When Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Came To Michigan: 1951-1953
For those of you old enough to remember Beatlemania, you'll recall how frenzied, berserk, manic, hectic, out-of-control, unbridled, no-holds-barred, psychotic, rabid, wild, and crazed the fans were...ALL AROUND THE WORLD. The entertainment world has not seen such fan frenzy as this since. Sure, bands and performers afterward had (and still have) wild, screaming mobs greet them and try to meet them...but unless you were around in the 60s, you have NO idea how hopped-up and insane the fans were.
The Beatle fans were more flipped out than fans for Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Rudolph Valentino had been decades earlier. Elvis fans were close, but many historians and former newsmen believe Beatlemania beat out Elvismania. But there was one act whose fan frenzy matched that of Beatlemania...not a music act, but a pair of comedians: Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis.
At the height of their popularity, Martin & Lewis were mobbed wherever they went. Once they began their climb to the big time on July 25, 1946, the fan frenzy never stopped until the team broke up exactly ten years later, in July 1956. For those ten years, they were the most popular act in the country, even beating out Elvis Presley for their last two years together. They appeared on every medium offered them: stage, radio, nightclubs, TV, newspapers, magazines, and movies.
The Martin & Lewis frenzy came to Michigan at least twice – both times at Detroit's Fox Theatre, in 1951 and again in 1953. During 1951, Martin & Lewis went on tour to promote their newest film, “That's My Boy”, one of their stops being the Fox Theatre. Performing six shows a day for a week, “the singer and his monkey” (as Lewis put it) would wrap up one show and wait for the audience to clear out so the next group could come in...but many times, the customers wouldn't leave – they wanted to stay for the next performance. How'd they get the fans to leave? By telling them to come to their dressing room window and they would put on a short, free show. This caused major traffic jams as the throngs of rabid fans watched from below as Dean & Jerry cavorted in their window. From the sidewalks, down the blocks, into the streets, into any empty lot, sidewalk, etc., any pedestrian or commuter may as well have given up and gone miles out of their way to get where they were going. Dean & Jerry were THAT huge.
Then in 1953, they appeared for another week at the Fox while they were on a national tour promoting another new movie, “Money From Home”. In fact, in May 1951 they filmed a promo for their upcoming Fox Theatre engagement – and you can see that 50 second video after the short photo gallery below.
At the time they were the highest paid act in show business, breaking all attendance records and smashing box offices throughout the country...and part of that “Martin & Lewis-Mania” happened right here in Michigan.....
.....proving that people really do love to laugh...
Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis In Michigan
MORE FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO CAME TO MICHIGAN: