The revelry of the legendary Rat Pack defined the swinging sixties. Although the Pack-- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop-- were mainstays in Las Vegas, there was no complete recording of any of their performances together. Until April, 1997, when The Museum of Television and Radio held the premiere of a 1965 closed-circuit TV spectacular. Special Guests at the premiere included Mrs. Barbara Sinatra, Tina Sinatra, Mrs. Jeannie Martin,  Mrs. Elvira Davis (Sammy's mother), and Angie Dickinson The film was never before seen publicly, and recently discovered by producer Paul Brownstein.

On June 20, 1965, Frank Sinatra organized a "summit meeting" in St. Louis as a fundraiser for one of his favorite charities, Dismas House, the first halfway house for ex-convicts. The special was originally televised to a select group of theaters, in a precursor of a pay-per-view event. Sinatra, Martin, and Davis are each in the spotlight for a selection of songs, then it is hellzapoppin when the Rat Pack swing and raucously joke together.


Will Friedwald, author of the highly acclaimed Sinatra! The Song Is You, says of this special: "This is more than the most amazing video of the Rat Pack: it's the only recorded performance--in any medium--that fully documents the remarkable magnetism and energy of Sinatra, Davis, and Martin together at full throttle." The benefit also offers some surprises. Rat Pack court jester, Joey Bishop, had hurt his back and is replaced here by the youthful Johnny Carson, who had been host of The Tonight Show for less than three years. Quincy Jones conducts a combination of bands.

The kinescope of the live program was tracked down by Brownstein to a closet in the secretary's office at Dismas House of St. Louis.  and then transferred to digital videotape. It was donated to the Museum by Dismas House, which is still in operation. Named after Father Dismas Clark (known as the "Hoodlum Priest"), it was the first halfway house for ex-convicts.

This amazing show captures the music and high spirits of the Rat Pack in ring-a-ding-ding action!

 

Note: For the Museum screenings, the program was edited down to focus on the Rat Pack's performance. The uncut original includes energetic performances by Count Basie, the Step Brothers, Kaye Stevens, and Trini Lopez,  and is available for private viewing at The Museum of Television and Radio in New York and Beverly Hills.



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The Rat Pack Captured is presented as part of the Museum and Nick at Nite's ongoing "Lost" Program series, through which the Museum tries to find programs for which no copies of the tapes are known to exist. In the Spring of 1996, the two organizations launched a campaign to heighten awareness of the need to preserve television programming.


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