Sunday, October 30, 2016
See an Unforgettable Duet of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on Live TV, Singing Harry M. Woods’ “Side by Side”
[Of related interest, at WEJB/NSU:
“A Celebration of the Music of Harry M. Woods.”]
Re-posted by Nicholas Stix
The video below is from Martin & Lewis’ TV show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, in 1955.
Unfortunately, they would split one year later, after making a series of 16 wildly successful movie comedies together between 1949 and 1956. For a few years, they were the world’s biggest movie stars, bigger even than John Wayne, though their popularity was split.
Each had success on his own, but Lewis had more than Martin. That’s a shame, because Dean Martin was an incredible talent.
As a comedian, he was widely considered the greatest straight man in the business (with all due respect to George Burns and Bud Abbott). He was marvelous, baritone crooner who cut a series of hit records, mostly during the 1960s (“That’s Amore,” “Volare,” “Houston,” and his signature song, “Everyboby Loves Somebody (Sometime).” And over the course of 20 years, he hosted three variety and comedy shows that were so popular that an observer quipped (of Martin and Andy Williams) that they were like having a license to print money, since the popularity of the shows guaranteed that the records would be hits.
If you want to know what Martin was capable of as a straight actor, see Howard Hawks’ classic, 1959 Western, Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne. As the heartbroken deputy, Dave the Dude, Dean Martin gave the greatest performance I’ve ever seen of a drunk. He should have won an Oscar, but he was too restrained. Then, as now, Oscar loves a ham.
However, the TV shows deteriorated into celebrity roasts, and Martin devoted too much time and energy in middle age to a series of three popular but mindless, macho pictures, in which he played private detective Matt Helm.
Dean Martin died in 1995, at the age of 78, after living for years as a recluse. Although he often did an over-the-top drunk shtick on his popular TV shows, he was reportedly not a drunk in real life.
Jerry Lewis has long been considered a comic genius by French critics, though many of them have since died off, and by him.
Lewis is still alive at 90, having survived several massive heart attacks, along the way.
Martin & Lewis reportedly had a brief reunion in 1976.
For me, the story of Martin & Lewis is a tale of modern Hollywood. Great talent may translate into great wealth, but not necessarily into great works.
“Side by Side”
Dean Martin in Rio Bravo