Goodbye to Joey Bishop

Goodbye to Joey Bishop
Joey Bishop, the deadpan comedian and final member of the “Rat Pack”, died on October 17, 2007 at his home in New Port Beach, California. Bishop was 89. He married Sylvia Ruzga in 1941 and together they had one son, Larry Bishop. Ruzga died in 1999 from lung cancer.

Bishop is survived by his son, Larry, his grandchildren, Scott and Kirk Bishop, and his longtime companion, Nora Garabotti.

Rat Pack Facts:
Peter Lawford – Peter Sydney Lawford, September 7, 1923 to December 24, 1984
Sammy Davis, Jr. – Samuel George Davis, Jr., December 8, 1925 to May 16, 1990
Dean Martin – Dino Paul Crocetti, June 7, 1917 to December 25, 1995
Frank Sinatra – Francis Albert Sinatra, December 12, 1915 to May 14, 1998
Joey Bishop – Joseph Abraham Gottlieb, February 3, 1918 to October 17, 2007

Movies of Interest:
Ocean's Eleven – 1960 movie starring the five Rat Packers: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

The Rat Pack - 1998 movie – featuring Ray Liotta as Frank Sinatra, Joe Mantegna as Dean Martin, Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Slayton as Joey Bishop and Angus Macfadyen as Peter Lawford.

Then . . . like with most great things, there is most always a remake.

Ocean's Eleven – 2001 movie – featuring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, and Carl Reiner.

And that is why they call it “Pop Culture”:
When I sat down last year to make out my holiday shopping list, I simply wrote Dean Martin stuff beside my best friend’s name. Kelly and I have been friends for several years and she has an incredible and eclectic music collection ranging from the likes of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to Collective Soul and Ludacris.

Last November Kelly spent the week of Thanksgiving with my family. It was a good time to quiz her on the titles she already had in her Dean Martin collection. To my surprise, I found that her initial interest in Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra had evolved to the “Rat Pack”.

Now, before I continue, I need to point out that there are quite a few years between Kelly and I, me being the oldest, and I was amazed that she was interested in this era of entertainment. She asked me what I knew about the five. Not totally before my time, yet I had limited memories, so I took her to see an expert – Lena, my mother.

It was interesting to hear my mom’s memories and how this group almost seemed like royalty at times. The parties, the people, the women. To me, it didn’t seem too different from the way we talk about some of our celebrities today. She said there were inside fights and falling-outs that stretched over months into years. But, the one thing that really caught my attention was the change the “Rat Pack” made on Las Vegas and the entertainment industry as a whole. She told us that there were times when places in Las Vegas wouldn’t let Sammy Davis, Jr. in their clubs to play because of segregation. So, the “Rat Pack” would simply refuse to play in those establishments. I did some research on my own and found that many of these places had to reform "certain" policies because the public loved the five and wanted to see them. This later forced a major change in segregation polices throughout clubs in Las Vegas.

That’s a very good thing. I also think sharing Pop Culture is a very good thing and I have added several titles to Kelly’s collection as well as a book and a movie. Her brother also gave her a wonderful framed picture of the “The Rat Pack” posing outside the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

Oddly enough, I read today that the Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (which had been scheduled to be demolished) was taken down less than 24 hours after Joey Bishop died.

Some things may disappear; memories will linger forever.

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