The Golddiggers were a singing and dancing troupe of young women that, at different times over their initial 24-year history, consisted of as few as four and as many as thirteen members appearing on stage at one time. They performed in the style of Las Vegas showgirls, and were chosen for their wholesome, attractive looks, talent and presence.
The group began on The Dean Martin Show, and soon thereafter became widely known for starring in their own television series, joining Dean both as regulars on his show and in his nightclub act, and performing on their own in live venues, on other TV programs, and on tour with Bob Hope. Their forte was tightly choreographed and synchronized singing/dancing routines, vocalizing in harmony with coordinated costuming, hair styling, etc., to great visual effect.
Several members of the first generation of Dean Martin Golddiggers (1968–73) continue to perform today under the name "The Golddiggers"; others from both the first generation of Golddiggers and the second (1973 forward) continue to perform both in groups and as solo artists (see below for details).
The original idea to form a group of singer-dancers that would be called The Golddiggers grew out of a need to find a vehicle that would hold the attention of audiences during the summer months when The Dean Martin Show – which began airing as a weekly series on NBC Television in September 1965 – would complete its regular season run and go on hiatus (as was standard practice with virtually all variety series during that era).[page needed]
It was Dean Martin Show producer-director Greg Garrison who hatched the notion of a series with a nostalgic 1930s motif, and Dean Martin Show Music Director Lee Hale who, inspired by the chorines known as "The Gold Diggers" featured in the Busby Berkley - Warner Bros. films of the 1930s and '40s, thought of the name The Golddiggers to dub the ensemble of attractive and talented women around which this new show would revolve.
The initial group, which numbered 12 girls, was introduced on The Dean Martin Show in Spring 1968
On June 20, 1968, they debuted in their own weekly summer variety series, Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers. The program was the top-rated series of the 1968 summer season, and returned the following July (1969) – with a somewhat altered lineup of performers – once again serving as the summer replacement series in Dean Martin's Thursday night time slot.
For the series' third summer outing (which launched in July 1970) it shifted locales to London, with the title modified to become Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers In London. In addition to airing for an hour each week on NBC in the U.S., this edition of The Golddiggers' series was also seen in half-hour weekly form in England.
In-between their summer series, The Golddiggers made occasional appearances on The Dean Martin Show and other programs, and perhaps most notably, joined Bob Hope in 1968, 1969, and 1970 on his annual USO-sponsored Christmas tours of U.S. military bases around the globe. Highlights of these trips were broadcast annually as specials on NBC, and drew some of the highest ratings of any programs during the years that they were telecast.
In the fall of 1970, The Golddiggers returned to the U.S. and became a regular part of the cast of The Dean Martin Show. That same season, four of the members of The Golddiggers (Michelle DellaFave, Tara Leigh, Susan Lund and Wanda Bailey) were selected by Greg Garrison and Lee Hale to form a smaller quartet called 'The Dingaling Sisters', which appeared from time to time in their own solo performances on Martin's show.
In fall 1971, The Golddiggers group was spun off from The Dean Martin Show to headline their own weekly half-hour syndicated series entitled Chevrolet Presents The Golddiggers. At the same time, a revamped version of The Dingaling Sisters (comprising Michelle DellaFave, Tara Leigh, Taffy Jones, and Lynne Latham) succeeded The Golddiggers as the regular female singer/dancers on The Dean Martin Show.
Two of the performers joining The Dingaling Sisters during the 1972-73 seasons who would later go on to greater renown were Lindsay Bloom (who appeared in many feature films and co-starred in the 1980s in the weekly CBS series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer); and Jayne Kennedy (who would become well-known to American television audiences in the late 1970s and early '80s as a co-host of The NFL Today on CBS).
The Golddiggers' syndicated series, which debuted in 1971, aired for two seasons until the early spring of 1973.
The Golddiggers recorded three albums, the first in early 1969, when Metromedia Records released “The Golddiggers” (MD1009), and within only a few months, released a second album, “The Golddiggers, We Need a Little Christmas” (MD 1012). In 1971, RCA Corporation released their third album, “The Golddiggers… Today” (LSP-4643).
"It got to the point where it got too expensive to have so many girls... they weren't being treated very fairly... It was getting really bad for the girls so they all got together and said, 'We're not going to do this anymore' and they all quit". - Neil Daniels, former NBC VP and founder Dean Martin Fan Center.
"That was the end of the line for us". -Susan Lund, original Golddigger.
In 1973, a new group was chosen: Alberici Sisters - Maria Lauren (aka: Maria Elena Alberici) and Linda Eichberg (aka: Linda Alberici), Patti Gribow (aka: Patti Pivarnik), Deborah Pratt, Susan Buckner, Robin Hoctor, Lee Nolting and Colleen Kincaid.
"To the winners Garrison was all smiles and congratulations."
The Golddiggers, from 1973 through the 1990s continued The Golddigger legacy by being regulars on Dean Martin's TV Series and TV Specials. The biggest country music artists would join Martin and The Golddiggers on the Dean Martin Comedy Hour with a medley of hits: Lynn Anderson, Conway Twitty, Ray Stevens, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Mac Davis, Mel Tillis, as well as entertainers Dionne Warwick, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and the top comedians for the Roasts segment.
The Golddiggers also took their talent on the road, opening the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel and Casino performing in the "Celebrity Room" to sold out crowds with Dean Martin to over 2,000,000 people.
They were the opening act for Petula Clark, Steve and Eydie, Joan Rivers at Caesars Palace and Bally's Las Vegas, and toured with Bob Hope, Louis Prima, Jerry Vale and many more entertainers. In 1977, The Golddiggers of the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tour were Maria Lauren (aka: Maria Elena Alberici - Riccio) and her sister, Linda (Alberici) - Eichberg, Patti Gribow, Peggy Gohl, Joyce Garro and Robyn Whatley.
1978 brought in a new look to the Golddiggers with new members Linda Snook, Marie Halton, Melody Ruhe and Julia Hanibal joining remaining members, Robyn Whatley and Peggy Gohl. In the tradition of the previous members, this group toured with Dean and performed in their own show sharing the stage with some of the entertainment worlds greatest performers.
For the next thirteen years, some of these women, and former members returned to the group and continued to represent the Golddiggers with all the glamour and talent they were known for.
The Golddiggers continued on a grand form with another Mexico tour and also as Dean's opening act in Vegas. The group was booked for television and more Christmas in California specials... Before long we rejoined The Golddiggers. Working with Dean was a safe haven for us and we continued to perform with him until he retired in 1991."
All of the Golddiggers musical performances were under the direction of Lee Hale - who later wrote Backstage at the Dean Martin Show. "Although the group started as an even dozen, they ended up as a quartet opening for Dean at his monthly dates in Las Vegas. Those last four girls were definitely among the best". Maria (Alberici) Lauren, Linda (Alberici) Eichberg, Patti Gribow, Peggy Gohl, Marie Halton, Robyn Whatley, and Linda (Snook) Bott, were a part of that last group. With the approval of producers, Greg Garrison and Lee Hale, some of these last girls performed as The Golddiggers within the span of over three decades and still perform as The former Dean Martin Golddiggers in "SHOWSTOPPERS" a tribute to the many stars that they had the honor to co-star and rub elbows with including the Rat Pack.
Six of the original Dean Martin Golddiggers (Sheila Allan, Suzy Cadham, Jackie Chidsey, Susie Ewing, Rosie Gitlin, and Nancy Sinclair) have reunited and have been performing their hits on television and in Las Vegas.
At a special Washington DC performance in November 2007, the six original Golddiggers were joined by two additional Golddiggers, Michelle DellaFave and Wanda Bailey.
The former Dean Martin Golddiggers, including Patti (Pivarnik) Gribow, Joyce Garro, Linda Bott, Marie Halton, Robyn Whatley, Peggy Gohl, Deborah Pratt, Susan Buckner and the Alberici Sisters: Maria Lauren and Linda Eichberg lend their talents at charity events to help the performing arts, women, youth, Aids... In 2008, Maria (Alberici) Lauren, Linda (Alberici) Eichberg and Peggy Gohl entertained in "SHOWSTOPPERS" with rave reviews, "Showstoppers, live up to their name."
At various times, members included:
- The Golddiggers - 1969
- We Need a Little Christmas - 1969
- The Golddiggers... Today! - 1971
- Hale, Lee; Neely, Richard D. (2001). Backstage at the Dean Martin Show. Thorndike Press. ISBN 0-7862-3234-X.
- "The Avengers Forever: Julian Chagrin".
- "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" page=68, ISBN 978-1463564575, Publisher=TvParty Books, Author=Maria Lauren, Author=Linda Eichberg, year=2011
- "Fanfare" magazine number two, year=1978, page=20 by William Munger
- Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1973 by Mark jones
- Daniels, Neil T. (August 2002). "Dean Martin Fan Center". pp. 4, 5.
- Hale, Lee; Neely, Richard D. (2001). Backstage at the Dean Martin Show. Thorndike Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-7862-3234-X.
- Daniels, Neil T. (August 2002). "Dean Martin Fan Center". p. 8.
- Vegas Visitor newspaper, February 4, 1976 and March 9, 1977
- Daniels, Neil T. (August 2002). "Dean Martin Fan Center". p. 24.
- Daniels, Neil T. (August 2002). "Dean Martin Fan Center". p. 9.
- Lloyd, Jack (1977). "Inquirer".
- Lewis, Ralf (June 1977). "About Faces".
- "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" page=325, page=326, Author=Maria Lauren, Author=Linda Eichberg, Publisher=TvParty, ISBN 978-1463564575, year=2011
- Hale, Lee; Neely, Richard D. (2001). Backstage at the Dean Martin Show. Thorndike Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-7862-3234-X.
- Daniels, Neil T. (October 2003). "Dean Martin Fan Center". pp. 32–35.
- "The Wickenburg Sun". October 17, 2008.