Above and below, in two parts, I've posted Edward R. Murrow's "Person To Person" show featuring Jerry and Patti Lewis (and four of their not-yet-six kids). If you're reading this blog, you probably know that the show sent cameras into celebrity homes for remote visits, with Murrow sitting in the New York studio smoking and asking not very in-depth questions. Basically the show was house-porn and, while very successful, something of a comedown for the distinguished journalist, who would be dead just a few years after this segment aired (from smoking). Nonetheless it remains compulsive viewing, largely because of the ability to see the houses these people lived in, in all their mid-century glory. (The Bogart/Bacall manse in Holmby Hills is a good one).

The time is somewhere in early to mid 1958, as Jerry references his as yet unreleased late '58 movie "Geisha Boy." The Lewis's have recently moved into the house we see on this show, a Bel Air mansion that formerly belonged to Louis B. Mayer. Nothing about the house seems terribly pre-possessing though it's mentioned at some point that it contains thirty or so rooms. Jerry's kids are cute and Gary (the eldest and a future rock star) does a very funny imitation of his fathers trademark expressions. But it's Jerry's demeanor that makes this worth more than a casual look. The break with Dean Martin is still relatively fresh in the public's mind and Jerry seems extra careful not to come across as brash, bossy, spoiled or self-loving--in other words, everything the public heard he was as the split with Dino was developing and playing itself out. Instead he adopts a new, improved and carefully calculated off-screen persona. This Jerry is exceedingly respectful of Murrow, downplays his own success, plays up his 'humility' and responsibility to his supportive public, and in general looks and acts like he's about to announce a run for political office. It's so discomforting and insincere that you'll find yourself yearning for the wild, argumentative, overbearingly self-regarding Jerry that is usually on view when he's being interviewed. Fortunately we have more than a few of those at our disposal...

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