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July 24, 2011


Jason Scott

This is an amazing, stunning, beautiful piece of work. Thank you for researching and writing it.


awesome read!


Thanks again for another fine piece.

(As always, a weird synchronicity pervades your posts: in the last couple of days I've seen a Wrecking Crew documentary and read Dick Van Dyke's memoirs, in which Michelle Triola figures prominently. Weird.)


The Dick Haymes soundalike mentioned, "Bob Mannings", must actually be the great Bob Manning, a terrific ballad singer whose "Lonely Spell" is one of my favorite albums of all time.

forked tongue

You can see the Lodge in situ starting at about 1:46 of this:

It's also shown near the beginning of Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid, which features Dean's greatest/sleaziest film performance.

Deke Thornton

The photo of Dean and buddies sitting around the large table is interesting - wonder what the occasion was? I can pick out Sinatra, Edie Adams and Ernie Kovacs (hidden, yet obvious!). Am I right? Anybody else of note in there?


I always wondered about the background of the place. Thanks for a great report.

Jake T

As a Nashvillian, I have watched more than a few celebrity-themed restaurants rise and fall spectacularly. This article should be required reading for celebrities. Discovered your blog after I friended Drew Friedman on FB--in fact, I used what I take to be his rendition of Dave The Spazz as a profile pic for a while--and I have yet to be disappointed.


The debacle that is the recent 6-DVD set of The Dean Martin Show is small potatoes compared to the sad story of Dino's!

Is it Michele Lee the actress who was one of the "girl singers" who sang at Dino's? I do know she can sing and had recorded years ago.

Another evocative bit of writing!


Another fantastic article....I'll read pretty much whatever you're writing about....more, please!

Big Lar

The Dino's Lodge sign can be seen in color in the movie "The Human Duplicators".


The phrase 'his diner of spite' is a fine one.

M. Bouffant

I lived just across the street from Dino's, at 8497 Sunset Blvd. in 1973 & 74. As you typed, whatever glitz & glamour had been there was long gone by then.

Don't remember the Sea Witch down the street in the photo atop the menu, but that must have been before my time.

I still live in L.A., but haven't been by Sunset & La Cienega for some time. When I do go by, I usually look at the bldg. where I used to live, so I couldn't even tell you what the Lodge is now.

M. Bouffant

Well, now that I've read the whole thing, I see that Dino's is just no more. I'll be damned. I really must start paying more attention.

Michael Powers

Have no idea how Deke recognized anyone but Dean Martin in that photo, if we're talking about the same one, and as I'm writing this, it's dawning on me that he was joking.

This was a superb article. Dino's Lodge did loom large in popular culture for a long time and I always figured it had an intriguing back story. As far as I can remember, I didn't know much of anything behind the scenes with this place except that it did end badly, as is almost always the case with such ventures.

And yes, Dean Martin was in deep trouble before they yanked Tony Randall out of "The Young Lions" starring Brando and Clift and dropped Martin into his spot, launching the spectacular post-Lewis phase of his movie career. Jackie Gleason was practically the only one prior to that who told everyone that Martin would eventually be bigger than Lewis because his talent was so perfect for movies and television.


No joke there - that's Edie Adams and Ernie Kovacs to Dean's left. The photo is from the December, nineteen fifty-eight issue of Life magazine.

dino martin peters

Hey pallie, Mr. Nesteroff, likes this is truly truly one of the finest pieces of Dino-prose that I have ever had the pleasure to so rich in Dino-details that I have never known before....simply, purely Dino-magical. Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth...likes knows that your Dino-reflections are bein' shared this very Dino-day at ilovedinomartin...likes keeps lovin' our most beloved Dino!

Kip W

Duke Martin was fairly awful, but Sammy Petrillo was kind of uncanny. At moments, he looked and sounded exactly like Jerry Lewis, and then he'd veer away and lose the resemblance. Good directing might have helped. The lawsuit, if I understand correctly, is the only reason they quit with one movie. Petrillo was with us until 2009. It's kind of too bad Lewis never found a way to use him in a movie. There could have been some laughs there.

Robert Lett

Fascinating read, thank you!

Marilyn Roche

I so enjoyed this trying to share it with my brother-in-law who is a huge Dean Martin fan...anyone have any ideas how I might share this...i've tried everyway I know how but so far am unable to share to his email address or facebook page...;( Please help...and thanks so much, Marilyn A. Roche ;(

Josh Pincus

Sammy Petrillo can now be found HERE at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.

Michael Powers

Sammy Petrillo was so uncannily like Jerry Lewis that Petrillo's very existence drove Lewis crazy. There's an online interview with a "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" producer in which he talks about Lewis showing up on the set making threats and acting insane (or maybe it was a Petrillo interview). In the 60s, there was a Mitchell and Petrillo television series in the works at one point, with Dean Martin as the secret production backer! Makes perfect sense if you think about it. No better way to make Lewis crazy than to give his nemesis a television series. Too bad it never came off, I love Petrillo, his work in "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" remains endlessly fascinating.

Michael Powers

I remember watching "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" in a subway bar near Times Square a few years ago, where there was a spare room off to the side where they'd run movies with a little projector for us reeling, staggering, vomiting drunks one night a week (personally, I came into the bar's premiere of this particular picture on all fours). Some guy comes in at the middle of the movie and looks at the screen quizzically then asks me, "Is that Jerry Lewis?" I deadpanned, "No, that's Sammy Petrillo" as though it was the most everyday, ordinary, pedestrian statement that anyone could possibly make. I'll never forget the way his face contorted with confusion as he looked back at the screen.


The place actually did help launch ONE female singer's career. Michele Lee (after dropping the second 'L" from her first name) did move on to Broadway stardom in "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", then a number of film roles, some pop record releases and later a long run of 14 seasons co-starring in the hit CBS TV series Knot's Landing. Not bad for someone who started out as a lounge singer right out of high school...

Shay Godwin Session Drummer

Immediately after reading this, I went on a search for "A Night At Dino's Lodge". It took me a while but I found a used LP copy on eBay, and it looks to be in decent condition. I am rather obsessed with the "Wrecking Crew" of session musicians who ruled L.A. recording studios for years. The bassist on "A Night At Dino's Lodge", Steve LaFever, was a part of the Wrecking Crew. The late, great Earl Palmer of the Wrecking Crew was one of the first people I met in Los Angeles. As a session drummer, Palmer was a great inspiration to me. He recorded drum tracks for literally hundreds of hit records, movies, and television shows. Palmer was also very encouraging to me personally which I will always remember and appreciate. I also am acquainted with bassist Carol Kaye of the Wrecking Crew. The influential Hollywood icons who frequented Dino's Lodge were probably rubbing elbows with members of the Wrecking Crew without necessarily realizing what a gigantic contribution these folks made to music and pop culture -- anonymously. By reading this blog I have unexpectedly found a Wrecking Crew rarity, so I !

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