While filming True Grit (1969), John Wayne was trying to keep his weight off with drugs - uppers for the day, downers to sleep at night. Occasionally, he got the pills mixed up, and this led to problems on a The Dean Martin Comedy Hour (1965) taping in 1969. Instead of taking an upper before leaving for the filming, he took a downer - and was ready to crash by the time he arrived on the set. "I can't do our skit," Wayne reportedly told Dean Martin when it was time to perform. "I'm too doped up. Goddamn, I look half smashed!" Naturally, Martin didn't have a problem with that. "Hell, Duke, people think I do the show that way all the time!" The taping went on as scheduled. See more »
At one time the most suggestive show on television, Dean's show not only commented on other variety shows (a form in decline even in the mid-sixties) but continued in spinoff form with the later 'roast' format, a homage to the Friars' Club affairs of society page legend. Dean was able to use his own singing, joking and acting in a situation that could lampoon the past, push the envelope in risk and still seem like good, semi-clean fun. Spontaneity (in short supply after the invention of videotape) was literally forced on the actors and crew by doing (consciously or not) what Jackie Gleason did or didn't do - he showed up minutes before airtime knowing the sketch but totally unrehearsed with the other players. Whatever happened, happened. When it was on the money, it was a high point in midcentury comedy.
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