SEPTEMBER 16, 1965 – “The Dean Martin Show” made its debut on NBC with Martin using his hit “Everybody Loves Somebody” as the theme song. The popular variety show, which introduced a group of gorgeous backup dancers called The Golddiggers, was a famously laid-back and largely improvised program, which made stars of Dom DeLuise, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tom Bosley, and Nipsey Russell, would run for a full decade until April 5, 1974.Martin was initially reluctant to do the show, partially because he did not want to turn down movie and nightclub performances. His terms were deliberately outrageous: he demanded a high salary and that he need only show up for the actual taping of the show. To his surprise the network agreed.
As daughter Deana Martin recalled after meeting the network and making his demands Martin returned home and announced to his family, “They went for it. So now I have to do it.” Contrary to his stated concerns, Martin’s commitment to the program ultimately did not prevent him from appearing in a series of “Matt Helm” films concurrent with the show’s run, as well as other projects such as a co-starring role in the first “Airport” film in 1970. From July to September 1967, the summer show was co-hosted by Martin’s daughter Gail Martin, Vic Damone and Carol Lawrence.
Martin believed that an important key to his popularity was that he did not put on airs. His act was that of a drunken, work-shy playboy, although the ever-present old-fashioned glass in his hand often only had apple juice in it. The show was heavy on physical comedy rather than just quips (he made his weekly entrance by sliding down a fireman’s pole onto the stage.) Martin read his dialogue directly from cue cards, and if he flubbed a line or forgot a lyric, he would not do a retake, and the mistake, and his recovery from it went straight to tape and onto the air. Martin accidently coined a new nickname for guest Frank Sinatra when he referred to his pal as “the Chairman of the Board.”The Golddiggers also toured the nation’s nightclubs as a live attraction.
Some of the members grew tired of traveling and dropped out, to be replaced by other hopefuls. After the summer series ran its course, the Golddiggers were seen on Martin’s own program, and four of them were used in another group, the Ding-a-Ling Sisters.“The Dean Martin Show” was shot on color videotape beginning in 1965 at Studio 4 inside NBC’s massive color complex at 3000 West Alameda Avenue in Burbank, California. The same studio was used for Frank Sinatra’s yearly TV specials in the late 1960s, and Elvis Presley’s 1968 “Comeback Special.” Studio 4 is currently one of two used in the production of the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,” a series of specials spun off from the final season, generated solid ratings for 10 years on NBC.