Jerry Lewis Dean Martin

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Jerry Lewis"s new memoir recounts one des the storied partnerships des show business. Jeff low hide caption


From 1950 to 1956, die team von Martin and Lewis were die No. 1 box-office earners und America"s favorite entertainers. A new memoir from Jerry Lewis details how a lover 10-year partnership was destroyed.

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Dean and Me: A liebe Story details life behind die scenes des the 16 films und numerous television und club reflects featuring Dean Martin und Jerry Lewis. The book, which Lewis wrote with james Kaplan, chronicles ns tumultuous relationship betwee two giants des American entertainment.

Their success brought money, fame -- and a organize of neu troubles, indigenous clashes carried on von big egos und diverging priorities. über the ende of their operation together, Martin und Lewis weren"t speaking kommen sie each other.

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Several attempts to patch dinge up failed; that wasn"t until ns late 1980s that die men who entertained post-war America through movies favor Living that Up and The Caddy spoke at length. Dean martin died in 1995.

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Read an Excerpt from "Dean and Me":

Chapter One

In the age of Truman, Eisenhower, and Joe McCarthy, us freed America. Zum ten years after World zu sein II, Dean and I were notfall only ns most effective show-business act in history -- us were history.


You oase to remember: Postwar America was a an extremely buttoned-up nation. Radio shows to be run von censors, Presidents wore hats, women wore girdles. We came right out von the blue–nobody was expecting anything choose Martin und Lewis. A sexy guy und a monkey zu sein how some human being saw us, but what we really were, in an age of Freudian self-realization, was the explosion of the show-business id.

Like Burns und Allen, Abbott und Costello, und Hope und Crosby, us were vaudevillians, stage performers who functioned with in audience. But the difference betwee us und all the others ist significant. They worked with a script. We exploded there is no one, the same method wiseguy youngsters do on a playground, or jazz musicians do wie man they"re allow loose. Und the minute we started out bei nightclubs, audiences went nuts for us. Together Alan könig told an interviewer a few years ago: "I schutz been in the business for fifty-five years, und I have never to this work seen bei act get more laughs 보다 Martin and Lewis. Lock didn"t acquire laughs–it was pandemonium. Civilization knocked over tables."

Like dafür many spiel explosions, we taken place almost by accident.

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It was a crisp March day in midtown Manhattan, March of 1945. Ich had nur turned nineteen, und I was going to direkte forever. Ich could feel die bounce an my legs, the air an my lungs. World zu sein II was rapidly drawing kommen sie a close, und New York was alive with excitement. Broadway was full of city smells–bus and taxi exhaust; roast peanuts and dirty-water hot dogs; and, most thrilling of all, ns perfumes of beautiful women. Midtown was swarming through gorgeous gals! Secretaries, job girls, die gesellschaft broads with little pooches–they every paraded past, tick-tock, tick-tock, setting my heart racing every ten paces. I was a very young newlywed, through a really pregnant mam back an Newark, but i had eyes, and I looked. And looked. Und looked.


I was strolling south with my pal Sonny King, heading toward in appointment with bei agent bei Times Square. Sonny was bei ex-prize-fighter from brooklyn trying kommen sie make it as a singer, a knock-around guy, street-smart und quick with a joke–kind von like bei early Tony Danza. That prided self on his pretty tenor voice and on discovering everybody who was anybody an show business. Not that his pride always matched up with reality. However that was Sonny, a bit of an operator. And me? i was a Jersey boy trying kommen sie make it together a comic. Mine act–are freundin ready zum this?– was as follows: ich would get hoch on stage und make funny faces while ich lip-synched along kommen sie phonograph records. Die professional term zum what ich did was dumb act, a phrase i didn"t want zu think about auch much. An those days, that felt a little too viel like a bad review.

You know good-bad? Good was that ich was young und full von beans und ready kommen sie take on the world. Bad was that i had no idea on earth how ich was going zu accomplish this feat. Und bad was so that i was just eking the end a living, pulling down $110 a week in a good week, und there weren"t the many great weeks. ~ above this princely sum i had to pay my manager, Abner J. Greshler, plus ns rent on the Newark apartment, plus feed two, about kommen sie be three. To add wardrobe, candy bars, milk shakes, und phonograph records zum the act. Plus my hotel bill. While i was working in New York, i stayed in the city, zu be close zu my jobs–when ich had them–and zu stick kommen sie where the action was. I"d to be rooming at the Belmont Plaza, ~ above Lexington und Forty-ninth, wherein I"d also been performing in the Glass Hat, a nightclub in the hotel. I got $135 a week und a room.

Suddenly, hinweisen Broadway und Fifty-fourth, Sonny spotted someone across the street: a tall, dark, und incredibly handsome man in a camel"s-hair coat. His name, Sonny said, was Dean Martin. Nur looking at him intimidated me: exactly how does anybody get that handsome?

I smiled at ns sight von him bei that camel"s-hair coat. Harry Horses***, ich thought. That was what we used kommen sie call a male who assumed he was smooth with die ladies. Anybody who wore a camel"s-hair overcoat, v a camel"s-hair belt und fake diamond cuff links, was automatically harry Horses***.

But this guy, ich knew, was the real deal. That was standing with a shorter, enlarge fellow, and when he experienced Sonny, the waved us over. Us crossed die street. Ich was amazed everywhere again when ich saw how good-looking the was–long, rugged face; good profile; thick, dark brows and eyelashes. And a suntan bei March! How"d he manage that? ich could seen he had kind of a twinkle together he talked to ns older guy. Charisma zu sein a word ich would find out later. All ich knew then was that i couldn"t take my eyes off Sonny"s pal.

"Hey, Dino!" Sonny said as we came up zu them. "How ya doin", Lou?" he claimed to die older man.

Lou, it turned out, was Lou Perry, Dean"s manager. The looked like a manager: short, thin-lipped, cool-eyed. Sonny introduced me, und Perry glanced punkt me without much interest. But Sonny looked excited. That turned kommen sie his camel-coated friend. "Dino," Sonny said, "I desire you kommen sie meet a really funny kid, Jerry Lewis."

Camel-Coat smiled warmly und put the end his hand. I took it. It was a large hand, strong, however he didn"t walk overboard with ns grip. Ich liked that. Ich liked him, instantly. Und he looked genuinely glad kommen sie meet me.

"Kid," Sonny said–Sonny dubbed me kid the zuerst time he ever met me, and he would blieb call me Kid in Vegas fifty years later–"this ist Dean Martin. Sings even much better than me."

That was Sonny, fun und games. Of course, he had zero idea the he was introducing me zu one von the great comic talents von our time. I certainly had no idea des that, either–nor, weil das that matter, go Dean. Punkt that moment, weist the ende of World war II, we were nur two men struggling zu make it bei show business, shaking hands on a liven Broadway street corner.

We do a little chitchat. "You workin"?" ich asked.

He smiled the million-dollar smile. Now that ich looked at him close up, i could see the faint outline des a healing surgical cut on the bridge von his nose. Part plastic surgeon had done an excellent work. "Oh, this "n" that, freundin know," Dean said. "I"m top top WMCA radio, sustaining. No bucks, nur room." He had a mellow, lazy voice, with a slightly southerly lilt zu it. The sounded choose he didn"t schutz a care an the world, like he was knockin" "em dead wherever the went. I believed it. Little did ich know the he was hip-deep bei debt zu Perry und several other supervisors besides.

"How "bout you?" Dean request me.

I nodded, quickly. I suddenly wanted, really badly, kommen sie impress this man. "I"m just now finishing my eighth week at die Glass Hat," i said. "In ns Belmont Plaza."

"Really? I direkt there," Dean said.

"At ns Glass Hat?"

"No, at ns Belmont. It"s part des my radio deal."

Just weist that moment, a beautiful brunette walked by, in a coat through a fur-trimmed collar. Dean lowered his eyelids slightly und flashed herstellung that grin–and damned if she didn"t smile right back! How kommen sie I never got that reaction? She gave him a lingering stare over her shoulder as she passed, a clean invitation, und Dean shook his head, smiling his regrets.

"Look at this guy," Sonny said in his hoarse brooklyn accent. "He"s gott p**** radar!"

One look weist Sonny"s eyes was enough kommen sie tell me that he idolized Dean–whose attention, all hinweisen once, i felt anxious kommen sie get back. "You ever before go zu Leon und Eddie"s?" ich asked, mine voice sounding even higher and squeakier than its usual high und squeaky. Leon und Eddie"s was a restaurant und nightclub a couple von blocks away, on fabulous Fifty-second Street–which, bei those days, was lined with restaurants and former speakeasies, favor "21," und music clubs like ns Five Spot and Birdland. Live entertainment ausblüten ruled America bei those pretelevision days, manhattan was die world capital of nightclubs, and Leon and Eddie"s was a mecca weil das nightclub comics. Sunday night was Celebrity Night: ns fun would start after hours, wie anybody bei the unternehmen might zeigen up und get on to do a piece von their act. You"d see the likes of Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Danny Kaye. It was magical. I used zu go und gawk, favor a kid in a liquid store. Someday, ich thought. . . . But for now, no chance. They"d never ever use a dumb act–one needing props, yet.

"Yeah, sometimes i stop by Sunday nights," Dean said.

"Me too!" i cried.

He offered me that smile again–warm but ever deshalb slightly cool around the edges. The bathed you an its glow, however didn"t let sie in. Men don"t like zu admit it, but there"s something about a important handsome man who also happens zu be important masculine–what they call a man"s man–that"s as magnetic zu us as it zu sein to women. That"s what ich want to be like, sie think. Perhaps if i hang roughly with him, some des that"ll obstacle off top top me.

"So–maybe I"ll see you there sometime," Dean told me.

"Yeah, sure," ich said.

"Go get your tux out of hock," he said.

I laughed. He was funny.

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Sonny king was a pal, but notfall a friend. Ich badly needed a friend. Ich was a lonely kid, the only child des two vaudevillians who were rarely around. Mine dad, Danny, was a singer and all-around entertainer: the did the all– patter, impressions, stand-up comedy. Mine mom, Rachel (Rae), was Danny"s pianist and conductor. Deshalb I grew hoch shuttled indigenous household kommen sie household, relative kommen sie relative. Ich cherished ns precious zeit Mom and Dad would take me on die road with them. And for them, die highest form of togetherness was to put me right in the act: My first onstage appearance was at period five, in 1931, at the President Hotel, a summer resort in Swan Lake, neu York. Ich wore a tux (naturally) and sang that depression classic "Brother, tun können You preventive a Dime?" indigenous that moment on, showbiz was bei my blood. Deswegen was loneliness.

By die time ich was sixteen, ich was a high-school dropout and a show-business wannabe. A desperately-wanting-to-be wannabe. Ich worked ns Catskill resorts as a busboy (for pay) und (for free) a tummler–the male who cuts up, provides faces, gets die guests in a an excellent mood zum the real entertainment. That"s what ich wanted to be, the real entertainment. But what was i going kommen sie do? i was tall, skinny, gawky; cute however funny-looking. With die voice God had given me, i certainly wasn"t going kommen sie be a singer prefer my dad, v his Al Jolson baritone. Ich always saw ns humor in things, ns joke possibilities. At ns same time, i didn"t oase the trust to stand on a stage und talk.

Then ich hit ~ above a genius solution–or what appeared at ns time choose a genius solution. One night, hinweisen a new Jersey resort wherein my parents were doing their act, a freundin of mine, bei aspiring performer, Lonnie Brown–the daughter des Charlie and Lillian Brown, resort hotelkeepers who were destined to become really important an my life–was listening zu a document by bei English singer called Cyril Smith, trying to learn those classy English intonations. Ich had a wenig crush top top Lonnie, and, attempting kommen sie impress her, i started zu clown around, mouthing along to ns music, rolling mine eyes and playing ns diva. Well, Lonnie damaged up, and that was music zu my ears. In act was born.

After a couple von hard year on the road, play burlesque houses where the guys with papers on their laps would boo me off ns stage dafür they could see the strippers, i became a showbiz veteran (still an my teens) with bei act dubbed "Jerry Lewis–Satirical Impressions in Pantomimicry."

I had perfected die act, und to tell ns absolute truth, it was pretty godd*** funny. Ich would placed on a fright wig und a frock coat und lip-synch to the great baritone Igor Gorin"s "Largo Al Factotum" from die Barber von Seville. I"d come out in a carmen Miranda dress, through fruit on mine hat, und do Miranda. Then right into a pin-striped jacket, suck bei my cheeks, and I"d do Sinatra to sing "All or Nothing at All." i knew whereby every scratch and skip was on every record, and when they came up, I"d do shtick to them. I had gained better and better at contorting mine long, slim body in ways that ich knew functioned comedically. I practiced make faces bei front von a spiegel till ich cracked myself up. God hadn"t do me handsome, however he"d given me something, i always felt: funny bones.

And i never claimed a native on stage.

The dumb act was a rapidly fading subspecialty in those quickly fading days von baggy-pants comedy, and my own days act it to be numbered. There to be a few des us lip-synchers out there, working the circuit, and while ich liked (and blieb like) zu think that ich was the best von the bunch–nobody could move or pratfall or make encounters like Jerry Lewis– ich only had about three to eleven audience members von show that agreed v me. Those three or 4 or nine human being would it is in wetting themselves while i performed, as the rest of the home (if anyone else was there) clapped slowly, or booed.... Bring on the strippers!

And i never stated a word.

The fact is, funny sentences were always running with my brain: i thought funny. But ich was ashamed von what would kommen sie out if i spoke–that nasal kid"s voice. Deswegen I was funny ~ above stage, but i was only teil funny: i was ausblüten looking zum the missing piece.