The Dean Martin Show

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The Dean Martin Show
Dean Martin Florence Henderson 1958.JPG
Martin with guest Florence Henderson, 1968.
Genre Variety/Comedy
Written by Arnie Kogen
Ed. Weinberger
Directed by Greg Garrison
Presented by Dean Martin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 264
Production
Producer(s) Greg Garrison
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run September 16, 1965 (1965-09-16) – April 5, 1974 (1974-04-05)
Chronology
Followed by The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast

The Dean Martin Show, also known as The Dean Martin Variety Show, is a TV variety-comedy series that ran from 1965 to 1974 for 264 episodes. It was broadcast by NBC and hosted by entertainer Dean Martin. The theme song to the series was his 1964 hit "Everybody Loves Somebody".

Nielsen Ratings[edit]

  • Season 1 (September 16, 1965 - May 5, 1966, 31 episodes): out of the top-30
  • Season 2 (September 8, 1966 - April 27, 1967, 33 episodes): #14
  • Season 3 (September 14, 1967 - April 4, 1968, 30 episodes): #8
  • Season 4 (September 19, 1968 - April 24, 1969, 30 episodes): #8
  • Season 5 (September 18, 1969 - June 18, 1970, 31 episodes): #14
  • Season 6 (September 17, 1970 - April 8, 1971, 28 episodes): #24
  • Season 7 (September 16, 1971 - April 13, 1972, 28 episodes): out of the top-30
  • Season 8 (September 14, 1972 - April 12, 1973, 28 episodes): out of the top-30
  • Season 9 (September 6, 1973 - April 5, 1974, 25 episodes): out of the top-30

The series was a staple for NBC, airing Thursdays at 10:00 for 8 years, until its move to Fridays at 10:00 for the final season and change in format.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, a series of specials spun off from the final season, generated solid ratings for 10 years on NBC.

Development[edit]

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 outrageous: he demanded a high salary and that he need only show up for the actual taping of the show. To his surprise the network agreed. As 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."[1]

Martin believed that an important key to his popularity was that he did not put on airs. His act was that of a drunken, work-shy playboy, although the ever-present old-fashioned glass in his hand often only had apple juice in it. The show was heavy on physical comedy rather than just quips (he made his weekly entrance by sliding down a fireman's pole onto the stage.) Martin read his dialogue directly from cue cards. If he flubbed a line or forgot a lyric, Martin would not do a retake, and the mistake — and his recovery from it — went straight to tape and onto the air.

The Dean Martin Show was shot on color videotape beginning in 1965 at Studio 4 Stage 1 inside NBC's massive color complex at 3000 West Alameda Avenue in Burbank, California. The same studio was used for Frank Sinatra's yearly TV specials in the late 1960s, and Elvis Presley's 1968 "Comeback Special". Studio 4 is currently one of two used in the production of the soap opera Days Of Our Lives.

Regular segments[edit]

  • Martin sang two solo numbers per show, one a serious ballad. He would join his weekly guests in song medleys, trading lyrics back and forth. Some of these duets were deliberately played for laughs—Dean and Liberace, for example—with special lyrics by Lee Hale to suit the performers.
  • One recurring segment was based on Martin's club act, in which he would begin to sing a popular song and suddenly insert a gag punchline. Martin often tried to make his pianist, Ken Lane, laugh hard enough to break his concentration. The segment usually began with Martin leaping onto Lane's piano; in one episode the real piano was secretly replaced with a phony one. When Martin did his leap the entire faux-piano collapsed under his weight, all to the surprise and delight of the studio audience.
  • A knock on the "closet" door occurred each week, with Martin opening the door to reveal an unannounced celebrity guest. Most of the time, Martin did not know who the guest would be, to keep his reactions more spontaneous, according to Hale's book Backstage at the Dean Martin Show.
  • A regular gag during one season was the "Mystery Voice Contest", wherein Dean invited viewers to write in to guess who was singing a particular song. Invariably, it was the famous Frank Sinatra hit "Strangers in the Night". Finally on one episode, Sinatra himself showed up to announce that he was the mystery singer. Martin dutifully handed over the prize — a trip to Los Angeles, the city where the two of them already lived.
  • The finale was typically a production number featuring Dean and the guest stars. Occasionally it would be a musical sketch with Martin appearing as "Dino Vino", a disc jockey who played old records. A vintage record would then be heard, with Dean and his cronies mouthing the words and pantomiming outrageously for comic effect.
  • One of the most highly rated of Martin's programs was a Christmas episode featuring only his and Frank Sinatra's family members: Martin's wife Jeanne with children Craig, Claudia, Gail, Deana, Dean Paul, Ricci and Gina along with Sinatra's three children, Tina, Nancy and Frank Jr.

Regulars and recurring guests[edit]

In later seasons, many regular performers were added, such as Dom DeLuise and Nipsey Russell in sketches set in a barber shop; Kay Medford and Lou Jacobi in sketches set in a diner, and Medford also pretending to be the mother of Martin's pianist, Ken Lane. Leonard Barr, Guy Marks, Tom Bosley, Marian Mercer, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Rodney Dangerfield were also featured on multiple occasions, while bandleader Les Brown was a regular.

During the inaugural 1965-1966 season, The Krofft Puppets were seen regularly. Their stint, however, only lasted 8 episodes.[2] Sid and Marty Krofft were fired because Martin felt he was being upstaged by their puppets.[3]

Summer replacement series[edit]

For Martin's Thursday night time slot, the network and Martin's production crew created original summer programming (without Martin) to hold his usual weekly audience. Rowan and Martin hosted one of Dean Martin's summer series in 1966, which proved so successful that it spawned one of television's most memorable series, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

From July to September 1967, the summer show was co-hosted by Martin's daughter Gail Martin, Vic Damone and Carol Lawrence.

In 1968, Martin's staff came up with a new format: a salute to the 1930s, with a variety show performed as if television existed at that time. Producer Greg Garrison recruited a dozen chorus girls, naming the group "The Golddiggers" after the Warner Brothers musicals of the '30s. The series, Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers, starred Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Joey Heatherton as musical hosts, with comedy routines by Paul Lynde, Stanley Myron Handelman, Barbara Heller, comic impressionists Bill Skiles and Pete Henderson, and neo-vaudeville musicians The Times Square Two.

The summer show was a hit, returning the following year with a new cast. Lou Rawls and Gail Martin took over for Sinatra and Heatherton, and six-foot-six dancer Tommy Tune was featured.

The Golddiggers also toured the nation's nightclubs as a live attraction. Some of the members grew tired of traveling and dropped out, to be replaced by other hopefuls. After the summer series ran its course, the Golddiggers were seen on Martin's own program, and four of them were used in another group, the Ding-a-Ling Sisters.

Toward the end of the Thursday-night run, the summer series was devoted to European comedians. Marty Feldman was featured in Dean Martin's Comedy World, hosted by Jackie Cooper.

Awards[edit]

Emmy Award Nominations

  • Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Foster Brooks (1974)
  • Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Ruth Buzzi (1974)
  • Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series (1972)
  • Outstanding Music and Lyrics Lee Hale (1971)
  • Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series (1970)
  • Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series (1969)
  • Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series (1968)
  • Outstanding Music and Lyrics Lee Hale (1968)
  • Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series (1967)
  • Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (1967)
  • Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Greg Garrison (1967)
  • Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Greg Garrison (1966)

Golden Globe Award Wins

  • Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series Dean Martin (1967)

Golden Globe Award Nominations

  • Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series Dean Martin (1970)
  • Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series Dean Martin (1969)
  • Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series Dean Martin (1968)

DVD[edit]

From 2003 until August 2007, a 29-volume Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show collection was sold by direct marketing firm Guthy-Renker via infomercials and a website.

In mid-2007, NBC Universal filed suit in U.S. District Court against several parties, including Guthy-Renker, claiming copyright infringement, forcing G-R to temporarily withdraw the DVDs from sale.[citation needed] The lawsuit was in regard to a dispute over rights to footage used in the DVD series, material to which NBC claimed it still held the copyright.[citation needed] The conflict was discovered when NBC Universal looked into plans to release its own DVD set.

Also named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit was longtime Dean Martin Show producer Greg Garrison, who, NBC claims, had rights to use only excerpts from selected episodes of The Dean Martin Show[citation needed] for the DVDs—episodes which, according to NBC, Garrison purchased years earlier from the network for a syndicated run of The Dean Martin Show that aired worldwide from 1979 to 1981. Garrison died in 2005, before the lawsuit was brought forward.[4]

A settlement among all of the parties to the suit was reached on January 2, 2008. As a consequence, the Guthy-Renker website once again began selling the collection, and infomercials advertising it returned to the small screen.[citation needed]

There remain two other lawsuits pending over rights to material used in the Best of Dean Martin Variety Show series, but neither of those suits affected sales of the home video collection.[citation needed]

Unaffected by legal disputes were the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials, which continue to be marketed on DVD by Guthy-Renker. Total revenues from Dean Martin DVD sales have been rumored to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The Martin shows have not been on television since their original telecasts.

On February 3, 2011, it was revealed that a brand new package of DVDs featuring footage from The Dean Martin Show would be released on May 24, 2011 by Time-Life Video. Unlike the earlier Guthy-Renker collection, which was marketed via mail order subscription, these new sets would be aimed largely at the retail sector.[5]

On March 21, 2011, NBC Universal TV Consumer Products Group issued a press release disclosing its participation with Time-Life on the project.[6]

In an online report posted July 9, 2011, Deana Martin, one of Dean's daughters, told columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith that the first sets of Dean Martin Show DVDs released by Time-Life in the late Spring had sold so well that a second collection was already being planned, and that she (Deana) would be contributing commentary to it.[7] This information has been independently confirmed by officials at both Time-Life and NBCUniversal.[citation needed]

By the end of the summer of 2011, release dates were disclosed for the second wave of Dean Martin Show DVDs produced by Time-Life and featuring footage supplied by the series' originating network, NBC. Entitled King of Cool: The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show, the new collection would be made available in 1- and 6-disc configurations.[citation needed]

Full List of Guest Stars[edit]

Note: only the first appearance by the guest star is listed

Season 1 (1965-1966)[edit]

Season 2 (1966-1967)[edit]

Season 3 (1967-1968)[edit]

Season 4 (1968-1969)[edit]

Season 5 (1969-1970)[edit]

Season 6 (1970–1971)[edit]

Season 7 (1971-1972)[edit]

Season 8 (1972-1973)[edit]

Season 9 (1973-1974)[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Classic Hollywood: Dean Martin does TV his way Los Angeles Times May 24, 2010
  2. ^ Hal Erickson, "E! True Hollywood Story:" The Weird World of Sid & Marty Krofft
  3. ^ [1] Sid & Marty Krofft Interview, Part 1 of 5
  4. ^ TV Shows on DVD.
  5. ^ Dean Martin Show DVDs Announced
  6. ^ NBCU Press Release re New Dean Martin Show DVDs
  7. ^ Beck/Smith Hollywood

Further reading[edit]

  • Hale, Lee. Backstage at the Dean Martin Show. Taylor Trade Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-87833-170-0.

External links[edit]