Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis remained relatively quiet about why they broke up as a comedy team in 1956, except for a veiled comment here and there. Lewis might have had a dark side, and Dean might have had reasons to hate him.
During their years together in movies and on TV, tensions were apparent because of remarks they would make to the press when rumors of a feud erupted, but it was hard to tell if they were actually speaking or just putting on their act.
Their celebrated “reunion” in 1976 on Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon was brief and, at times, appeared to be uncomfortable for both of them. The reunion was instigated by Frank Sinatra, who appeared on the show.
Nothing came of the reunion. However, the two became a bit closer following the death of Dean’s son, Dean Paul Martin, in 1987 from a plane crash while he was with the California Air National Guard. Lewis later remarked they would occasionally talk on the phone before Dean’s death in 1995.
The long separation brings up questions as to why they stayed apart after their successful act, but here are five reasons why Dean Martin might have hated Jerry Lewis:
1. Martin hated their movies — He was a laid-back, comfortable straight man to Jerry’s comedic role, which seemed to grab most of the attention over the course of their 16 movies together. Producers and distributors started complaining that kids in theaters would go out to buy popcorn when Dean starting singing. By that time, Dean didn’t even like the movies, according to Neatorama. “They were Jerry Lewis movies,” he said. “I played an idiot in every one.”
2. He was bored and fed up — Martin resented that he was “playing a stooge” to Lewis’ funny side, according to the Los Angeles Times. During their last film, “Hollywood or Bust,” Lewis, who looked up to Martin, told him of his admiration, but Martin reportedly replied, “You’re nothing to me but a . . . dollar sign.”
3. He felt Lewis was egotistical — Martin once remarked, “At some point he said to himself, ‘I’m extraordinary, like Chaplin.’ From then on nobody could tell him anything. He knew it all,” according to the Daily Mail.
4. Martin was disturbed with Lewis’ jealousy — Martin had his first big hit with “That’s Amore” in 1953. Lewis was apparently upset that he lost some of the spotlight, reported Michael J. Hayde on the Better Living Through Television website. Lewis presented Martin with a gold record for the song on TV’s “Colgate Hour” in 1954. When Martin started singing, Lewis jumped on his back, smacking his ears and pulling his hair. “Martin was genuinely steamed,” according to Hayde.
5. He couldn’t stand Jerry’s energy — During a feud in 1954 and rumors of a split, Martin told Parade magazine, “He’s 10 years younger ’n me. I can’t take that routine. End of the day this guy jumpin’ up and down my back, I’m tired. I’m beat.”
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