If the names Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are foreign to you, let me suggest familiarizing yourself with some of their material before checking this book out from the library or reading this blog-post: DVDs of the Colgate Comedy Hour from your local library, My Friend Irma and My Friend Irma Goes West, 2 of their first films together, an album of Dean Martin singing the standards or any of Jerry Lewis's movie masterpieces. Take your pick. If you have heard of this dynamic duo of comedy, than thank goodness! I finally have someone to talk to!
Dean & Me is a book about the partnership, the team, the friendship, the illustrious career of Martin and Lewis. It was a wonderful history lesson for me, reading about how show business used to be in the '40s and '50s and how Jerry and Dean put together their act and traveled all over the country playing nightclubs from coast-to-coast, how they acted in movies, and met all sorts of famous celebrities. What I liked most about this book however was how wonderfully Jerry expressed himself about all the fun he and Dean had working together and all the good times they had on and off the stage/screen. Jerry was the wild one, the off-the-wall goof with a rubber face, loud, high voice, and a huge personalty. Dean was the handsome, charming crooner, who had a razor-sharp wit to match Jerry's crazy antics and a cool attitude that kept him through any adversity.
As I got further and further into the book, it turned into an emotional roller-coaster. After 10 wonderful, golden years, Jerry and Dean's working and personal relationship dissolved. They both struck out on their own, performing solo and living their separate lives. It made me sad to read about what Jerry went through; he and Dean didn't see each other again until 18 years later! Then I felt happy when I read about how, professionally, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin made good in their individual careers. The last part of the book was bittersweet, and it also made me tear up a bit when I read about Dean and Jerry's final reconciliation, and then Dean Martin's funeral after Christmas only 15 years ago.
What I love about reading biographies, and autobiographies especially, is that they are stories of real life, people who actually lived, and what they gave to this world to get a book written about them in the first place. My respect and appreciation for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin as human beings, and not just famous faces, has grown exponentially just by reading this book. Would my brother Adam be the same person if not for Jerry Lewis? I don't think so.