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Dean and Me: A Love Storyby Jerry Lewis and James Kaplan
Synopses & Reviews
They were the unlikeliest of pairs — a handsome crooner and a skinny monkey, an Italian from Steubenville, Ohio, and a Jew from Newark, N.J. Before they teamed up, Dean Martin seemed destined for a mediocre career as a nightclub singer, and Jerry Lewis was dressing up as Carmen Miranda and miming records on stage. But the moment they got together, something clicked — something miraculous — and audiences saw it at once.
Before long, they were as big as Elvis or the Beatles would be after them, creating hysteria wherever they went and grabbing an unprecedented hold over every entertainment outlet of the era: radio, television, movies, stage shows, and nightclubs. Martin and Lewis were a national craze, an American institution. The millions (and the women) flowed in, seemingly without end — and then, on July 24, 1956, ten years from the day when the two men joined forces, it all ended.
After that traumatic day, the two wouldn't speak again for twenty years. And while both went on to forge triumphant individual careers — Martin as a movie and television star, recording artist, and nightclub luminary (and charter member of the Rat Pack); Lewis as the groundbreaking writer, producer, director, and star of a series of hugely successful movie comedies — their parting left a hole in the national psyche, as well as in each man's heart.
In a memoir by turns moving, tragic, and hilarious, Jerry Lewis recounts with crystal clarity every step of a fifty-year friendship, from the springtime, 1945, afternoon when the two vibrant young performers destined to conquer the world together met on Broadway and Fifty-fourth Street, to their tragic final encounter in the 1990s, when Lewis and his wife ran into Dean Martin, a broken and haunted old man.
In Dean and Me, Jerry Lewis makes a convincing case for Dean Martin as one of the great — and most underrated — comic talents of our era. But what comes across most powerfully in this definitive memoir is the depth of love Lewis felt, and still feels, for his partner, and which his partner felt for him: truly a love to last for all time.
"Over the course of their 10-year partnership, Lewis and Dean Martin made 16 wildly popular movies (they were the world's number one box office earners from 1950 to 1956), but their real strength was their performances in nightclubs, theaters and on television. Audiences found their mixture of music and ad-libbed, irreverent comedic pandemonium intoxicating. The duo's fascinating kinship — Lewis idolized his partner, while Martin was aloof — has been chronicled in Shawn Levy's King of Comedy and Nick Tosches's Dino, but Lewis wants to give his late partner the credit he feels critics missed by always praising the 'the monkey' rather than the straight man. Untangling the complicated union, Lewis doesn't spare himself, admitting that when the team's relationship unraveled (they weren't speaking between scenes on their last film), he became a bully on set and made others the brunt of the anger he couldn't vent at Martin. Lewis is a wonderful raconteur, and his tales capture the excitement of their budding career and the slow, sad erosion of the fun. Whether it's his age (Lewis is 79) or his coauthor (Kaplan co-wrote John McEnroe's You Cannot Be Serious), fans will be surprised and entertained by Lewis's honesty and diminished ego and bitterness. Photos. First serial to Vanity Fair. (On sale Oct. 25)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Not exactly cuddly himself, Lewis does convey the feelings of one lonely entertainer silently pining for approval from another. And his nostalgic evocation of nightclub entertainment's golden age...might make you want to jealously kick in your TV. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"Lewis writes vividly and with candid affection of the pair's glory days, 10 years in which they made almost more money than they knew what to do with, sometimes gambling it away recklessly, but mostly just having a blast....This is a wild, joyous book, but also a heartbreaking one." Stephanie Zackareck, The New York Times Book Review
"This candid memoir examines the tumultuous yet productive relationship that developed between the two as they spent 10 years performing live shows and making movies....
"Give Lewis credit for selective candor, but what he reveals about himself in the process of telling his side of the...story is often more trenchant than his conflicted report of what went wrong..." Kirkus Reviews
"Those seeking a more objective account of Martin and Lewis should look elsewhere; those interested in an intimate account of the long, strange relationship between these two gifted show business legends will be delighted." Library Journal
"A brisk and fascinating account that has Lewis wearing verisimilitude on his sleeve — and on every page. Moreover, the book is a virtual history lesson of show-biz life as it was in the postwar and Eisenhower-administration years." Providence Journal
"The most striking aspect of the book is Lewis' amazing memory for small details....Part soul cleansing, part record straightening, Dean and Me chronicles a decade (to the day) of showbiz history none of us are likely to experience again." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Lewis' story manages to overcome its undistinguished telling....In its best moments, this book reveals the two men not just as megastars, but as human beings with flaws, pains, joys and disappointments." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In a memoir by turns moving, thrilling, tragic, and hilarious, Jerry Lewis recounts with crystal clarity every step of his 50-year relationship with Dean Martin.
About the Author
Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin sandwiched sixteen money-making films in between nightclub engagements, recording sessions, radio shows, and television bookings during their ten-year partnership. Over the following years Lewis remained in the spotlight as the groundbreaking creator and star of a series of hugely successful movie comedies, and scored triumphs in stage appearances in Europe, where he has been hailed as one of the greatest director-comedians of the twentieth century. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and has received numerous other honors for his tireless efforts in the fight against the forty neuromuscular diseases.
James Kaplan has written novels, essays, and reviews, as well as over a hundred major profiles for many magazines, including the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, and New York. In 2002 Kaplan coauthored the autobiography of John McEnroe, You Cannot Be Serious, which was an international bestseller (and #1 on the New York Times list). He lives in Westchester, New York, with his wife and three sons.
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