Who could ever forget the incredible comic duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. They met quite unspectacularly when a mutual friend introduced them on the street corner in New York. They went their separate ways, running into each other a few times over the next year.
But in 1946, the two were both booked at the same club for separate performances. They both watched each other’s act and chimed in throughout the evening. It was clear that they enjoyed each other’s humor and played well off of one another.
Later that year they would both perform at the 500 Club with Dean singing and Jerry performing a comedy act. After a few nights, the two began to perform an act together that combined both of their talents for humor. They were a huge hit and a dynamic duo was born.
They continued performing in clubs and then they made the radio circuit. Eventually they go their own show The Martin and Lewis Show that ran from 1949-1952 on NBC.
The Martin and Lewis Show was a comedy and variety show that featured the two performers along with several other big names. The very first guest star was Lucille Ball – and it didn’t get much better than that in 1949!
The show was not wildly popular because the act of Lewis and Martin was very visual. In fact, many listeners disliked the show because of Jerry Lewis’s screechy voice – though no one could complain about the smooth vocals of Dean Martin. However, the radio show did launch the duos success and led to the production of many Martin and Lewis movies.
When the age of television arrived, the comedy duo had more success appearing on shows such as Toast of the Town and The Colgate Comedy Hour. The television venue allowed viewers to see the visual act and get in on the jokes. The two became wildly popular and had millions of fans.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are legends to this day. The two performed together until 1956 when they broke up their act. In the following years they would only be seen performing together three times.
In 1995, Martin passed away due to lung failure largely a result of smoking. Jerry Lewis is still living and can still be seen making appearances for the Muscular Dystrophy Association – particularly on the yearly telethons.