Archive for the ‘Sheldon Leanard’ tag

Martin & Lewis & Me

with 9 comments

ben starr wedding john starr extra

Ben & Gloria Starr’s Wedding Picture
December 1st 1949 Chicago, Ambassador-East Hotel

Left to right.
Best Man Sheldon Leonard (Producer DICK VAN DYKE SHOW & Bartender in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE; “Look at me..I’m makin’ Angels!”). Peeking past Rabbi is Charlie Isaacs (great guy & Head Writer who got Dad work on Radio for Al Jolson and Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis). Then there’s Jerry & Wife #1 (call her Patty) & Bob Redd (Producer). Did I mention Jerry paid for my Parent’s Wedding & gave them a nice Cash Gift? Name Dropper …boasting for one.

Memory Lane
Ten years later at a dinner party at Director Mervyn LeRoy’s house Frank Sinatra is a guest. My witty & wonderful Mother Gloria asks Frankie for the 25 Cents back she mailed his Fan Club in the ’40s for an 8×10 that never arrived. Sinatra replies “What with interest …no can do.”

I digress
In 1948 Gloria moved to Hollywood & worked for Henry Rogers (pre-Rogers & Cowan Publicity Machine Giants). Kirk Douglas was an original Client and Gloria mailed, in Kirk’s name, his weekly Studio checks back home with a note she wrote… “Hi Mom. Here’s your check.”

Back to Thanks for the Memories
Ben co-wrote the 1966 Hit Western TEXAS ACROSS THE RIVER for Dean Martin. Dad proudly wore the Christmas Gift Watch inscribed “To Ben-Keep Writing, Dino.” So it wasn’t a big deal at 16 that I took Tennis Lessons at Dino’s Mansion. Dino Jr & Desi Arnaz Jr would sit court side drinking and critiquing my tennis expertise with “Bad Volley Dude” and “Double Fault Bro” etc. Evidently I stunk up the court.  Years later Desi Jr & I ran into each other at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Florida. He remembered being drunk and that I had a weak back hand.

I finally got to thank Jerry Lewis for his generosity in person backstage on Broadway in 1995 during his DAMN YANKEES revival run. I must have confused Jerry because he briefly thought Dad was Heavyweight Champ Rocky Marciano (I’m not making this stuff up).  Now keep up with me…Groucho’s son Arthur Marx interviewed Ben for the un-authorized Jerry Lewis Biography EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY SOMETIME (ESPECIALLY HIMSELF). Dad shared that after their Wedding Reception Jerry rented the room next to my Folks to bang on the wall all night yelling suggestive remarks. In the voice of Jerry’s original Nutty Professor please say the following out loud … “HEY LADY!

But I digress again (for a change). Mid 1980s Ben & Gloria are taking friends to dinner at Beverly Hills Trader Vics for their Anniversary when in walks Jerry, New Wife & Homies. After dinner Dad learns that Jerry kindly picks up the tab. Ben walks over and says “Thanks Jer. By the way…we eat here every Tuesday.”

Check out my Dad Ben Starr’s incredible Producer/Writer Career on IMDb: