Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

July 24th Celebrates Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were an American comedy duo, comprising singer Dean Martin and comedian Jerry Lewis, met in 1945 and debuted at Atlantic City’s 500 Club, and on July 25, 1946 ended their partnership.

Before they teamed up, Martin was a nightclub singer, while Lewis did a comedy act lip-synching to records. They performed in nightclubs, and, starting in 1949, on radio. Later they branched out into television and films.

Today’s YouTube video clip brought to you by user name Indy7888, gives you an idea of their stage routine together in 1950, singing in the rain.

They met as nobodies, became best friends and superstars, but ended up refusing to speak to each other. Now, in a new book, Jerry Lewis has come clean about his relationship with Dean Martin.

In their early radio days they performed as Martin and Lewis but later became hugely popular as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

These full names helped them launch successful solo careers after parting.

Dean was Jerry’s hero, ideal, model, chum and chaperone. Jerry was nobody until he met Dean and, to be fair, vice versa. Coming from literally nowhere, the pair rode a skyrocketing 10-year career that made them staples of American showbiz for the rest of their lives.

Yet for all this latter bitterness, Jerry to this day professes an undying love for his former partner. Dean passed away a decade ago while the rest of the world was having Christmas supper, and Jerry is marking the anniversary with the release of a memoir, Dean and Me: A Love Story.

It contains revelations and confessions of mobsters and women and golf matches and drunken sprees, and it seems Dean has grown as a comedian and a man in his former partner’s eyes since his death.

Certain things, however, are beyond dispute. In July, 1946, a 19-year-old comic pantomimist Jerry Lewis born Jerome Levitch and a 29-year-old Italian crooner born Dino Crocetti, who had a slight previous acquaintance based on common friends and a couple of shared bookings, teamed up as a singing comedy act at the 500 Club on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

The act came together because Jerry had been bombing on his own and begged Dean’s manager to send the singer down from New York to save his skin. Jerry was performing a “dummy” or “record” act; he would bring a Victrola out on stage with him and comically lip-synch and distort himself while various records played.

Ever the control freak, Jerry had another important bit of input to the team’s image, one that cemented the world’s impressions of both men. Each stood about 6ft 1in, but Jerry added lifts to Dean’s shoes and had the soles and heels of his own shaved so that Dean appeared taller; on top of that, Jerry always worked in a crouch, so that the Monkey, as he referred to himself, never seemed equal to Dean’s Handsome Man.

Dean, who had been a blackjack dealer and a boxer before hitting on singing as a career, wasn’t blind to Jerry’s machinations, and he dismissed his partner’s ambitions to comic genius as “Chaplin shit” but he had people whispering earnestly in his ear that Jerry was holding him back from greater things, and Jerry had sycophants giving him similar advice.

They fought openly on film sets and privately behind the scenes. They tried to split as early as 1954 but were bound to their contracts by their film and television masters.

Finally, they separated for good precisely on the 10th anniversary of their 500 Club debut, playing a farewell show at the Copacabana on July 25, 1946.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


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