It’s not just Bette and Joan that have lit up Hollywood with their feuding, over the years there have been pistols at dawn between actors, directors and even publicists. Here in an occasional series we profile some of the best of them. First up is Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
The confident, Italian crooner from Ohio and the ambitious, young comic from the Borscht Belt made an unlikely pair when they first hooked up in 1946. But these opposites attracted the crowds, and during the decade following World War II, there was no bigger comedy team than Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
The Bad Blood
In retrospect, it’s a wonder the crazy monkey and the handsome organ-grinder lasted together as long as they did. Dean grew tired of Jerry’s ego and worshipful toadying. Jerry chafed at the restrictions of playing the clown. By the end, not even their massive paychecks from radio, TV, stage and screen could keep the amóre alive. When Lewis declared his love for Martin before their final movie, Dino replied, “You can talk about love all you want. To me, you’re nothing but a dollar sign.”
The Upper Hand
Call this one a draw. The always cool Martin went on to cement his place in hipster folklore as a founding member of the Rat Pack and continued to churn out hit songs, movies and TV shows. Lewis carved out his own niche by providing fuel for a generation of comics, becoming a relentless telethon host and, inexplicably, attaining hero status in France. Viva Buddy Love!