Dean Martin


  1. Tony Martin, Till The Clouds Rolls By, 1946.    Eight months before officially becoming Martin & Lewis, the “engaging  Frank Sing-at-yuh croonster” (Chicago Daily News) was looked over by producer Joe Pasternak. MGM passed, having a good enough second-string Italian crooner in the other Martin  – really the Jewish Alvin Morris.  In his next Metro test,  Dino was with Jerry Lewis and studio chief  LB Mayer said: “The guinea’s not bad but what do I do with the monkey?”
  2. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1955.  Jumping the gun, thinking it had won the rights battle for the stge  musical, Paramount unveiled its ho-hum-yawn casting of Crosby, Bob  Hope, Betty Grable and Jane Russell on The Road To Broadway…! The studio’s next extraordinary flash of stupidity (after losing Gene Kelly) was Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis!  But MGM saved the day with Brando and Frank Sinatra as Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit. 
  3. Ted De Corsica,  The Killing, 1955.  Five years before Ocean’s Eleven – and a few months before he broke up with Sammy Davis Jr in a typical fit of pique  – Frank Sinatra was keen on another heist story.  Lionel White’s book. Clean Break. New director Stanley Kubrick’s producer partner, James B Harris, won the rights for a thriller they figured should star…  Sinatra!  When Ole Blues Eyes finally made up with Sam The Wham, he wanted his Clan  buddies to re-make Kubrick’s Killing, until another Clanster, Peter Lawford (the next pique victim), told him about  Ocean’s Eleven, 1960.
  4. Ralph Meeker, The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, 1956.  The producers –  Jane Russell and her husband –  applauded director Norman Taurog’s idea. Having made several Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis farces, Taurog suggested plucking Martin from the farces. Then again, Meeker was cheaper.  And producer Hal B Wallis was hardly inclined to split up  the comedy duo.  Not until he had to. “Dean never said  anything,” said Jane, “but every  time I was  offered to his TV show, I was turned down.”
  5. Darren McGavin, The Delicate Delinquent, 1957.    The Monkey was by now “the second Chaplin.” (Oh, Hollywood!) After Three Ring Circus, 1954, Jerry Lewis asked Don McGuire to pen something else for Martin & Lewis. Knowing his paymaster, McGuire  underwrote  Martin’s role. Worse, it was a cop. Dino wasn’t playing no cop!  “Then we’ll have to get  somebody else,” said Jer. “Start looking,” said Dino, knocking the final nails into their coffin.
  6. John Rait, Pajama Game, 1957.      Nearly Dino’s  solo debut, again!   A far better idea than 10,000  Bedrooms.
  7. Cary Grant, North by Northwest, 1958  MGM suggested Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra. (Ain’t that a kick in the head!). Imagine either one trying to run from the crop-duster plane (a copy, by the way, of John Wayne’s fate with another bi-plane  in  the first of a dozen chapters for the 1931 Mascot serial, The Shadow of the Eagle). Hitch also  rejected William Holden and “stone-faced” Gregory Peck and ran to the cover  of his favourite leading man – for what some 007 analysts hail as the first James Bond film.  Oh, no, no, c’mon guys, that was another Hitch – Notorious, 1945.    
  8. David Niven, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.   Dean Martin up for the same role as… Sir Alec Guinness!!!!. Writer-producer Carl Foreman aimed high for  his Allied saboteurs in WWII Greece – starting with Cary Grant and Marlon Brando!  The way-too-oldies for the mere Corporal John Anthony Miller (not even a sergeant!) were: Guinness, Peter Finch, James Mason, John Mills, Kenneth More… Navarone was the 1961 box-office champ. allowing Foreman to direct his next one, The Victors, 1962. 
  9. Glenn Ford, Pocketful of Miracles, 1960.      Despite the collapse of a Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin-Bing Crosby script about Jimmy Durante – too many superego corporations – director Frank Capra still offered his next one to Frank – and then Dino. After suffering Ford (who insisted on his lover, Hope Lange, co-starring), Capra wished he given the lead to Lassie… He never knew this re-make of his 1933 Lady for a Day  would be his final  film. Or he would have tried harder
  10. David Niven, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.    Despite his roots, Dino did not like  Europe – and hated the British press. He even refused to shoot his second Matt Helm farce, Murderers’ Row, 1966, in Cannes, as  per script, forcing the studio to build a (very) mock Riviera on the back lot.

  11. Dirk Bogarde, The Angel Wore Red, 1961.    All the A List refused The Fair Bride (aka Temptation). Such a disaster that now it was writer Nunnally Johnson who never directed another film.
  12. Stephen Boyd, Billy Rose’s Jumbo, 1962.   If at first you don’t succeed…  MGM’s  first cast in 1943:  Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland.  In 1947:  Frank Sinatra-Judy Garland  – or Gene Kelly-Kathryn Grayson.   1949:  Frank Sinatra-Esther Williams. 1952:  Donald O’Connor-Debbie Reynolds.  1962: Dean Martin-Doris Day. Finally: Stephen Boyd was Day’s (weak) partner in her last musical.  And after all that – a flop!
  13. Paul Newman, What A Way To Go!,1963.  After being chosen for the never finished Something’s Gotta Give, Marilyn and Dino were snappwd up  by producer Arthur P Jacobs.  Too late… 

  14. James  Garner,  Move Over, Darling, 1963.    He had been there (re-treading Cary Grant’s 1940  My Favourite Wife role) when it started as Something’s Got To  Give.  Something  did  – Marilyn Monroe.  Dino refused to continue when she  was sacked and replaced by Lee Remick. Martin had signed to work with Marilyn – “and no one else.”  He was never keen on it, “but  Marilyn wanted me.” Remick quit,  after  Monroe’s mystery death. Filming eventually re-started with Garner and Doris Day. Empty!
  15. Guy Stockwell,  Beau  Geste, 1966.    After flirting with an all-British team,  Universal nearly flew the flag with Dino,  Tony Curtis – and Heston as the brutal Dagineau – until making do with a B with its  contract players.
  16. Jerry Lewis, The King Of Comedy, 1982.    Ironic!Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett were not keen on playing themselves – a TV chat-show host having his show heisted by a star wannabe.   Director Martin Scorsese pondered about the Clan, ” I just love that crowd and their clothes!” Thoughts of Sinatra begat Dino and he begat… Jerry. (Thirty years later, Scorsese tried to set up a Dino biopic).
  17. Jack Lemmon, Grumpy Old Men, 1993.     Surprise, surprise… but it would never have worked as well. The old firm of Martin & Lewis were an early notion for old-timers John Gustafson and Max Goldman. Martin’s health was too fragile. He died in 1995, three days after the sequel, Grumpier Old Men, also passed away. The original was the sixth of ten films pairing Lemmon and Walter Matthau.





 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1996Other name: Usual occupation: SingerCasting Calls:  14