The other night, I had to finish writing something and I fell into the giant, wonderfully entertaining trap that is YouTube. For somebody like me who loves show business, sports and movies it is a virtual treasure trove of endless delights. I just typed in a name of a favorite star like Dean Martin for instance and I can literally spend hours watching stuff of just one favorite star. Dean Martin is a particular favorite of mine, he's such a gifted performer who made everything seem so effortless and he was possibly along with Robert Mitchum and few others, one of the coolest people to ever live. My friend, Nick Tosches wrote the seminal show business biography featuring Dean Martin as it's subject titled Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, a wonderful book.
I searched through the dozens of posts of Dino doing his thing. I chose his amazing cigarette flicking into funnyman George Gobel's "coffee" cup on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Gobel comes out and Bob Hope is on the panel with Dino. Johnny is chatting with Gobel and Dino's flicking his ever present cigarette's ashes into the unknowing comedian's cup as the audience, Hope and Johnny are cracking up. Howard Stern often cites this as his favorite old Tonight Show moment. Johnny Carson, my old man's favorite, was very cool and the finest talk show host ever, is wearing one helluva an ascot type thing in this clip.
After that I find an interesting and serious clip of Dean singing a doing a bang up job on a song not normally associated with him like "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)". This is one of the all-time great standards written by Johnny Mercer and a personal favorite. It's like a Hemingway short story as a song.
From there, I end up watching one of the episodes of Dino's variety show (The Dean Martin Show) from the late 60's which is incredible in the way it was done. He didn't rehearse! He just went in and they shot the show and he'd often have as many as 4 guests doing songs and comedy sketches. Dino would show up, wear a tux and Producer Greg Garrison would tape the show. The guests for this particular show were The Andrews Sisters, Frank Gorshin ( a terrific impressionist and best known as "The Riddler" from Batman), Duke Ellington and Lainie Kazan (then a buxom young starlet best known at the time as Streisand's understudy on Broadway in Funny Girl.) What a lineup! The true highlight of this show was Frank Gorshin, doing his truly excellent impressions and using the heat from his Emmy nomination from Batman to do a scene from Batman with Gorshin doing great turns as Burt Lancaster as "Batman" and Kirk Douglas as "Robin." Then Mr. Gorshin sends up Method acting titans Marlon Brando as "Batman" and Rod Steiger as "Robin," which is really funny. This guy was a really gifted impressionist, much better than Rich Little or Fred Travelena. Dino comes out and trades a few riddles with his guest then a true oddity that was so fun on the old variety shows, Gorshin sings a song with "The Golddiggers" (the regular chorus of hot babes on the show) to style of the Batman theme song called "I'm the Riddler." This was truly weird and funny. I actually think that it was released as a single. Back in the 60's, everybody who was famous released a record. Ever check the vinyl in an old record store? You'll find some serious gold. One time during the early 90's, I was in the East 20's and Gorshin was in a parking garage waiting for his car and I recognized him and told him that I was a big fan and he looked at me with that intense stare and said "thanks kid!" Gorshin also had a featured role in one of my favorite movies, the western Warlock, with Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark and Anthony Quinn, directed by Edward Dmytryk from the great book of the same name by Oakley Hall.
From there a few hours after going on YouTube, I check out the trailer for my favorite film that Dean Martin starred in, writer/director Billy Wilder's great Kiss Me, Stupid. Dean gives a terrific, courageous performance playing a caricature of his "Rat Pack" swinger image. It took the balls of a giant for Dean to completely lampoon himself in a very funny film so full of sexual innuendo that it was banned in many cities for being too risque for audiences at the time. The plot concerns one of Wilder's favorite themes of how a person will do almost anything to get ahead. Amateur songwriters Ray Walston & Cliff Osmond sabotage Dino's sportscar in a detoured stopover en route from Vegas to LA in hopes of selling the singer one of their songs. Walston even offers "Dino" his wife for the evening in hopes of selling the singer a song! Peter Sellers was originally slated to co-star but had a heart attack during the production and was replaced by Walston (best known today as "Mr. Hand" from Fast Times at Ridgemont High). Kim Novak is really sexy and very good playing Walston's hired wife to lure Dino for a good time and Felicia Farr equally good as the real wife who may or may not ended up for a hot night with the swinger. If you ever get a chance to watch this movie, please do yourself a favor and I promise that you will be entertained.
. I hope that you find this entertaining and it gives you what Jimmy Stewart called "little pieces of time..." that one finds enjoyable.