Yesterday I posted a wonderful and somewhat mysterious clip of Dean Martin and Don Knotts from a Dino TV special that aired on November 1, 1960. Today I’m sharing another clip from this rather obscure show featuring Frank Sinatra. It’s a parody of ‘This Is Your Life’ with Dino in the hosts role and Sinatra the butt of the jokes. It’s as much fun as the Dino/Don sketch and Sinatra actually comes off as very funny, not one of his greatest talents. Nick Tosches posited that one of the reasons Sinatra loved and envied Dean was because of how effortless he made everything seem, especially his ability to make the audience laugh without explicitly trying to be funny. Whenever Sinatra tried to lighten things up over the years it generally left a sour taste. His material was generally insult humor and always came across as just plain nasty instead of ‘roast’ funny.

I’ve become a little obsessed over the past 24 hours trying to figure out what this special actually was–IMDB doesn’t refer to a Martin special from 1960 but does mention one in 1959 featuring Bob Hope and Mae West (which weirdly I’ve not found on YouTube). But further research uncovered an anthology television show I’ve never heard of called Ford Startime. This was a grab bag of different hosts and formats–some were dramatic shows (including Jerry Lewis in an hour tab version of ‘The Jazz Singer’), some were variety format like this one. The show aired from 1959 through 1961 and it appears that Dean hosted it at least twice. The material is very strong and I wonder why it took another five years for Dean to get his own weekly show. He was known by those close to him to only do things when he wanted to–he was immovable and if he felt pushed he’d generally respond by refusing to respond at all. So its likely that he just didn’t give a crap about doing a regular show…until he decided he did give a crap and did one. More about the Ford Startime Theater as our week progresses…


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