Thursday, October 18, 2007

Son of a Gun: Joey Bishop Dead at 89

Aside from being the ultimate inevitable, the last of the Rat Pack would sooner or later fade away.

The death of the Rat Pack happened quite some time ago, first with changes (both for better and for worse) in entertainment and the culture. Then, perhaps insignificantly, Peter Lawford died in 1984. Sure, he wasn't crucial to the guys... but that was another sign of their time gone.

Obviously when Sammy (in 1990) and Dean (in 1995) died a generation felt a great loss in the world of entertainment and in the history of American Cool. (I've commented a couple of times on Dean and his death.) If that wasn't enough, clearly the death of Sinatra (1998) was the 16-ton weight.

Now, the mouse in the Rat Pack.

Joey Bishop, the stone-faced comedian who found success in nightclubs, television and movies but became most famous as a member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, has died at 89.


Bishop died Wednesday night of multiple causes at his home in Newport Beach, publicist and longtime friend Warren Cowan said Thursday.

Was he just another extra for Frank, Dean, and Sammy? Sintara didn't think so.
He termed the comedian "the Hub of the Big Wheel," with Bishop coming up with
some of the best one-liners and beginning many jokes with his favorite phrase,
"Son of a gun!"


In 1941 Bishop married Sylvia Ruzga and,
despite the rigors of a show business career, the marriage survived until her
death in 1999.

Bishop, who had one son, Larry, spent his retirement
years on the upscale Lido Isle in Southern California's Newport Bay.

Hard to think that "son of a gun" would make a great catch phrase, but apparently it did on stage with the rest of the boys, and in his television show.

I suspect Mitchel at Our Word might be able to tell you a thing or two about Joey's stint as a television talk show host and a sub for Johnny Carson. [Sure enough he did.] I vaguely remember him sitting in on "The Tonight Show" and not knowing who in the flaming hootie-hoo he was.

Still unavailable on video and DVD, "Sergeants 3"... a reworking of the great "Gunga Din" which is a wonderfully fun film, but apparently not everyone thought "Sergeants 3" measured up to its inspiration, or "Oceans 11".

All the same, I'd still like to see it and put it on my shelf. I even have "4 For Texas" with just Dean and Frank (and Ursula Andress and Anita Ekberg, va-va-va-VOOM!) and that doesn't seem to have been fondly thought of over the years.

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