Thursday, November 16, 2017

.....the closest thing comedy has ever come to Beatlemania, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were world famous and two of the first entertainers to conquer radio, television, film, comic books, records and live performance all at once.

Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin

Hey pallies, likes as of late we have been totally thrilled to share many a potent post accentin' the remarkable relationship between our most beloved Dino and his most beloved partner Mr. Jerry Lewis, and quites a number of 'em have been of an incredibly international nature in scope.  Likes today 'though we may not have had to sail the seven seas to share today's Dino-devotion as it comes from north of our borders in Canada and is truly truly a touchin' and tender reverent reflection on our Dino and Mr. Lewis  from the supreme scribin's of Mr. Nicholas Arnold at his self-tagged blog, "Nicholas Arnold."  Mr. Arnold's bio tells us that he  "is a prominent stage actor and successful filmmaker" who makes his home in Toronto."

"In 2012, Nicholas took his one man show “A Tribute to Jerry Lewis”, and toured it around the Greater Toronto Area to various retirement homes and communities eventually landing a place on the larger theatre circuit and premiering it at the 700-seat Orillia Opera House.  Nicholas, alongside Ontario favourite Derek Marshall, is part of the original cast of "Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been" currently on tour."'

Likes youse can see that Arnold has strong connections to both our most beloved Dino and his most beloved partner, Mr. Jerry Lewis.  On the heels of Mr. Lewis' passin' Mr. Arnold posted his wisely written words on Martin & Lewis, "Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and How friendship Breakups Are Hard To Do."  Below we are sharin' the pertinent parts of his energetic essay that relate directly to our Dino and Mr Lewis.

We can certainly not do justice to ever begin to describe the incredibly intriguin' insights that Nicholas has on the closer then close relationship that our Dino and Mr. Lewis had as partners in comedy and as the most intimate of friends.  We simply invite you to read his words for yourselves and soak in each and every wonderful word.  We solemnly salute Mr. Nicholas Arnold for the tremendous amount of time, energy, and love that he has poured into this remarkable read.  We wish him our best in both of his about Mr. Lewis, and one about Martin & Lewis.

To checks this out in it's original source to read it in total, simply clicks on the tag of this Dino-gram.

We remain,

Yours in Dino,

Dino Martin Peters

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and How Friendship Breakups Are Hard To Do
October 9, 2017
Nicholas Arnold

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were 10 years apart when they teamed up, each piggy-backing off the others' talents – Jerry, the monkey and Dean, the crooner. They weren't the only comedy duo at the time. Abbott and Costello were indeed a big deal along with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. But something was different about Martin and Lewis – something audiences everywhere noticed right away. These two got along. Not in a schmaltzy, pretend kind of way. They really, truly got along and were more caught up in the idea of making each other laugh than the audience. Jerry and Dean were simply having fun with each other on stage. Audiences were lucky to watch. Their friendship was famous and they seemed to compliment each other perfectly in a way that has made more modern audiences, looking back on old footage, question whether or not the two were in fact secret lovers (something Atom Egoyan explored in his mystery/thriller 'Where the Truth Lies', very loosely based on a crooner/comic duo in the vain of Martin and Lewis).

They were that close; a love shared between two men that was as strong as brotherhood. And they were a hit; the closest thing comedy has ever come to Beatlemania, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were world famous and two of the first entertainers to conquer radio, television, film, comic books, records and live performance all at once. For two young guys in the late 1940s, its a wonder they kept their feet on the ground long enough to pull off two impressive solo careers later on.

Their fateful partnership spanned a decade; their bond growing stronger as their wallets and fame grew. But time can be rough on friendships that close. Jerry's ego ballooned. Ever the entrepreneur, he became controlling with the act, often upstaging Dean. The media didn't help. Jerry was the star of the act in every review and news piece. Naturally, Dean grew to resent this and searched for ways to be taken seriously as a singer – something that was near impossible next to Jerry's incorrigible clown. The final 10 months of their partnership, at the height of their popularity, had them barely speaking to each other. Explosive fights on set, visible tension and rare public appearances had audiences across the globe wondering what would happen with the pair.

Dean and Jerry finally split in 1956 – one year before Abbott and Costello would call their partnership quits. But even a year later, the Martin and Lewis breakup would eclipse Abbott and Costello due to the sheer pain it seemed to cause both the two men involved and the audiences who adored them. At the time of their split they had millions of dollars held up in movie contracts and theatre bookings. The Martin and Lewis machine seemed like it had many years still ahead of it, yet these two were pulling the plug while they were still on top. Their final farewell performance occurred at the Copacabana on July 25th, 1956 – 10 years to the day from their first appearance at the 500 Club in Atlantic City. They closed their act singing Pardners, the title song from one of their last films: “You and me will be the greatest pardners, buddies and pals”. After that, they exited stage right and stage left and wouldn't speak to each other again for 20 years.

At least, that's how the narrative goes. That's certainly the narrative we portray in our stage show. Of course, in reality breakups are much more complicated. Jerry and Dean did part ways; a small, stilted conversation over the phone in their dressing rooms at the end of that July 25th show closed off ten amazing years of fame, fortune and friendship. They went off to pursue their careers, both men immediately jumping into films to make good on the broken Martin and Lewis deal with Paramount. Dean Martin would of course later go on to become a high-flying member of the Rat Pack with pals, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., and Jerry Lewis would become a mammoth in the film and comedy industry and, between the years of 1966 and 2010, would serve as the Chairman and Spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, bringing his famous telethon to life in Las Vegas each year. In a testament to the skills of these two talented individuals, both men went on to have hugely successful careers at a time when many people wondered if one could survive without the other.

The famous story is that they didn't speak to or see each other for 20 years until Frank Sinatra famously surprised Jerry at his telethon in 1976 by having a tipsy Dean Martin walk out unannounced and to huge fanfare from the studio audience and audiences at home. In the clip (which is easy to find on YouTube) two old men, with years of wisdom and experience in their glossy eyes and silver hair, hug and kiss each other on the cheek. It's a touching moment made all the more powerful with the knowledge that this is the first time they're seeing each other in 20 years. In actuality, they did see each other on a few occasions prior to that. Dean would often see Jerry around the Paramount lot, riding in his golf cart and, according to the Nick Toshe biography, “Dino” Jerry would outright avoid Dean if he saw him coming the same way. That is until Dean cornered him saying, 'enough is enough'. But it didn't stop there. Their silence grew with Jerry becoming more and more bitter according to co-stars who worked with him over the decades (Stella Stevens, his co-star in The Nutty Professor recalls being shut out by Jerry after working with Dean on a film). Dean rarely spoke about Jerry – if ever – in any interviews and never wrote any autobiographies so its difficult to know his feelings at the time. Jerry, on the other hand, wore his emotions on his sleeve – and later seemed to change up accounts and embellish tales as he got older. The real cause of the feud and how it was handled after their split remains a bit of a mystery.

But we do know they saw other; an unavoidable side-effect of any breakup. There were three known public appearances (and probably a handful of private ones) over the decades. Dean interrupted Jerry's act for a brief second during the Eddie Fischer Show in 1958 (just two years after their split – he was working in the same studio), the famous 1976 telethon surprise and then once more in 1989.

I think what fascinated myself and amateur nostalgia historians alike in regards to the Martin and Lewis breakup was that it was a type of split not often talked about or portrayed in media; a friendship breakup. Especially one between two men (the stereotype being that men don't go through emotional splits with their friends). By the time we experience our first romantic breakup, we have already seen enough of them in sitcoms, movies, even kid shows to be somewhat prepared for what to experience. The first time one goes through a friendship breakup, especially one as cold and public as Dean and Jerry's, can be a troubling and uncertain time; troubling because it often occurs in our adult years – a time when we don't necessarily expect to go through a second coming of age. And that's really what it is. It's very common to drift apart from close friends over the years. Life and circumstances take over and you gradually and naturally become different people. It's less discussed and in some ways more painful when there is an actual break; a precise moment or a moment carried out over a few months or years where the friendship deteriorates before your very eyes, where you're forced to still see each other despite this corroding bond whether it be due to living environments, school or work. In Jerry's book, “Dean and Me: A Love Story” he writes about the hell of shooting what would be the final Martin and Lewis film, “Hollywood or Bust” – a film Jerry allegedly never saw right up to his dying day. At this point, Dean and Jerry were not saying a word to each other. The camera would stop rolling and they'd walk away, staring past each other, not seeing each other.

Imagine that - going from such a brotherly bond to not knowing a person in a matter of months. The pain of a friendship breakup stems from it being hard to label. It's not a romantic relationship crumbling and people in most cases know how to reach out for support or support their friends in that situation. It's something, in some ways, much more difficult to talk about, describe or even articulate in your own mind as its happening. But the reality is it does happen and perhaps is even more common than we think. It may be that the severing of ties is obvious and blunt or perhaps its more foggy with the cause being unclear and confusing. Either way the grieving process can be similar to that of a romantic breakup. Your world is turned upside down and things won't be the same anymore. As Jerry Lewis sang in his first film after the Martin and Lewis split: “I'll face the unknown, I'll build a world of my own, no one knows better than I myself, I'm by myself, alone”

If Dean and Jerry are any indication, breakups like this aren't clean and tidy and in some cases can last decades. It all depends on the bond that existed before the split, I suppose. After the somewhat awkward 1976 reunion, Dean and Jerry went back to their private lives, not reaching out to one another or rekindling that bond. They remained professional and that was it. Until Dean's son died in a plane crash in 1987. Jerry attended the funeral without being noticed and when word of this got back to Dean he reached out to Jerry, phoning home. According to Jerry this began a new chapter of their friendship, where they would phone each other, occasionally, reminiscing and talking about the future until Dean passed away in 1995.

In 1989, what would be their final public appearance, during Dean Martin's birthday show, Jerry Lewis gave him a taste of his own medicine and shocked him and the audience when he walked out on stage with a cake. “I love you Jer,” Dean said in front of the audience. Jerry replied, “Why we broke up, I'll never know.”

The passage of time is an interesting thing. It can change a person, much like it changed Jerry over the years. It can destroy a relationship. It can foster bitterness and inflate egos.
It can heal wounds.

I think about the Martin and Lewis story often. It's a great tale. And with the death of Jerry Lewis, those who believe in a heaven are quick to say that Dean and Jerry are reunited up there, tap dancing and tearing apart whatever heavenly, holy nightclub exists in the clouds. Maybe. Either way, the book is closed.

The story is done.

And time goes on.


Danny G. said...

Nicholas seems to know his stuff 'bout our pal & Jer. The whole "lovers" thin' sounds kinda crazy to me, but was still a cool read. Thanks for sharin', pallie!

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes Danny-o, Mr. Lewis' tome on his decade with our Dino is subtitled "A Love Story," not the extent of what that means will ever be between our Dino and Mr. Lewis. Keeps lovin' 'n sharin' our most beloved Dino!