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Joey Bishop and the PR.com Interview That Never Was
By Allison Kugel, Senior Editor - October 18, 2007

Joey Bishop
Joey Bishop
 
Joey Bishop & Sheldon Manheim
Joey Bishop & Sheldon Manheim
 
Joey Bishop & Sheldon Manheim
Joey Bishop & Sheldon Manheim
Joey Bishop, the last surviving member of The Rat Pack, passed away yesterday at his Newport Beach, California home at the age of 89. It was a little more than two years ago when PR.com spoke with the retired comedian at his Newport Beach home for what would have been one of his last interviews. Unfortunately it was never completed. During the conversation Bishop suddenly became very disoriented and fatigued and could not continue to speak with us. Joey Bishop’s passing is especially poignant because Editor-in-Chief of PR.com Jason Manheim’s father was friends with the late star for over twenty years.

On a weekday afternoon in the spring of 2005, I telephoned the home of Joey Bishop to conduct an interview with the legendary performer, when after exchanging a few pleasantries Bishop was unable to answer our questions and grew increasingly tired and withdrawn on the phone. After we attempted to re-schedule the interview to take place in his home, it was decided that he was not up to the task at hand, and today we feel regretful for that missed opportunity.

Joey Bishop was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb to a Jewish family in The Bronx, New York on February 3, 1918. He grew up in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he continues to be a hometown hero to this day. Longtime friend and father of PR.com Editor-in-Chief, Jason Manheim, Sheldon Manheim has extremely fond memories of his friend, adding that, “Joey Bishop would always be asked to be Master of Ceremonies at local events whenever he would come home. He never did it for the money. He genuinely loved supporting his hometown.” Joey Bishop began his career doing vaudeville in a comedy trio called The Bishop Trio. Bishop eventually became a solo act and it was his famous alliance with four other well known performers that would put him on the map. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop regularly performed together in Las Vegas and were affectionately referred to as The Rat Pack throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The Rat Pack worked and played in flamboyant fashion that hasn’t been seen since, but according to Bishop, the group also took stands on important social issues and were very progressive thinkers.

According to Sheldon Manheim (CEO of BusinessBrokers.com), “Joey’s proudest moment as a member of The Rat Pack came in the early 1960’s when Sammy Davis Jr. was not allowed in certain hotels in Las Vegas. Headed up by Frank Sinatra, all five men told an upscale Las Vegas hotel that if Sammy could not come in through the front door of the hotel and eat in the hotel, they would leave and never return to the hotel again. Joey hated the bad rep that Frank Sinatra got, because Frank was always the first to stand up for what he believed in and always the first person to give away his time and money to charities.” Joey Bishop also confided that of the entire Rat Pack, he never once saw Dean Martin get drunk or even take a drink. “Dean was purely a family man; he had a real home life,” Bishop confessed.

Joey Bishop went on to star in The Joey Bishop Show from 1961 to 1965 and then got his own late night talk show of the same name, which he hosted from 1967 to 1969. During his short lived stint in late night television, Bishop’s sidekick was a young Regis Philbin. Pitted up against Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show for ratings, The Joey Bishop Show faltered after only two years. Bishop confided to Sheldon Manheim that he constantly had trouble getting quality guests for his show because they were afraid to get on Johnny’s bad side. Manheim explained that Joey revealed to him, “I couldn’t even get some of my friends to come on my show because they were afraid that if they came on my show, Johnny Carson’s producers would never have them back on again.”

According to Manheim, loyalty to his friends was Joey Bishop’s top priority. “Shortly after Frank Sinatra died, Joey was offered several million dollars to write a tell-all book about his days with The Rat Pack and he flat out turned it down! Joey turned to me and said, ‘Shelly, I would not do it. Those are my friends.’”

Joey Bishop and the PR.com Interview That Never Was


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