What began as a ratings booster for the final season of “The Dean Martin Show” in 1973 evolved into “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts”, an eagerly awaited franchise of regular NBC Television specials that targeted the biggest names in the world of entertainment and beyond. From Bob Hope to Muhammad Ali, Johnny Carson to Lucille Ball, Gov. Ronald Reagan to Redd Foxx (roasted twice), anybody with a thick skin and a good agent was fair game. Roastmaster General Martin kept things loose and lively, deflecting his share of stray barbs from the guest roasters.
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