Nick de Noia was killed in April 1987 in a murder plot authorities said was orchestrated by Chippendales founder Steve “Somen” Banerjee to benefit his business. Banerjee was convicted in de Noia’s death and for plotting a hit on former dancer Read Scot and others.
Chippendales Associate Producer Candace Mayeron told Elle Magazine that tension had been building between de Noia and Banerjee, which reached its height after de Noia retained the touring rights to Chippendales and several former dancers left the troupe to launch Adonis, a competing all-male exotic dance crew. It took years for investigators to gather enough information to charge Banerjee.
ABC 20/20 is digging into the salacious murder plot on its season 44 premiere tonight. ‘The Chippendales Murder’ airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, October 8, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
De Noia Was Shot in the Face With a High-Caliber Gun in His Office Where His Emmy Awards Were Also on Display, Authorities Said at the Time
An archive 1987 article from the New York Times describes de Noia’s death and murder, and their early leads in the investigation.
“The victim, Nicholas De Noia, 46 years old, was found on the floor of his 15th-floor office at 264 West 40th Street at 3:40 P.M. by a person who had come there on business. He had been shot once in the left cheek with a large-caliber handgun,” the article said.
Authorities identified a suspect, who was described as an unidentified Hispanic man between 35 and 40 years old, about 5-feet 7-inches tall and weighing about 145 pounds, clean shaven with black or salt and pepper hair.
De Noia was an Emmy award winning director and producer for the NBC children’s television series, “Unicorn Tales.” Police who were on the scene told The New York Times that the Emmy statuettes were also in the office where de Noia’s body was found. De Noia had been married to actress Jennifer O’Neill.
Mayeron Said She Believes She Was on the Phone With de Noia When the Murderer Walked In
Chippendales Associate Producer Candace Mayeron spoke to Elle Magazine about her time with Chippendales and about the murder that rocked the dance troupe and company.
“My job wasn’t as easy as people might think,” she said in the article. “But the most difficult moment was having to tell my guys that Nick, whom many of the Chippendales men looked upon as a father figure, had been murdered.”
Mayeron was involved with many aspects of the business, including teaching the men how best to interact with the women, and made a rule that the dancers could not get haircuts without her permission after hiring a dancer with flowing locks who arrived on his first day with short hair, the article said.
Mayeron said in the article that she and de Noia had become “very close,” and they had dinner together a few nights before he was killed.
“A couple days later, I was on the phone with Nick when he suddenly said, ‘I can’t talk, I got to go.’ That was our last phone call ever. I believe we were actually talking when his murderer walked in,” she said.
Chippendales Members Quickly Pointed the Finger at Banerjee, But It Would Be Years Before He Was Arrested
A 1993 article from the Independent detailed the case against Banerjee, which included charges both for the murder of de Noia and attempted murder of Read Scot and others. At the time, he was under arrest facing charges including racketeering, arson plots and murder, the article said.
The United States Attorney’s office in Los Angeles told the Independent the motive was “to enhance the business of Chippendales, or to gain revenge from persons who had caused injury to the business.”
Mayeron told Elle Magazine she learned de Noia was murdered during a show, just one hour after she got off the phone with him. She knew de Noia would want the show to go on, she told Elle, so she waited until it was over to tell the crew.
“When I told the guys in the dressing room after the show, one of them jumped up and screamed, ‘I’m going to kill that motherf***** Steve Banerjee.’ He wanted to run out of the room in his g-string and get his revenge,” she told Elle. “There wasn’t a scintilla of doubt in my mind that it was Steve either.”