This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (August 2020)
|The Dean Martin Show|
|Genre||Variety / comedy|
|Written by||Arnie Kogen|
|Directed by||Greg Garrison|
|Presented by||Dean Martin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||264|
|Production locations||NBC Studios|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 16, 1965 -|
April 5, 1974
|Followed by||The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast|
The Dean Martin Show, not to be confused with the Dean Martin Variety Show (1959-1960), is a TV variety-comedy series that ran from 1965 to 1974 for 264 episodes. It was broadcast by NBC and hosted by Dean Martin. The theme song to the series was his 1964 hit "Everybody Loves Somebody."
The series was a staple for NBC, airing Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. for eight years until its move to Fridays at 10:00 p.m. for the final season and a change in format. It was more popular among white-collar workers than with blue-collar ones; a 1968 survey ranked the show #2 overall among white-collar workers and the highest-ranked first-run series (the highest-rated show among white collar workers was a Saturday night movie umbrella showcase), ranking ahead of the overall first place program The Andy Griffith Show in that demographic.
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, a series of specials spun off from the final season, generated solid ratings for 10 years on NBC.
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." (The terms of employment, and not having to appear for rehearsals, allowed Martin to appear in a series of Matt Helm films concurrent with the show's run, as well as other projects such as a co-starring role in the first Airport film in 1970.)
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 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.
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 in eight episodes. Sid and Marty Krofft recall that they were fired because of an incident involving Liberace, for whom they had previously worked, and who was a great fan of their puppets. Sid Krofft states: "And he [Liberace] asked his fan club to write Dean Martin a letter and tell Dean Martin that there isn't enough puppetry on the show." Many of the letters were nasty and came in great numbers: "And so, can you imagine getting over 250 thousand letters like that in a matter of a couple of weeks, and well, he really didn't like that and fired us."
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 the first. Dean Martin's 1966 summer series proved so successful that two seasons later it spawned one of television's most memorable series, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
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 1930s. 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 as hosts and six-foot-six dancer Tommy Tune was featured.
The Golddiggers also toured the nation's nightclubs as a live attraction. 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.
Emmy Award Nominations
Golden Globe Award Wins
Golden Globe Award Nominations
In mid-2007, NBC Universal filed suit in U.S. District Court against several parties, including Guthy-Renker, claiming copyright infringement, forcing Guthy-Renker to temporarily withdraw the DVDs from sale. The lawsuit dealt with a dispute over rights to footage used in the DVD series, material for which NBC claimed it still held the copyright. The conflict was discovered when NBC Universal looked into plans to release its own DVD set. The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials were not affected by the litigation.
Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit was longtime Dean Martin Show producer Greg Garrison. NBC claimed that Garrison had rights only to use excerpts from selected episodes of the show for the DVDs, episodes that the network claimed Garrison had purchased years earlier for a syndicated run of the show from 1979 to 1981. Garrison died in 2005 before the lawsuit was brought forward.
Total revenues from DVD sales of The Dean Martin Show have been rumored to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The shows have not been aired on television since their original telecasts.
A new package of DVDs was released on May 24, 2011 by Time-Life Video. Unlike the earlier Guthy-Renker collection, which was marketed via mail-order subscription, the new sets were aimed largely at the retail sector. NBC disclosed its participation with Time-Life on the project.
Dean's daughter Deana Martin claimed that the first Time-Life sets had sold so well that a second collection was being planned, and that she would be contributing commentary for it. The second release of DVDs produced by Time-Life was titled King of Cool: The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show and was made available in one- and six-disc configurations.
Only the first appearance by each guest star is listed.