This clip from a 1978 Jimmy Stewart roast, HE’s third Orson Welles post since Wednesday, includes remarks from emcee Dean Martin and a brief shot of June Allyson laughing along. I was immediately reminded of Nick Tosches‘ descriptions of their 1948 affair, surely one of the strangest extra-marital couplings in Hollywood history, in Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams.
There are some couples who just seem “right” together, and there are some that make you wonder how and why. The idea of the cynical but easygoing Martin — married with children, easy-friendly with certain gangsters, and a serious poon-hound in his prime — getting all hot and nasty with Allyson, who always seemed so enveloped in the legend of being “America’s Sweetheart” that it was difficult to imagine her having had sex at all, with anyone, has, for me, always fit into the latter category.
At the time of their affair Allyson was married to actor-director Dick Powell , with whom she had two kids (one adopted, one natural). Martin was on the downslope of a difficult marriage to Betty McDonald, with whom he’d had four kids.
In a N.Y. Times review of Allyson’s sunny and peppy autobiography, which came out in ’82, Janet Maslin wrote that Allyson “presents herself as the same sunny, tomboyish figure she played on screen Hollywood…like someone who has come to inhabit the very myths she helped to create on the screen.”