The Closet

A Repository of Images, Sounds, Audiovisual Materials, and Other Items Suited to Dinophiles and GoldsAndDingers of All Ages, Stripes and Persuasions.

Keep your eye on that door…because you never know what might pop out from behind it.

April 16, 2010 at 8:11 am

Remembering Steve Rossi

Dean Martin, Marty Allen, Steve Rossi
(above) Host Dean Martin (l.) enjoys some laughs with guest stars Marty Allen (center) and Steve Rossi (r.) on a second-season episode of The Dean Martin Show.

Steve Rossi, singing half of the popular 1960s showbiz team in which he was paired with Marty Allen, passed away June 22. The cause of death was reported to be cancer; he was 82.

Bred in the mold of the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis partnership, though never achieving the latter duo’s stratospheric level of fame, Allen and Rossi nonetheless were regular fixtures in nightclubs and on the TV talk and variety show circuit from the late 1950s until their amicable split in 1968 (they reunited in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and occasionally thereafter). In their act, Rossi (born Joseph Tafarella) crooned and played straight man to Allen’s bug-eyed, Brillo pad-haired zany persona.

Preserved for posterity, thanks to its inclusion on Time-Life’s DVD release of The Dean Martin Variety Show Uncut, is Allen & Rossi’s appearance (depicted in the accompanying photo) on the January 12, 1967 episode of Dean’s series, in which Steve offered a dramatic performance of “My Lonely Room”, before being joined by Marty and Dean for some wacky patter, winding up with Steve and Marty delivering a comic rendition of “Let’s Face The Music And Dance.”

Steve is survived by Marty, and by his wife, daughter, two grandchildren…and by a son named Dean.

June 25, 2014 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

What Would Dean Do?

Dean Martin 2014 Birthday Montage
DOIN’ WHAT COMES NATUR’LLY: As we commemorate Dean Martin’s birthday, we’ve made some educated guesses as to how he might ideally celebrate the occasion. Depicted in the montage above are some possibilities, with the prospective scenarios detailed  below.

With today marking the 97th anniversary of Dean Martin‘s birth, and with many of his fans observing the occasion with heartfelt tributes, we’re given to wonder how Dean himself, in his prime, might have chosen to spend the day.

While answering that question obviously calls for a certain degree of speculation, it’s probably safe to say that his idea of the idyllic way to celebrate might include:

1) Starting the day on the driving range, then moving on to the links;

2) Shooting the breeze with some of his best pallies;

3) Singing some songs with an assortment of his series’ sultry sirens;

4) Enjoying some quality time and fun with his family.

But whatever Dean might be inclined to do on his birthday, we honor him on it because of the impact that he’s had on our own lives, and because of the rich legacy of gifts — his music, his films, his work in television — that he left to all of us.

Salute, Dino.

June 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

A Micki To Celebrate

Micki McGlone Bday 2014

Even as we mourn the passing of showbiz great Mickey Rooney, we celebrate the life of that fine singer and dancer, Micki McGlone, of the 1970 Golddiggers, who made her debut in this world on this day, and whom we wish a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

April 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

Remembering Mickey Rooney

Dean Martin & Mickey Rooney

Being diminutive in stature was no impediment to reaching great heights of stardom in the Tinseltown of the 1930s, as proven in the early years of that decade by the popularity and talent of the recently-departed Shirley Temple…and by Mickey Rooney, who rose to the top of Hollywood’s box office heap in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, and who left us this past Sunday at the age of 93.

With his gift for musical comedy, it should come as no surprise that Mickey appeared several times as a guest on The Dean Martin Show, including a cameo entrance from Dean’s closet on the April 8, 1971 episode, as depicted in the accompanying still.

R.I.P. Joe Yule, Jr. (his real name) a.k.a. Andy Hardy (his most famous movie character) a.k.a. Mickey Rooney.

April 9, 2014 at 11:56 am 1 comment

Lee Hale Celebrates A Birthday, Waxes Nostalgic about The Dean Martin Show

Lee Hale - 91st Birthday

Considering both the sizable quantity and the unmatched quality of the music featured on The Dean Martin Show and Golddiggers series, those programs were, in a sense, as much a testament to the ingenuity of their behind-the-scenes Musical Director as they were a showcase for the talents of their on-camera performers.

The man choosing, arranging, overseeing (and in many cases, writing) much of the music for Dean, The Golds, The Dings and their guests each week was, of course, the estimable LEE HALE. A number of years ago, he recalled his work with those stars in his first book, Backstage At The Dean Martin Show; and more recently, he authored a second volume, mixing highlights of his show business career with his own personal life story in a compelling autobiography.

Around the time that his first tome was published, Lee sat down for a rare interview on a local California cable TV program called Talk Of The Desert. Originally telecast in 2000, the show contains much that’s still of interest to Dean Martin fans — and so, in honor of Lee’s 91st birthday today, we thought we’d share it with our fellow Dean, Golds and Dings enthusiasts. Watch it and you’ll not only see Lee reminisce about Dean’s series, but also be treated to a number of clips from the show — among them, one sketch featuring Dean, Lee, Dennis Weaver, Dick Martin and Lynne Latham that has never been included in either the Guthy-Renker or Time-Life DVDs.

In celebration of someone who has done so much to make so many look, and sound, so good, we hope that all of our readers will join us here in wishing LEE HALE A VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY BIRTHDAY, AND MANY, MANY MORE.


And to stay up-to-date on developments pertaining to The Dean Martin Show, The Golddiggers and the Dingaling Sisters, be sure to LIKE our Dean, Golds and Dings Facebook page:

March 25, 2014 at 10:03 am 1 comment

Invitation To The Dance

Dean Martin w. Liz Kelley
(above) Our latest birthday gal, Liz Kelley, rubbed shoulders with host Dean Martin when she and other members of The Golddiggers appeared on the Dec. 21, 1972 episode of his series.

In an era in which the casting of a popular TV series like Dancing With The Stars relies on a rather loose definition of what constitutes a leading man or woman, it’s worth recalling a time when a decidedly more ethereal level of entertainers could be seen displaying their smooth moves on the small screen — and often serving as dance partners to the biggest and brightest of these celestial celebrities were the dazzling young terpsichoreans of The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters.

One member of The Golds clearly born to twirl with top-flight talent was LIZ KELLEY, who was already cutting the rug by the age of 3, and before she was 17, had worked with the likes of Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Dom DeLuise, John Davidson, Charlton Heston, and Arthur Godfrey. Her first really big break came when she was tapped to pair with Gene Kelly for his 50 Girls 50 live revue — a gig that opened the door to a spot with The Golddiggers and a chance to perform alongside such show business giants as Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope (as part of his 1970 USO World Tour for American service personnel), Eddie Albert, Glenn Ford, Glen Campbell, Raymond Burr…and of course, Dean Martin, with whom she’s pictured below in a little pas de deux from his 1972 Christmas show.

Dean Martin & Liz Kelley Dancing

In terms of gaining exposure and recognition, The Golddiggers may have brought Liz Kelley to the dance, but to The Golddiggers, she brought a style, grace and mastery of dance, coupled with a breathtaking beauty and an irrepressible vivaciousness, that was all her own. And not only does she retain all of those qualities to this day, but strives to pass them along to those students fortunate enough to attend classes at Dance Studio 1, the school she founded and runs in Kansas City.

Yes, she may have tripped the light fantastic with some of the most legendary luminaries in the showbiz universe; but whether stepping out on the dance floor or simply demonstrating every day the very caring heart of a loving soul, no star shines brighter than Liz Kelley. No wonder that our voice is just one of so many in WISHING YOU, LIZ, A VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY BIRTHDAY, AND MANY, MANY MORE.

You can find the website for Liz Kelley’s Dance Studio by clicking HERE.
And you can join Liz and other alumnae of The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and The Dean Martin Show, along with their fans, by Liking our Dean, Golds and Dings fan page:

February 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm 1 comment

A Little Summer This Winter

(above) A photo montage of Francie Mendenhall provides visual accompaniment to her lovely solo turn on the reflective ballad “Last Summer,” from The Golddiggers’ 1971 record album, Today.

For those who’ve been enduring the arctic chill of winter’s deep freeze that’s engulfed much of the U.S. in recent weeks, we have just the right antidote. A year ago at this time, we celebrated the birthday of FRANCIE MENDENHALL, premiere soloist of the 1971-73 Golddiggers, by highlighting her magnificent performance of a dreamy ballad called “Cloud Hill” from The Golds’ third and final LP, entitled Today.

For Francie’s birthday this year, how better to mark the occasion than with the perfect counterpoint to our frosty weather: Francie’s cozy rendition of “Last Summer,” another Lee HaleGeoff Clarkson composition, and one that takes us back not just to the sultry months of this year’s calendar, but more deeply, to the summers of yore, when melody, meaningful lyrics, and masterfully modulated voices still mattered.

As you bask in the glow of this temperate-tempo tune, we predict that Francie’s vocals will warm your soul and melt your heart — all the more so in knowing that such warmth extends beyond her beauty and talent to the sweet, smart, kindhearted, generous, and thoughtful person that she is. What more reason could you need, then, to join us in wishing Francie a Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

January 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm 1 comment

A Date With Destiny

Sheryl Ullman & Michael Reagan 2014
(above) The photo of today’s birthday gal, Sheryl Ullman of the 1969 Golddiggers, that appeared in a 1967 issue of TV Guide chronicling a match made on TV’s Dating Game between Sheryl and Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael.

A couple of years before she was chosen to be one of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers, SHERYL ULLMAN was faced with a choice of her own — one that she was asked to make before millions of viewers on national television: As a contestant on the Saturday night prime-time edition of ABC’s The Dating Game, she had to decide which of three eligible bachelors, visible to the audience but not to her, would be her pick to accompany her on an all-expenses-paid chaperoned jaunt to Victoria, British Columbia. The two who DIDN’T make the cut were actor Sal Mineo and UCLA quarterback Norman Dow, hero of the 1966 Rose Bowl. The lucky winner? Michael Reagan, son of then-California Governor and future President Ronald Reagan.

On top of the usual large audience that The Dating Game‘s matchmaking always drew, the pairing of Sheryl Ullman and Michael Reagan gained extra coverage, due to its being selected by TV Guide to illustrate a typical Dating Game outing (the photo shown here is from that issue). “When Cinderella Meets Prince Charming” read the article’s title. While Sheryl, who was 20 at the time, tells us that she and Michael (then 22) saw a bit more of each other after that first encounter, ultimately, she found her true Prince Charming in her husband, Jim. To that, we’d add that for anyone fortunate enough to know the ever-lovely Sheryl, they’ve found one of the sweetest, most giving, most genuine friends they’ll ever have. And that’s no fairy tale.

So we hope everyone reading this message will join us in wishing Sheryl a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

January 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm 1 comment

Remembering Larri Thomas

Dean Martin & Larri Thomas
(above) Dean Martin (l.) dines with Larri Thomas (r.), as Sid Caesar (center), portraying a daft violinist, repeatedly interrupts their meal, on the Dec. 15, 1966 episode of The Dean Martin Show.

It apparently went unnoticed on websites and in publications that regularly cover Dean Martin, but we at Dean, Golds and Dings have learned that LARRI THOMAS, the striking platinum blonde actress and dancer who was a familiar presence on The Dean Martin Show during its first three seasons, died this past October at the age of 81, shortly after suffering a fall at her home in Van Nuys, California. In addition to being seen weekly on Dean’s series from 1965-68, she also appeared in two feature films in which he starred — the 1964 Rat Pack ensembler, Robin and The 7 Hoods, and the first of Dean’s four Matt Helm spy spoofs, 1966’s The Silencers. Her long list of movie and TV credits included many other parts, as well.

Even showbiz bible Variety failed to note her passing, but The Hollywood Reporter filed this obituary on October 22:

For more on the life and career of Larri Thomas, see:

• her Dean’s List profile on The Golddiggers Super Site: CLICK HERE

• an online bio of her on the Glamour Girls of The Silver Screen website: CLICK HERE

• a list of her credits on the Internet Movie Database: CLICK HERE

December 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm 1 comment

A Birthday That’s Always “In Season”

Paula Cinko Bday 2013
(above) Paula Cinko, whose birthday falls in December, made her national television debut during the height of the summer on Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers.

Whether it’s a matter of coincidence or serendipity, it seems fitting that the birthday of someone as widely admired and beloved as Paula Cinko would occupy a spot on the calendar at this time of the year, since her personal qualities embody so many of the virtues, and so much of the spirit, traditionally associated with the holiday season: joy, kindness, sincerity, integrity, humility, humanity, and beauty both inside and out.

If there were a Facebook button to “like” this talented alumna of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers and veteran of the Broadway stage, we suspect that she’d be “liked” by everyone who’s ever known her — because in the real world, she already is. So, we’d like to invite everyone reading this message to join us in wishing Paula a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

Join many alumnae of The Golddiggers, Dingaling Sisters and other cast members of The Dean Martin Show, as well as their fans, by Liking our Dean, Golds and Dings Facebook page:

December 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm 1 comment

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