"There is little I can say about this man that he has not already said himself." - Billy Crystal
Man, those were the days. Every once in a while Dean Martin would put on a gala Celebrity Roast that brought together some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. They were held at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel, and a wide shot of the audience always revealed a packed house for the guest of honor. At the time of this event in 1974, Muhammad Ali was World Heavyweight Chamion and at the top of his game. Celebrity roasters on the panel this evening included a wide assortment of stars including Billy Crystal, Gabe Kaplan, Freddie Prinze, Tony Orlando and Red Buttons. From the sports world you had Wilt Chamberlain and former World Champion boxers Rocky Graziano and Floyd Patterson. Howard Cosell was also on hand to verbally spar with the guest of honor and Dino himself, and had to protect his hairpiece a number of times before the night was over. The funniest routine was offered up by Ruth Buzzi who always showed up at these events as her (Rowan and Martin) Laugh-In character Gladys Ormphby. With her trademark handbag, Buzzi wailed away on Dean to the delight of the audience, and when she started in on the Champ she just couldn't stop. Physically carried off by members of the dais more than once, the MGM crowd went wild with laughter as she took her routine way over the top. If you weren't around at the time, it would probably come as a shocker to most viewers today to see and hear these comic greats as they knocked off one liners at each other that used terms like 'spic', 'spook' and 'whitey' without anyone being offended because these guys were all friends who had respect for each other and could take it just as well as they could dish it out. From today's vantage point I miss those days and miss the entertainers who have passed on who made us laugh and encouraged us not to take ourselves so seriously.
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