In July of 1978 former President Ronald Reagan was one year away from announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. But before he decided to make his run for the White House Reagan stopped by The Dean Martin Martin Celebrity Roast of Frank Sinatra to rib the entertainer.
Sinatra and Reagan were old friends dating back to Reagan’s days as a Hollywood actor, and Reagan had no problem giving Sinatra trouble for why he shouldn’t ever run for president.
“I think Frank Sinatra would be a fine president,” Reagan explains.
“But I don’t know if we could get him to run. Is it worth it if you have to give up being a king?”
Reagan also went in on some of Sinatra’s pals. First, he made light of Dean Martin’s, shall we say, frequent enjoyment of alcohol and other substances (don’t tell First Lady Nancy Reagan!). Then Reagan gave Sammy Davis Jr. some guff for his style, saying that if Sinatra were president Sammy would be the Secretary of Jewelry.
The then former Republican Governor of California had some pretty good zingers all told. He was no Bob Hope or Johnny Carson up there but he had comedy legends like Don Rickles, Jack Benny, and George Burns cracking up, and don’t worry Mrs. Reagan he didn’t even have to go blue with his material.
And you know what one of the best parts of this particular Dean Martin roast was? Reagan didn’t get political in a weird, lame way. There were no low blows against his rival Democrats (just against Congress in general which… fair). He didn’t even make any cringey Richard Nixon jokes. Just some good pointed fun at the expense of a singer from Hoboken.
This story was originally published March 31, 2016.