A prominent and beloved local icon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was also alleged to have ties to a mafia crime family in the city, has passed away.
Jerry Blavat, a legendary dance and radio host known as “The Big Boss with the Hot Sauce” and “The Geator with the Heater,” died Friday morning at the age of 82, local NBC affiliate WCAU reported.
Per Blavat’s family, his cause of death was attributed to myasthenia gravis, a rare condition described as a “chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by fluctuating weakness of the voluntary muscle groups,” for which he had been receiving treatment at VITAS Inpatient Hospice at Jefferson-Methodist Hospital.
“The Boss with the Hot Sauce is with the Big Boss Now”
“On behalf of our family, we would like to thank all of you, Jerry’s friends from near and far, for the outpouring of prayers, love, support, respect, acknowledgment, and appreciation for what he meant to all of you, especially in such a difficult time for our family,” Blavat’s family said in a statement posted to Instagram.
“We know how much he was loved by you, his loyal fans and friends, and we know the ‘Geator’ will live on in our hearts forever. But for us, our grief is truly indescribable in losing the man we’ll forever call ‘Daddy,'” the family continued.
“Jerry proudly said, ‘Life is precious, and I am happy. And when I am happy, I want the world to be happy.’ So he lived life to the fullest and enjoyed sharing life with all of you,” the statement said. “His love for Philadelphia only superseded his love of music. He was proud of this great city, and nothing made him prouder than the impact the music from Philadelphia made on the world.”
“Please continue to share your memories of Jerry. We are enjoying them. He loved all of you,” the family’s statement concluded. “The Boss with the Hot Sauce is with the Big Boss Now.”
A beloved icon with an alleged dark side
Local Fox affiliate WTXF reported that Blavat was a native of South Philadelphia who launched his career in the entertainment industry at the age of 13 as a dancer on the original “Bandstand” program, prior to becoming the host of his own radio show at the age of 20.
Beloved and honored by the community over the decades, Blavat was inducted in 1993 into the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s Hall of Fame, then in 1998 he was inducted into the national Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s Museum of Radio and Records.
In 2018, Philadelphia Magazine voted Blavat as the “Best Philly Icon,” and his legendary status in the city was evident by the outpouring of condolences and grief from fans and friends and former colleagues at the news of his death.
However, things were not always sunny for this Philly icon, as reports from the 1980s and 90s alleged that Blavat had connections to the mob, specifically New Jersey’s Bruno-Scarfo crime family.
It was further alleged that, in addition to being present at an apparent hit job on rivals in 1981, he had also paid the mob a “street tax” or protection money to help advance his career and to keep union organizers out of his dance clubs — allegations he repeatedly denied and insisted he’d done nothing wrong.
“Big celebration” planned
Per the family’s statement, there will be a “big celebration” of Blavat’s life that is scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and Paul that will feature a public viewing followed by a funeral mass.
According to WCAU, Blavat is survived by his unmarried partner of more than 30 years, Rosalie Stahl, as well as his four daughters, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.