Joey Bishop, ‘Deconstructing the Rat Pack,’ and other cocktails of the moment

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A caricature from the since-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner’s TV Weekly April 16–22, 1967, insert plugs the spring premiere of “The Joey Bishop Show” on Monday, April 17. The ABC late night rival of “The Tonight Show” was hosted by the Rat Pack alum and a wet-behind-the-ears Regis Philbin. Bishop’s long face and and put-upon moroseness even has a hoot owl, perched on a higher tree limb, eying him suspiciously. Illustration by Bob Bentovoja / Walt Disney Television / Getty Images

The Lon Davis Interview

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A black and white still finds “Stooges Among Us” editor and former Comedy Store performer Lon Davis preferring a dapper shirt and tie. From 1977–1981 Davis did stand-up using his birth name of Paul David Blabac. Left Image Credit: BearManor Media / Amazon; Right Image Credit: Photography by Greg Burns / Courtesy of Lon Davis
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Son of a gun, that’s some haymaker, Dino! Circa March 1960, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Joey Bishop create a rollicking atmosphere while promoting debut motion picture “Ocean’s 11.” Bishop’s colleagues, ranging from writers to costars, paint an unflattering portrait of the Bronx comic in “Deconstructing the Rat Pack: Joey, the Mob, and the Summit,” unleashed via Amazon Kindle and paperback on December 2, 2020, by the independent BookBaby publisher. Co-writer Lon Davis says, “I believe Rick selected this cover photo. He liked the fact that Joey had on a red sweater, which really makes the picture ‘pop.’” Photography by Sid Avery / BookBaby Publishing / Courtesy of Richard A. Lertzman; Here’s looking at you, kid — books written by Richard A. Lertzman, seen here on February 27, 2008, encompass “Beyond Columbo: The Life and Times of Peter Falk,” “The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney,” and “Dr. Feelgood The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History by Treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, and Elvis.” Photography by Diana Lertzman / Simon & Schuster

The Richard A. Lertzman Interview

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Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in their backstage dressing room circa 1950. Image Credit: Popperfoto / Getty Images; I’ll murder ya! A facetiously indignant Moe Howard places his hands on his hips to accommodate a shutterbug circa 1968. Right Image Credit: Photography by Paul Rubin / The Amy Rubin Vecchione Collection
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Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis go nose to nose on a golf fairway, possibly around the time of 1953’s “The Caddy,” the comedic anarchists’ ninth theatrical teaming. Image Credit: Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images
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Dean Martin and Joey Bishop during a break from filming director John Sturges’s comedy western “Sergeants 3” on location in either Kanab or Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, between June and July 1961. “Deconstructing the Rat Pack” o-writer Lon Davis exclusively divulges, “I found this photo fascinating when I first saw it. Dean was not known to be a demonstrative individual, which makes his arm being around Joey seem especially friendly. To my knowledge, the two were not at all close personal friends.” Photography by Bernie Abramson / Courtesy of Richard A. Lertzman
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A few weeks after filming for director Michael Gordon’s Universal comedy western “Texas Across the River” wrapped, Dean Martin, funny maître d’ Joey Bishop, and Frank Sinatra [who did not appear in the film] “opened a three-week engagement at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas on April 13, 1966, determined that their songs, patter, and assorted hijinks qualify them as ‘The Men from SPREE’ [Society for the Prevention of Routine Entertainment Events].” Image Credit: Bettman Archive / Getty Images / Courtesy of Richard A. Lertzman
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“Joey Bishop Sings Country Western,” distributed during the first week of September 1968 on ABC Records, failed to find any Billboard chart action. Bishop acknowledged to Tennessean reporter Eugene Wyatt that the LP was “not meant as a joke. I spent five weeks with Ernie Freeman, who’s about the best arranger in the business. We have 20 violins and eight back-up voices in there, too. The songs I sing are standards — nothing fancy. I really don’t have much of a voice — Jethro says it’d be great for cooling soup — but my heart’s in it.” Left Image Credit: 45Worlds user “Trester;” Right Image Credit: Amazon / Universal Music Group
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“Don’t pick a fight, but if you find yourself in one, I suggest you make damn sure you win.” John Wayne doesn’t mind ignoring his advice when the scuffle involves youngest son Ethan’s fist in this circa 1970 shot not long before the filming of the entertaining western “Big Jake,” which featured Ethan in a key supporting role as Jacob McCandles’s kidnapped grandson. Image Credit: John Wayne Enterprises
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Hmm…who should I fire today? The son of a gun monologist wears a green smock and balances a dripping paint can as he deliberates his next move after supposedly rendering the iconic NBC peacock logo, captured sometime during “The Joey Bishop Show” sitcom’s 1961–1964 tenure on NBC. In a step backward, the 30-minute series’ fourth and final season aired on the competing CBS in black and white when it had originally been in color. Photography by Herb Ball / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images
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On a sunny California afternoon Regis Philbin and Joey Bishop stroll down North Vine Street, incidentally the same territory as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study where the team’s late night ABC series originated, during “The Joey Bishop Show’s” first season in 1967 judging by the length of Bishop’s sideburns. In the black and white informal shot Philbin straightens Bishop’s tie backstage as they prepare to hit their marks before a studio audience in 1968. The topical program aired live for a staggering 90 minutes Mondays thru Fridays. Both Image Credits: Walt Disney Television / Getty Images
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At the height of the Vietnam War, the Bronx-raised Joey Bishop greets U.S. Army soldier Ralph Thompson during a celebrity handshaking tour at Fire Support Base Washington 3, located approximately five miles outside of Tay Ninh City and 10 miles from the Cambodian border, around Thanksgiving 1968. “The Birds” and “Marnie” leading lady Tippi Hedren also accompanied the USO tour. Footage was documented for Bishop’s ABC late night show which regrettably has not been seen in over 50 years. Bishop, a World War II veteran, had been drafted in 1942 and spent three years in Special Services at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Photography by Dave Seim / Vietnam Soldier Photo Galleries
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On February 24, 1976, Joey Bishop and Johnny Carson kibitz on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” inside Studio 1 at NBC’s Burbank facilities. Bishop was second only to Jay Leno in the number of episodes he guest hosted. As far back as October 1958 when Jack Paar was on vacation, Bishop filled in [his debut came with original “Tonight Show” host Steve Allen in 1955]. August 13, 1976, marked Bishop’s final date as guest host, although he would repeatedly return to the couch for interview segments through December 26, 1988, with Jay Leno substituting for Carson. All told, Bishop amassed 33 years of “Tonight Show” appearances from Allen to Leno under his belt. Photography by Gary Null / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images
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Joey Bishop and Lainie Kazan [Harry and Sylvia Goldman] have no idea that their idyllic Boeing 707 experience is about to be violently dismantled between Athens and Rome in Israeli director Menahem Golan’s “The Delta Force,” a Cannon Group production dropped to theaters on February 14, 1986. Photography by Yoni Hamenachem / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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“Former golfing companion” Nora Garibotti and Joey Bishop pose on the former late night host’s Newport Beach balcony on April 11, 2005, about two and a half years before his demise from Alzheimer’s disease and multiple organ failure at age 89. Bishop’s last will and testament bequeathed 70% of his $8 million to the rumored gold digger who had to go to court to prove she was Bishop’s “lover for nearly 25 years — they met when she was 16 and he was 66.” Image Credit: The Brianna Bailey Collection / COLlive.com
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Larry Bishop was born on August 4, 1947 [IMDB and Wikipedia propose November 30, 1948], to Joey Bishop and devoted wife Sylvia Ruzga. Bishop’s only child has acted in under-the-radar productions as far back as 1966, including outlaw biker flicks like “The Savage Seven” and “Chrome and Hot Leather.” Decades later he was given a role in Quentin Tarantino‘s high-kicking “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.” Image Credit: Historic Images / Richard A. Lertzman’s The Life & Times of Hollywood blog
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A mandolin a day keeps the doc at bay: After stubbing out a cigarette, 49-year-old Joey Bishop kills time in his dressing room before taking the stage of the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on North Vine Street to shoot his eponymous ABC late night series in 1967. Bishop is not mugging for the camera — he actually played a Gibson mandolin on television and at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. Image Credit: Walt Disney Television / Getty Images
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Sixty-two-year-old leather-jacketed Joey Bishop allows famed paparazzo Ron Gallela access on November 20, 1980, outside the Belmar Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, less than two hours southwest of the “Onionhead” actor’s old Bronx stomping grounds. Photography by Ron Galella / Getty Images
Watch a rare extended color clip from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in the 1960s. Funny, quick-witted guest host Joey Bishop does his best to contain fellow Rat Pack alums Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in an unscripted interview summit on October 4, 1965. Video Credit: Carson Entertainment Group

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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