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R.I.P. Joey Bishop

Rat_packThe last of Frank Sinatra’s infamous “Rat Pack” is now gone with the death of comedian Joey Bishop at the age of 89.

The epitome of free-living bachelorhood for ongoing generations of American men, the Rat Pack began during the shooting of the 1959 film Ocean’s Eleven in Las Vegas. Sinatra, Bishop, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. would spend their evenings putting on a show, as much for themselves as any spectators, at the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel. The act became so popular they took it on the road, to Miami, Atlantic City and Palm Springs. Bishop was largely the groups straight man, his deadpan delivery adding contrast to the drunken antics of his peers (though he later claimed the drinking was only a pose). He is also credited with writing many of the jokes that the others delivered.

The Rat Pack appeared in another film, Sergeants 3, in 1962, but after a falling out with Sinatra Bishop wasn’t on board for Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964).

Bishop maintained a career as a stand-up comic and character actor.  He hosted a late-night talk show that competed with Johnny Carson in the late 1960s. His sidekick was a then-unknown named Regis Philbin.

Martin Scorsese, who has long wanted to make a film about Dean Martin, says that one of the reasons the movie will never be made is because he’ll never get the cast he wants, which would include Adam Sandler as Bishop.

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