Review of The Rat Pack – Footage from ‘Live at Kiel Opera House 1965’

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There is little singing, but a great atmosphere is obvious in this extract from The Rat Pack live at Kiel Opera House, filmed in 1965:


Legendary singer Frank Sinatra encourages Sammy Davis Junior to do some impressions of celebrity actors of the time. Every time Davis begins an impression (which was one of his notable talents additionally to singing) he is light-heartedly interrupted by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra who take over and attempt impersonations including Anthony Quinn and Cary Grant themselves! Witty banter is exchanged throughout. Davis’ final attempt to impersonate Jimmy Cagney is interrupted by a joke from Sinatra: “If all the women in Texas were as ugly as your Mama, the Lone Ranger gonna be alone for a long time!” which is well received by Davis and the audience.

It is easy to see from this footage that there was a great, warm ambience that night and although all the Rat Pack pokes fun at each other it is meant in a light-hearted friendly way with no offence intended.

Although African-American Sammy Davis Junior had been a victim of racism for most of his life, it is apparent from this clip that he had a great sense of humour and a great friendship and rapport with Italian-American’s Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It is reassuring to watch that they laugh with him and not at him.

The full event was held in the main theatre of the Opera House, but there was such a demand for tickets that twelve halls nearby were also used as rooms to watch the show via a link on CCTV. Interestingly, this is the only television performance of a full show of all the Rat Pack together. It was organised to raise money for a halfway house for convicts. The trio are accompanied by presenter Johnny Carson, who at the time was relatively new to households as he had been presenting shows for just less than three years. Quincy Jones is featured in this clip leading the orchestra.

This is worth checking out as it serves as a reminder that there was more to the Rat Pack than the great crooning that has been revitalised and still remains popular today.

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