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October 12, 2014 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Don Rickles roasts Jerry Lewis (and gets slapped in the face by Milton Berle) A few other roasts: Sammy Davis Jr. Ronald Reagan Barry Goldwater Red Foxx Jonathan Winters roasts Johnny Carson Jackie Gleason Jimmy Stewart

The final (1973–74) season of Dean Martin's variety show would be retooled into one of celebrity roasts, requiring less involvement. After the show's cancellation, NBC continued to air The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast format in a series of TV specials through 1984. In those 11 years, Martin and his panel of pals made fun of stars in this order: Ronald Reagan, Hugh Hefner, Ed McMahon, William Conrad, Kirk Douglas, Bette Davis, Barry Goldwater, Johnny Carson, Wilt Chamberlain, Hubert Humphrey, Carroll O'Connor, Monty Hall, Jack Klugman & Tony Randall, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leo Durocher, Truman Capote, Don Rickles, Ralph Nader, Jack Benny, Redd Foxx, Bobby Riggs, George Washington, Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, Bob Hope, Telly Savalas, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Landon, Evel Knievel, Valerie Harper, Muhammad Ali, Dean Martin himself, Dennis Weaver, Joe Garagiola, Danny Thomas, Angie Dickinson, Gabe Kaplan, Ted Knight, Peter Marshall, Dan Haggerty, Frank Sinatra, Jack Klugman, Jimmy Stewart, George Burns, Betty White, Suzanne Somers, Joan Collins, Kent McCord, Martin Milner, and Mr. T.

BONUS LINK: Don Rickles on Jimmy Kimmel (May 2014)
posted by Nevin (19 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
God I love Jonathan Winters. And its amazing watching that clip because you can see so much of Robin Williams, who idolized Winters, in his facial expressions (or vice versa, rather).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:22 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on October 12, 2014

I'm one minute into the Jimmy Stewart version and I'm already laughing hysterically. Orson Welles is as big as a goddamn house, and he's wearing a cape, fluffy shirt and an ascot.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:34 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

OMG Dean Martin is so plowed he can barely speak, and he's introducing Jimmy Stewart, who is a straight-up fucking WAR hero.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:36 PM on October 12, 2014

And surprisingly, Orson Welles, even in his ascot and frills, honors Jimmy Stewart as he should be honored.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:01 PM on October 12, 2014

I think the Dean Martin drunk thing was more of an act than he often lead on. Or at least that what the internet said the last time I googled it.
posted by nevercalm at 3:18 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ooh, I love these old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. I know the whole "Oh no! Dean Martin is drunk!" thing was a bit, but you'd see people get actually hammered at these things.

Out of completely nowhere, "...and Senator Barry Goldwater!"
posted by Sphinx at 3:21 PM on October 12, 2014

This was such a big deal in my house that it was one of the few times I was allowed to stay up late for something on TV. Of course a lot of the humor went over my head so my favorites were Nipsey Russell because I got that he made up funny poems, and Foster Brooks his funny "drunk" voice. For all the clashing and butting heads I went through with my dad, he gave me a great early education in comedy.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:30 PM on October 12, 2014

I'm surprised that more people haven't seen these. All the ones I've seen have Don Rickles as the closer, and if you don't appreciate Rickles, you just don't understand comedy.

Also mid-70's racism and sexism is on full display here. Just watch how the reaction shots are edited in when a woman or someone black makes a particularly funny joke, they'll cut to the women or whomever's black on the dais.
posted by Catblack at 4:26 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

This made me roar the first time I saw it: Foster Brooks roasts Don Rickles
posted by evilcolonel at 6:06 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don Rickles is a national treasure.
posted by photoslob at 7:51 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

His trade nickname alone kills me - "Mr. Warmth."
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 PM on October 12, 2014

Had a hard time getting through the relentless barrage of misogyny in the Jimmy Stewart one and flaked out before Orson Welles came on. Sorry Orson.

Are they all like that?
posted by motty at 8:38 PM on October 12, 2014

Having Jimmy Stewart do an impression of himself was amazing.

I don't think I could do a convincing impression of myself if I tried.
posted by device55 at 10:24 PM on October 12, 2014

Or like had lessons
posted by device55 at 10:25 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

motty: Are they all like that?
Yes. Mad Men would be a documentary if it had more ugly people in it.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:58 AM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was surprised by all the smoking on-screen, plus all of references to "my people" and "Jews" and so on.

Some of roasts were a little schmaltzy and artificial, but then again some really hit the bulls-eye.
posted by Nevin at 12:00 PM on October 13, 2014

The George Takei Shatner roast is pretty excellent.
posted by Nevin at 12:02 PM on October 13, 2014

Totally down the rabbit hole on this one. Such a fascinating time. Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey trading comic civilities - indeed, even with all the racist stuff, it seems like a much much more civil time, even between politicians. What a notion. Somehow the idea that we get to celebrate each other even when we disagree has gotten lost. More on that another time. I was struck too by the very end of Don Rickles bit at the end of his Roast (at about 1.14:00 and thereafter). Amazing.
posted by emmet at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2014

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