The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast

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The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast
Written byDavid Axelroad, Bill Daley
Directed byGreg Garrison
Presented byDean Martin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons10
No. of episodes54: 29 Specials, 25 as Dean Martin Show segment
ProducerGreg Garrison
Running timeVaries
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 31, 1974 (1974-10-31) –
December 7, 1984 (1984-12-07)
Preceded byThe Dean Martin Show

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast is a series of television specials hosted by entertainer Dean Martin and airing from 1974 to 1984. For a series of 54 specials and shows, Martin and his friends would "roast" a celebrity. The roasts were patterned after the roasts held at the New York Friars' Club.


In 1973, The Dean Martin Show was declining in popularity. In its final season, to pick up the ratings and to require less of Martin's involvement, it was retooled into a series of celebrity roasts by adding a feature called "Man of the Week Celebrity Roast." The roasts seemed to be popular among television audiences and are often marketed in post-issues as part of the official Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts and not The Dean Martin Show. After The Dean Martin Show was cancelled in 1974, NBC drew up a contract with Martin to do several specials and do more roast specials. Starting with Bob Hope in 1974, the roast was taped in California and turned out to be a hit, leading to many other roasts to follow.[1]

In the fall of 1974, the roasts moved permanently to the MGM Grand Hotel's Ziegfeld Room in Las Vegas and mainly aired Thursdays on NBC. The televised roasts were popular in the ratings; however Martin and NBC declined to extend the 10-year contract. Some segments were taped prior to or after the roast, due to considerations with the performer or technical aspects.[2] No roasts were broadcast between 1980 and 1983 (partly due to the MGM Grand fire of 1980), with the specials returning for a few final installments in 1984. The show's official title as a television special would change based on the celebrity; in James Stewart's case for instance, it would be the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Jimmy Stewart.

The roastmaster (Martin), the roastee, and the roasters would be seated on a dais. The roastees were also referred to as "Man of the Hour", "Woman of the Hour", or "Man of the Week" in earlier episodes.

The Roast[edit]

Every roast of the show began with an introduction by the roastmaster himself, that tell fictitious facts about the celebrity in question, describing some real aspects of their work. After the introduction the roasters start to roast the main roastee, using always fictional trivia but meanwhile describing real facts about them, and in the end the roastee would celebrate their experience at the roast, thank everyone and the roastmaster for the evening.

Some of the fictional trivia used in the show are inspired by real aspects of the roastee's life. For example, during the roast of Bette Davis, veteran actor Henry Fonda narrated that I've been close to Bette Davis for thirty-eight years - and I have the cigarette burns to prove it. During that same roast Fonda narrated that, during the shooting of the New Orleans's burning scene, the fire that was coming from the scene was all from Davis's cigarettes.


In two instances, a pair of celebrities were roasted at the same time: Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Only one person was honored posthumously, George Washington, who was honored for the upcoming United States Bicentennial. (The veteran historical impersonator Jan Leighton portrayed Washington for the episode while Audrey Meadows portrayed his wife, Martha.) Michael Landon, Redd Foxx, Joe Namath, and Jack Klugman (with Tony Randall in 1973 and alone in 1978) were the only celebrities roasted twice; Landon's second time, in 1984, being the final roast. Don Rickles hosted the roast of Dean Martin and assumed the role of Roastmaster.[3] Comedian and poet Nipsey Russell and impressionist Rich Little appeared the most often on the roast with each appearing 24 times. While most of the participants were comedians known for their work in such events, occasionally unexpected participants would be featured, such as British pop singer Petula Clark who was recruited to help roast TV actor William Conrad in 1973.

Home media[edit]

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts were released on DVD through Guthy-Renker with some of The Dean Martin Show roasts selected as part of the package. The show is one of the most sold video sets of all-time.[4] NBC Universal brought suit against producer Greg Garrison and Guthy-Renker for selling The Dean Martin Show DVDs; the suit did not affect the Celebrity Roasts. All 54 of the Celebrity Roasts are now being sold via television infomercial by Time–Life.[5]


As a segment on The Dean Martin Show[edit]

As The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter's Eyes. Deana Martin, Wendy Holden Random House Digital, Inc., 2005 ISBN 1-4000-9833-5
  2. ^ The Rat Pack: Neon Nights with the Kings of Cool. Lawrence J. Quirk, William Schoell. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN 0-380-73222-X
  3. ^ Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. Volume 7 of Historical dictionaries of literature and the arts. Kathleen Fearn-Banks, Scarecrow Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8108-5335-3
  4. ^ Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter's Eyes. Deana Martin, Wendy Holden Random House Digital, Inc., 2005 ISBN 1-4000-9833-5
  5. ^ The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete DVD Collection Archived January 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine