Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis – The Premiere Comedy Duo

Franck DominiqueAugust 21, 2017Views 107

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis both had separate comedy stage acts before meeting each other in New York in 1945.

A year later, at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, the two teamed up for an act together, which quickly bombed with the rehearsed and pre-scripted material they had come up with. To avoid being fired by the club’s owner, the two men decided to ad-lib their way through the next night’s act, with Jerry Lewis constantly interrupting Dean Martin’s song intros and by dropping everything he held in his hands.

This would be the beginning of a routine that would become a signature for them.

After a very popular run at New York’s famed Copacabana nightclub, the two were offered a radio series that premiered on NBC in 1949 and lasted until 1953. The same year their radio show began, the team was signed to Paramount Pictures for the film, My Friend Irma, and receiving a very lucrative deal for that time. Both men only received $75,000 for their films, however Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin were able to freely do at least one film outside of Paramount, plus had complete control of their appearances from radio, live performances, records, and television appearances, netting both several million dollars.

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin


From 1949 until 1956, Martin and Lewis made 17 movies together.

Including their first cameo appearance (Hope and Crosby’s sixth Road movie, Road to Bali) and their first color feature film (Money from Home, which is also their only film in 3-D). Throughout these years and though wildly successful, Dean Martin began to suffer in the role of straight man and feeling chaffed at being unable to advance his singing hopes, while Jerry Lewis began to take more of an ambitious role in his part of funny guy. This caused arguments between the two and in 1956, after filming their last film together (Hollywood or Bust), they went their separate ways.

Dean Martin’s career reached new heights as a solo actor, becoming a recording artist for both Capitol Records and Reprise; starring in such movies as Rio Bravo (with John Wayne) and the Matt Helm series of movies; his own hit variety series (The Dean Martin Show); and most notably becoming a member of the famous Rat Pack headed by Frank Sinatra. Jerry Lewis had his own string of successful movies (notably The Nutty Professor and The Bellboy), though his film career began to slide by the early 1970s.

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin

The split of their team and their animosity towards each other was legendary, but both men would reconcile their differences in their later years of the lives and before Dean Martin’s death in 1995. Lewis has shown within his memoirs, Dean and Me – A Love Story, that despite the later turmoil in their partnership, he still regarded his partner as a great talent and one of the great comic geniuses of all time. Jerry Lewis died on August 20, 2017, at the age of 91.

Watch free online “At War with the Army” with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

Franck Dominique
Follow me

Franck Dominique

Franky is a cinema addict. He especially likes movies and TV Series from 50's, 60's and 70's. He writes about cinema (movies, series, celebrities). Please like, share and comment below. Thank you!
Franck Dominique
Follow me

Leave a comment

Name *
Add a display name
Email *
Your email address will not be published

eighteen + 7 =