57 Years Ago … Dean

“The Dean Martin Show” debuted on September 16, 1965. For most of its run, Dean’s variety hour was a fixture on the NBC Thursday night lineup. Martin was initially reluctant to do the show, partially because he did not want to turn down movie and nightclub performances.

His terms were deliberately unrealistic: as author Lee Hale recalled, “He presented [NBC] with a list of demands he thought it would be impossible to fill. He asked for an outrageous amount of money, of course, but there was more. He only wanted to work one day a week, and that day had to be Sunday. He didn’t want to do anything but announce the acts. He didn’t even want to sing if he didn’t feel like it… But surprisingly NBC agreed to each of his demands. ‘They should have thrown them in my face,’ Dean said later, ‘but they agreed to it all. So what the hell, I had to show up!'”

As his daughter, Deana Martin, recalled, after meeting the network and making his demands, Martin returned home and announced to his family, “They went for it. So now I have to do it.”

At first Dean had no regular supporting cast other than his accompanist, pianist Ken Lane. Guest stars were featured each week in comedy skits and songs, both alone and with Dean (who never rehearsed). Some of the young talent (including The Golddiggers and The Ding-a-Ling Sisters) also starred in Dean’s summer replacement series. The last show aired on May 24, 1974, but his “Celebrity Roasts” continued on NBC as a series of occasional specials.

57 years later, I can still watch clips of the show on YouTube and laugh like crazy! If you want to read a fantastic book about the show, find yourself a copy of “Back Stage At The Dean Martin Show” by Lee Hale. It’s a joy to read!

18 thoughts on “57 Years Ago … Dean

  1. Man, he had some clout back then! To only agree to introduce guests and not have to rehearse or even perform if he didn’t want to… no one would get away with that these days. Yet it was still a hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the great part of the whole store! He purposely had a list of crazy demand that he never thought they’d agree to – yet they did!

      In the Lee Hale book he talks about how many of the guests were furious that they were rehearsing with a stand in for Dean (Lee Hale). There is a clip of Dean doing a square dance number with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. If you watch carefully, you can see the dancers literally pushing and pulling him to wherever he is supposed to be.


  2. I tried to comment, but I think WordPress may have eaten it. :/ It may be awaiting moderation, but just in case it accidentally disappeared, I’ll try again (and if the first one came through, you can just delete this one):

    I love Dean, too. That’s definitely something we have in common. 🙂 Thanks for the book recommendation! Have you seen the documentary King of Cool?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It may only be available through TCM (the channel, Turner Classic Movies). That’s how I saw it. However, I’m pretty sure they have a streaming service you can subscribe to, regardless of whether the channel is offered by your TV provider. I don’t know how much it costs, but if you can watch King of Cool there, it may be worth it to subscribe just to check it out, and then drop it when you’re done. Regardless, if it ever comes your way, I highly recommend it. ❤ And if you’re curious and don’t mind some spoilers, you may want to check out the post I wrote about it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve been a fan for years. I’ve also wrote a few blogs on Dean. I think my autographed picture was sold by my ex when we went through our divorce. Sigh.

        Will definitely go and check out your post. Dean’s music has played a significant role in many aspects of my life. I never saw the show when it aired, and wish I had invested in the DVDs when they were available, because every show I have seen has been a delight.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, it mades me sad. Somewhere in my blog I tell the story of how he sent it to me. Will try to find it

        There is so much great Dean stuff to discover. I have some live albums, most of his films, and a few DVDs of his roasts and shows. He was a master.

        Liked by 1 person

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