The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection

| October 29, 2013

Where do you turn when you want to watch Orson Welles make fun of Jimmy Stewart, or to see the two take turns teasing Dean Martin? Where else could you expect to hear a Rich Little impression of Truman Capote performing as General George S. Patton? Or find the likes of Bob Hope and Don Rickles on a panel honoring Mr. T? Nowhere but The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, that’s where! On 54 occasions between 1973 and 1984, Dean Martin and his pals came together to honor some of the most prominent figures in sports, entertainment and politics by ridiculing them publicly (see below for a complete listing of roastees). With panels of roasters featuring prominent comedians, performers and public figures flexing their comedic muscles for one another under the leadership of one of the industry’s most beloved entertainers, I can safely say that if Dean Martin roasts don’t make you laugh, nothing will.

All 54 roasts from The Dean Martin Variety Hour and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts are now available in a single collection from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life exclusively at, and it is not to be missed. This rare slice of entertainment history offers us the opportunity to see industry legends match wits in a good-natured attempt to make each other laugh. With an unbelievable cavalcade of rotating roasters including Rich Little, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Joey Bishop, Henry Fonda, Gene Kelly, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Redd Foxx, Ruth Buzzi, Flip Wilson, John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, Billy Crystal, Vincent Price, and lord knows how many more, there isn’t a program collected here that’s not worth your time. The roast of Dean Martin himself, in particular, stands out as one of the greatest in the series. At over an hour and forty minutes long, this epic roast surprisingly never wears out its welcome, in no small part due to the refreshing guest Roastmaster, Don Rickles, and a stellar lineup of roasters.

While oh so much of the humor here is just as funny today as it was then, I surmise, these roasts are without a doubt a product of their time. As such, to reiterate the warning you’ll find on the back of each individual case housed within the massive Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection box set, these roasts sometimes feature some bawdy, often ethnic, humor that is cringe-worthily politically incorrect by today’s standards. Yet, inasmuch as such cracks about race are a sign of the times, they also reflect the deep camaraderie between these entertainers. What’s more, no single person on the dais, whether they be a roastee or roaster, went unscathed. To quote the aforementioned warning: “many of these celebrities were friends who loved to give and take a good shot. The cigarettes are real, the drinks are free, and the camaraderie is heartfelt.”

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection boasts an truly incredible 15 hours of special features, including rare home movies featuring Dean and his friends as well as some rare Dean Martin TV specials not seen since their original broadcast: Dean’s Place (1975 & 1976) and Dean Martin’s Red Hot Scandals of 1926 (1976 & 1977). The collection also includes 34 brand new interviews with former Roast participants, production personnel, critics and fans including: Don Rickles, Carol Burnett, Ruth Buzzi, Tony Danza, Abe Vigoda, Angie Dickinson, Dan Haggerty, Ed Asner, Fred Willard, Jimmie Walker, Rich Little, Rip Taylor, Shirley Jones, Tim Conway, Florence Henderson and more. The 25-disc DVD set contains 11 newly-produced featurettes:

  • Legends of the Roasts
  • The Art of the Roast
  • Ladies of the Dais
  • Roast in Hell: Politicians Under Fire
  • Sports Stars: Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts
  • The History of the Roast
  • The King of Cool: Always in Fashion
  • Politically Incorrect
  • Behind-the-Scenes
  • Primetime Ribbing: Roasting Small-Screen Stars
  • Beauty & The Beast: Ruth Buzzi vs. Muhammad Ali

The collection also includes a 44-page booklet featuring photos, anecdotes, behind-the-scenes stories, and one-liners. And when you order through, you’ll receive a 7.5-inch-tall, limited edition resin figurine of Dean Martin behind the Celebrity Roasts podium. As if that weren’t enough, the collection also includes seven bonus episodes of The Dean Martin Variety Hour across two DVDs! With more than 55 hours of content between the roasts and special features, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection is well worth the investment. Why, the first viewing of each roast alone will take you ages! After all, I was able to watch no more than an hour to an hour and a half at a time before my face would hurt too much from the constant laughing to continue. And you can’t ask any more from comedy than that.

Finally, as promised, here’s the complete list of roastees along with air dates:

  • Ronald Reagan, 9/14/1973
  • Hugh Hefner, 9/21/1973
  • Ed McMahon, 9/28/1973
  • William Conrad, 10/5/1973
  • Kirk Douglas, 10/12/1973
  • Bette Davis, 10/19/1973
  • Barry Goldwater, 10/26/1973
  • Johnny Carson, 11/2/1973
  • Wilt Chamberlain, 11/9/1973
  • Hubert Humphrey, 11/23/1973
  • Carroll O’Connor, 12/7/1973
  • Monty Hall, 12/14/1973
  • Jack Klugman & Tony Randall, 12/21/1973
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1/11/1974
  • Leo Durocher, 1/18/1974
  • Truman Capote, 1/25/1974
  • Don Rickles, 2/8/1974
  • Ralph Nader, 2/15/1974
  • Jack Benny, 2/22/1974
  • Redd Foxx, 3/1/1974
  • Bobby Riggs, 3/6/1974
  • George Washington (portrayed by Jan Leighton), 3/15/1974
  • Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, 3/22/1974
  • Hank Aaron, 3/29/1974
  • Joe Namath, 4/5/1974
  • Bob Hope, 10/31/1974
  • Telly Savalas, 11/15/1974
  • Lucille Ball, 2/8/1975
  • Jackie Gleason, 2/27/1975
  • Sammy Davis, Jr., 4/25/1975
  • Michael Landon, 5/16/1975
  • Evel Knievel, 11/10/1975
  • Valerie Harper, 11/20/1975
  • Muhammad Ali, 2/19/1976
  • Dean Martin, 2/27/1976
  • Dennis Weaver, 4/27/1976
  • Joe Garagiola, 5/25/1976
  • Redd Foxx, 11/26/1976
  • Danny Thomas, 12/15/1976
  • Angie Dickinson, 2/8/1977
  • Gabe Kaplan, 2/21/1977
  • Ted Knight, 3/2/1977
  • Peter Marshall, 5/2/1977
  • Dan Haggerty, 11/2/1977
  • Frank Sinatra, 2/7/1978
  • Jack Klugman, 3/17/1978
  • Jimmy Stewart, 5/10/1978
  • George Burns, 5/17/1978
  • Betty White, 5/6/1978
  • Suzanne Somers, 11/21/1978
  • Joe Namath, 1/19/1979
  • Joan Collins, 2/23/1984
  • Mr. T, 3/14/1984
  • Michael Landon, 12/7/1984

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: TV on DVD

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