Dean and Dutch
During his two terms as Governor of California, former actor Ronald “Dutch” Reagan (it was his dad who first gave him the nickname “Dutch”) continued to ply the on-camera skills that made him a star in Hollywood, frequently guesting on popular programs of the day, as when he emerged from The Dean Martin Show’s famous “Closet”, accompanied by a construction crew (above), to announce plans to pave a highway that would run straight down the middle of the set of Dean’s program, because, as he joked, “Everyone knows I’m a middle-of-the-road Republican!”
Shortly after the end of his second term as Governor, Reagan appeared again on Dean’s show (by now, during the 1973-74 season, renamed The Dean Martin Comedy Hour), this time joined by wife Nancy (above) for an informal chat that hinted at his intention to seek higher office in the near future.
A major article in the October 30, 1970 issue of Life Magazine, coming out just days before he’d win a landslide in his bid for re-election as Governor over his Democratic opponent, then-California State Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, dubbed Ronald Reagan, in the article’s title, “The hottest candidate in either party.” As shown in the photo above that accompanied that piece, he certainly knew how to pack the heat when it came to celebrity endorsements, flanked by the likes of Bob Hope and John Wayne on his right and Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the left.
That article in Life also attests to the fact that both Dean and Frank crossed party lines to support their friend Ronnie — as noted in the page from Life reproduced below, both were actually registered Democrats.
The election of 1970 wasn’t the last time that Dean and Frank would stand up for Ronald Reagan — they both endorsed him when he ran for President in 1980 and ’84 and spoke highly of him while he was in office — but it was the first. Four years earlier, when The Gipper initially sought the governorship, the two main pillars of the Rat Pack backed the Democrat in the race, incumbent Pat Brown, as the following audio excerpt from a 1966 fundraiser for Brown avers, with Dean starting off with a little stand-up, before launching into a smooth rendition of his trademark theme song. Enjoy:
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