Frank Ferry
Frank Ferry Handout

After the first season of "Boardwalk Empire" wraps later this year, Egg Harbor Township's Frank Ferry hopes the public's interest will be piqued enough to read his book about Nucky Johnson, which Ferry says will be the most thorough biography about the late Atlantic City political boss.

It took Ferry, a senior partner in the Ventnor law firm Farley, Fredericks and Ferry, about 10 years to research and write his book, which he hopes will be titled "Baron of the Boardwalk." It will be released by Plexus Publishing, which also published Hammonton resident Nelson Johnson's book, "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City," on which the HBO series is based.

Parts of Ferry's book, which will cover Johnson's life from childhood, will be about personal interactions Ferry had with Johnson, particularly when Ferry convinced the state not to pursue a $20,000 fine related to Johnson's 1941 tax evasion conviction. Ferry spoke to Johnson regularly and visited his Ventnor home. Ferry also recalls being at an Atlantic City nightclub when he saw an "imposing figure with a red carnation and two beautiful showgirls on each arm" walk into the club.

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"The whole crowd chanted, 'Nucky,'" Ferry said. "It was the first time I saw him, and I realized how much people loved him. He was a hero. That spurred my interest in him as a person. I think if people really want to know what he was like, then they will want to read this book."

Actress on rise

Things seem to be falling into place when it comes to Jessica O'Brien's goal of becoming a professional actress. In fact, fate always seemed to play a part.

O'Brien, 24, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, remembers being introduced to theater in atypical fashion. Needing a ride home from a birthday party when she was 7, O'Brien found herself at a theater, where her friend was auditioning for "The King and I." Her friend's mother encouraged O'Brien to audition. Not having anything prepared, she sang "Happy Birthday," and walked out with a part.

O'Brien has been doing theater ever since, working with local companies, Southern Regional High School and Princeton University. She also worked on TV pilots that were shopped to networks, as well as an off-Broadway production. She even served as a choreographer for a national touring company.

Recently, things have been looking even brighter. She recently started graduate school at Princeton, where she received a full theater scholarship, and she won a Perry Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters for her choreography in the Our Gang Players' "Crazy For You." She also was nominated for outstanding lead actress in the same musical produced by the Manahawkin-based group.

"The ultimate goal is to have a lifelong profession in the field," O'Brien said. "I like to think I am a fearless performer. I think fear is something that can completely control you, and if you have fear, you never will be able to go 110 percent in the direction you want to go."

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at:

Late businessman honored with street

In Monday's Everyone Has a Story, an Atlantic City street is named after a late local businessman who cared about the community.

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