"Who knows, the broad might get hot again". - Milton Berle
I used to try and catch as many of these Celebrity Roasts as I could back in the day. Watching this one tonight from 1975, I couldn't get over how many of the premier Hollywood super stars of the day turned out to honor Lucy - Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Henry Fonda, Ginger Rogers, Jack Benny, Don Rickles, and fellow performer from the 'I Love Lucy' Show for all those years, Vivian Vance. Gale Gordon was also on hand, having worked with her on the 'The Lucy Show' of the mid-Sixties. By this time, Lucy had already been married to husband Gary Morton for thirteen years, so the jokes about Desi Arnaz didn't sting as much. Of the members of the dais, it appeared that Ginger Rogers had known Lucy the longest, going back as far as the mid 1930's. So there was some history at that table.
Rickles was great as usual - "What a night, who we honoring"? Rich Little provided the voices of absent guests like Carol Channing, Paul Lynde and Johnny Carson. As was often the case with these roasts, Ruth Buzzi showed up as her 'Laugh-In' character Gladys Ormphby and brought the MGM Palace down with her hilarious routine. I couldn't remember if she smacked Lucy with her pocketbook way back when, but after she wailed on Dino, she got a few good licks in on the guest of honor too.
I miss those days looking back on them now. All those great stars could get together and have some fun without getting vulgar and mean spirited, and you could tell the honorees were genuinely humbled by the attention. Sadly, most of them are gone now, but their spirit lives on in the great work they produced to keep an earlier generation entertained. The Dean Martin Roasts are a good way to bring that fun back if only for a brief hour or two.
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