While filming True Grit, 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 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 »
"The Dean Martin Show," which ran on NBC for nine seasons starting in September 1965, always seemed less like a variety show than a subtle parody of the format. In that sense, it was almost a forerunner of David Letterman's show which pokes fun at the conventional TV talk show by maintaining a slightly subversive air. Martin, of course, was legendary for his casual, spontaneous persona, and everything about his variety show seemed casual and spontaneous, no doubt due to the star's refusal to rehearse. It was obvious that Martin was reading most of his lines from cue cards since he even made jokes about doing so. The sloppy, slightly unprofessional atmosphere that permeated many of his movies at this time, worked on television, making "The Dean Martin Show" one of the more interesting variety shows of the era.
The first episode is available on videocassette in a black-and-white version. Frank Sinatra sings the title track from his Grammy winning "September of My Years" album, Joey Heatherton does a bump and grind, Diahann Carroll warbles a tune, Bob Newhart does a comedy routine, and Dino croons a few bars of "Everybody Loves Somebody" and also performs his hit, "Houston." It's a reasonably pleasant time capsule from a bygone era, and nothing more.
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