‘The Dean Martin Show’ was a hit TV variety-comedy series that aired on NBC from 1965- 1974 for a total of 264 episodes. The famous singer and comedian Dean Martin hosted this show, which was known and loved for its uniqueness.
Just what made it so unique? This was probably due to the star of the show, Dean Martin himself. He had a relaxed, easy-going demeanor, earning him the nickname. His charisma was also off the charts, so it was no surprise that the show was so successful and long-running.
Here some other fun facts about the Dean Martin Show.
- Demanding Martin – At first, Dean Martin was uninterested in accepting this show because he wanted to focus more on his nightclub gigs and movie projects. To discourage the producers, Dean demanded ‘outrageous’ conditions, including a very high salary and non-appearance during rehearsals (he said that he will appear on Sunday only, which was the actual taping day). To his surprise, NBC accepted all his terms. He hence had no option left other than signing the contract.
- One day Host – Right from the get-go, Dean was very clear that he only wanted to appear during Sundays for the actual taping day. Although Dean was still able to catch up even if he was not around during rehearsals, this situation still affected the show’s ‘swift’ segment flow.
- Dean ‘The Boxer’ – Dean Martin was known as a high-caliber actor and singer, but he was also an amateur boxer! He used the alias ‘Kid Crotchet’ in the ring. Dean’s amateur boxing record stands at 24 wins, six losses in over a total of 30 fights.
- Busy Dean – While he was doing the ‘The Dean Martin Show,’ Dean also had many other projects on the side. He even starred in the 1970 box office film ‘Airport.’ Dean also top-billed Matt Helm’s (the swinger agent) four movie installments: The Silencers, Murderers’ Row, The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew.
- Speechless Dean. Dean was unable to speak English until five years old. The reason for such delay was that he grew up in a ‘very’ Italian household.
- Name Names. Before becoming Dean Martin, the host had to change his screen name twice. This happened when Dean was just starting in his showbiz career. At first, he used his real name, Dino Crocetti, but later on changed it to Dino Martini. But after realizing that Dino Martini sounds almost the same as Nino Martini (a famous Italian singer) he arrived at his final screen name- Dean Martin.
- An Old-fashioned Glass for Juice – Dean loved to drink through an old-fashioned glass in the show. Instead of whiskey or any other alcoholic beverage, though, he only put apple juice into it.
- Strange Entrance – Aside from the mystery guests, the viewers were also excited to see Dean’s ‘odd’ entrance every week- Dean usually slid from a fireman’s pole going to the stage.
- A Drunken Image: The show’s producers exploited the image of Dean Martin as a boozer, and Martin himself wasn’t above capitalizing on his half-drunk, carefree image. He would even get away with remarks that might get someone else a slap or reprimand. Even his vanity license plate read ‘DRUNKY’; but his use of alcohol in real life was actually very disciplined. The drunken persona was mostly inspired by Joe E. Lewis and not a reflection of his real-life habits.
- First and Last – Aside from not attending the rehearsal, Dean also insisted on directly reading the script from the cue cards. This set-up made him commit a lot of mistakes while reading his lines. But on the positive side, this spontaneity made the show funnier. Plus, he would never allow any retakes, but let all his mistakes go on tape and be aired to the public.
- ‘Confusing’ Show – Some people confused the ‘The Dean Martin Show’ with the ‘Dean Martin Variety Show.’ Although Dean Martin led the two shows, they were totally different. ‘The Dean Martin Variety Show’ was aired from 1959-1960, while ‘The Dean Martin Show’ was aired from 1965-1974.
- Secret Guests – Throughout the show’s 264 episodes, Dean Martin never knew who his next guest will be. He would only know about his guest for the week after opening a closet where the celebrity guest hides.
- Script Use-less – Charles Nelson Reilly, one of the show’s regular casts, said that scripts were actually useless in the ‘The Dean Martin Show.’ He revealed a time when strong winds carried away the scripts for one episode while he was driving his convertible car. Although he was not able to recover the scripts, Charles never got worried. Well, who would? Even the show’s host didn’t read the scripts and spontaneity was valued above anything else.
- Incomplete Translate – In Germany, ‘The Dean Martin Show’ was translated to German language (Deutsch). However, this excluded the song numbers of the show.
- Mr. Replacement – Since Dean only wanted to tape every Sunday, the production team has left with no other option but to set up the stage on a Saturday. During the Saturday rehearsals, Lee Hale, the show’s musical director, had to proxy for Dean Martin.
- Professional-LESSim – Due to Dean’s ‘uncommon’ behavior, many people tagged Dean Martin Show as ‘unprofessional.’ True to his nature, Dean did not care about this branding at all. In fact, Dean’s apparently sloppy behavior helped him get more TV and movie projects.
- 1 Emmy Too Many – The Dean Martin Show was nominated 14 times for an Emmy, winning once in 1969 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy, Variety or Music. The show also earned 3 Golden Globe nominations, with Martin winning once in 1967 for Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series.
- Collapsing Piano – one recurring segment in the show features Martin leaping onto his pianist Ken Lane’s piano and throw gag lyrics in an attempt to make latter laugh and lose his concentration; in one episode, a phony piano (which replaced the real piano being used by Lane) collapsed when Martin tried to jump onto it.
- 2 Martin Solos – Martin would sing 2 solo numbers per episode, one being a serious ballad. In addition, he would join his celebrity guests in song medleys. Some of the lyrics of these duets were deliberately altered by Lee Hale to suit the performers and the show’s comedic vibe.
- Mystery Voice Contest – aside from Martin not knowing who the celebrity guests would be for the episode, the show also had a “Mystery Voice Contest” for one season. In this segment, Martin would invite viewers to write in and guess who was singing a song.
- Martin and the Puppets – when the show first aired in 1965, the Kroft Puppets appeared in 8 episodes. Sid and Marty Kroft said that they were fired after Liberace’s fan club sent thousands of letters to Martin (many of which were awful) saying that “there isn’t enough puppetry on the show”.
- DJ Dino Vino – each episode finale was a production number featuring Martin and his guest stars, often a musical sketch where Martin appears as a disc jockey named Dino Vino playing an old record, with he and his guests mouthing the words of the song.
- The Regulars – in the show’s later seasons, regular performers were cast in different sketches. These include Dom DeLuise, Nipsey Russell, Kay Medford, and Lou Jacobi. Other guests with recurring roles in the show were Leonard Barr, Tom Bosley, Guy Marks, Marian Mercer, Rodney Dangerfield, Charles Nelson Reilly, and bandleader Les Brown (who also became a regular). After being canceled in 1974, a series of Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials were held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, a tradition that continued until 1984.
If we watch The Dean Martin Show today, some of us may get turned off by the playboy banter, the offensive remarks, and the seemingly work-shy attitude of the host. However, we must keep in mind that most of this was an act he put on for the sake of the show. After all, if he were a lazy person, Martin definitely wouldn’t have shown up for all these episodes year after year!