. Frank even made one cue, "The Space Age," which had a clear, solid plastic forearm. Although this cue was never popular, it was very innovative at the time. Along with plastic, Frank used hardwoods, brass, nickel silver, mother-of-pearl, ivory, and other materials in the construction of his cues. One of Frank´s trademark features were the interchangeable screw-off ferrule. If a player lost or damaged a tip, they could replace the ferrule instead of replacing the entire shaft. Of course, it was much easier to carry a couple of extra ferrules in one´s pocket than to carry extra shafts.
Although many Paradise cues can be difficult to identify, in the late 1950s Frank started marking many of them. These cues will usually have a gold foil label under a clear plastic ring in the butt sleeve. These labels may be seen in a number of different configurations, but will always include the name Paradise. Frank´s first name or the name of the person for whom the cue was made will also be commonly encountered.
In 1958, Frank moved from Brooklyn, New York to Little Falls, New Jersey. Although his new shop was larger, it still remained in the basement of his home. At this time, during the late fifties and early sixties, a Paradise cue was the one to have for players on the East Coast. Some players had not heard of Harvey Martin, Rambow cues were fairly rare, and George Balabushka was not well-known until years later. Players would routinely go to Frank´s shop to go over the designs and specifications of their cues. When their cues were finished, they would go back to his shop to get them. He also was a regular face at the major tournaments, where he sold many cues. Paradise employed a few men as helpers over the years, at times when he could not keep up with orders by himself. These men included Harry King, Jack Colavita, Mike Fudunka, and Eugene Balner. Balner worked for Frank from 1961 to 1964, when he left to start Palmer Cues.
Today, original Paradise cues are sought after by collectors. Paradise was an innovator, especially in the areas of using plastics, and made some of the fanciest cues of his era. Collectors are primarily searching out the cues with names, extremely fancy cues, and cues made for well-known players or celebrities.
Bio taken from The Blue Book of Pool Cues: Volume 1 by Brad Simpson, Paul Rubino (Editor), Victor Stein (Editor). If you don’t own a copy of this book you should pick one up today. Available in 3 editions and all are a fantastic resource.