Today in History: July 25

From July 25, 1946, to July 25, 1956, the two men built one of the hottest acts in show business: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis became a top nightclub attraction, and the two were television stars, radio stars, and they made 17 movies together in those 10 years.

They started out as show business acquaintances. Seventy years ago tonight, a singer booked to work with Jerry Lewis at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey, bailed out, and Lewis suggested Martin as a replacement. Martin was a decade older than Lewis, smooth on stage, a professional who had not yet found his audience. The two tried a standard “comedy and music” formula with no meaningful interaction, and the audience was memorably unmoved. The club owner threatened to fire them.

The two started to do on stage what they were doing backstage to kill time between sets; they began to act on stage as if nothing could stop them from entertaining one another and the audience was the necessary third part of the act.

After ten years, Lewis was still being presented in the media as a youthful up-and-comer with a lot of unfulfilled promise, and Martin was being presented as his hindrance. On the tenth anniversary of the duo’s start, which was the first opportunity to do so under their contracts, Martin broke up the act. Both had enormously successful solo careers; Jerry Lewis is still performing, at age 90.

The two did not publicly reunite for 20 years.

Below, it is 1950 all over again, and the two have been hosting the Colgate Comedy Hour. They have been asked to stretch for an extra two minutes:

* * * *
The ocean liner SS Andrea Doria was struck by the MS Stockholm off the Nantucket coast while en route to New York City 60 years ago today. Forty-six died, but more than 1600 passengers and crew were rescued while the ship slowly sank, starboard side first, into the Atlantic Ocean.

* * * *
Air France Flight 4590 crashed shortly after takeoff on this date in 2000. It was the only fatal accident in the flight history of the Concorde, and it eventually led to the end of that aircraft’s operational history.

* * * *
“You Can’t Hurry Love,” a single by The Supremes, was released by Motown 50 years ago today.

* * * *
Lazar Kaganovich, the last Stalinist and the final surviving member of the group of first Bolsheviks, died in Moscow 25 years ago today. He was 97, and the country he saw created in 1917, the USSR, only outlasted him by a few months.

* * * *
Jack Gilford was born on this date in 1908. Rosalind Franklin was born on this date in 1920. The late Nate Thurmond was born 75 years ago today. (He died on July 16, 2016.) Emmett Till was born 75 years ago today. Walter Payton was born on this date in 1954.

* * * *
Iman is 61 today. Illeana Douglas is 51. Matt LeBlanc is 49. Louise Brown is 37 today.

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Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

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