Remembering an event that meant an awful lot then—and no doubt means something still—to tens of millions of Americans
So I'm watching "Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis," the documentary of a sort now premiering on Encore about the life and art of the polarizing entertainer, and it dawns on me that America largely missed the 35th anniversary of one of the most famous moments in television history: the live reunion between Jerry Lewis, who was doing his 11th Muscular Dystrophy Telethon that year, and Dean Martin, who had left Lewis's side 20 years earlier.
those of you under 50, stay with me for just a few more moments. The Martin-Lewis reunion may mean nothing to you—especially if aren't a fan of either man or a student of Hollywood or Vegas history. But I'll bet you a bag of donuts that the reunion, orchestrated by Frank Sinatra himself on September 5, 1976, was a big deal to your parents, or to your grandparents, or to your great-grandparents. Go ahead and ask them, you'll see.
It's understandable why America wasn't in the mood to celebrate this anniversary a few months ago. On September 5, 2011, after all, we are all gearing up for a much more grim remembrance. But I think it would be a shame if the entire year passed without so much as a brief tribute to the grand moment at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, on a Sunday, when Dean Martin first walked back onto Jerry Lewis's stage.