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The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Telly Savalas (1974)

TV Movie  -  Comedy  -  15 November 1974 (USA)
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"He's the poster boy for the Massage Parlor Foundation" - Howard Cosell
11 March 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just a quick note for anyone reading this - some of these shows can be found listed as Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts while others are listed as part of the Dean Martin Comedy Hour. The 'Roasts' appear to be the ones done with a longer run time with a bigger name cast, and the person being honored was generally one of your Hollywood or TV legends. There were exceptions, Bette Davis only got a 'Woman of the Week' treatment, while Telly Savalas, not necessarily one of your biggest names, wound up with the more favored honor.

There were quite a few entertainers on hand for this show, and they all did a credible job in poking fun at the guest of honor. Telly was an easy target with his bald head and a bawdy reputation with the ladies. The dais had a well rounded representation from the celebrity world including Phyllis Diller, Howard Cosell, Peter Graves, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine and Angie Dickinson. Since 'Kojak' was a popular hit at the time, there were a handful of actors on hand who also portrayed TV and movie detectives, like Robert 'Elliot Ness' Stack, and Richard 'Shaft' Roundtree. In an amazing impersonation, Top 40 radio personality Casey Kasem portrayed Peter Falk doing his Colombo routine. I actually thought it was Falk until Dino announced who it really was.

The best routines were offered by Don Rickles, always a blast, and believe it or not, Nipsey Russell doing his brand of self deprecating humor that some viewers would probably find politically incorrect today. Since a major theme of the presenters focused on Telly's role as a TV detective, Nipsey offered his take on a couple of famous black detectives - Boston Blackie and Sam Spade. Russell had his own unique way of poking fun at racial stereotypes and provided some good natured laughs while breaking down the color barrier.


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