Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure and the great experience of working with the Monkees. But the way I got the job was not so simple and there’s a long and funny story along the way. So, if you like, I’ll start at the beginning and tell you how I got to work with Davy, Peter, Micky and Mike.
To begin we’ll have to go way back to England. I was in England at college and that’s where I first heard about the Monkees. I had heard their records and I thought the records were cute, but I never really gave it much thought.
You could write a book on my crazy flight home, but I must tell you about it to let you know the condition I was in the first time I saw the Monkees. The night before I left England I was given a going away party where I slammed my finger in the door and it was so bad I needed stitches, but we couldn’t get any real medical help, so we just bandaged it up.
The next morning I got on this rickety old train with all my things to go to London. I was really having a hard time because I was really in pain, I was all alone, and I couldn’t even cut my food!
Crazy airport scene
Arriving at the airport the next day was hysterical. Here I am, I have on jeans, boots, a white sweater, a fur coat and my hair was very long and straggely [sic] and I was very sick, and I have a huge bandage on my hand.
I’m trying to get all my luggage and trunks into the airport and this reporter is walking beside me saying, “Miss Martin, why are you leaving?” and I’m telling him I’ve gotta go home and would he mind carrying some of my things. So he helped me.
I get out to the steps of the plane and all of a sudden I hear cheering and I turn around and look and there’s a crowd of photographers yelling, “Wave to us, Miss Martin!” And I’m thinking, “They couldn’t be out here for me!”
I turned around again and I heard “Mr. Harrison…” and I think, “Harrison… George Harrison?” and I say, “No, they didn’t say Harrison, they said Harris.” And it was Richard Harris, and then I saw Vanessa Redgrave and Robert Morley and they were all on the same flight as me and I guess they were on their way over to do “Camelot.”
It was an awful flight because I was really in pain and I couldn’t even cut my meat. Then when we arrived I had to go through customs with all my trunks and I had a painting under my arm and then the pain. It was four o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived.
So I’m in line at customs and we haven’t moved for an hour and Richard Harris is standing right behind me. He looks over all my luggage that’s piled higher than he is and he says, “Coming for the weekend?” And I say, “Yes,” coming right back at him, joking. So it’s getting later and three more flights have come in and finally I get out of there at 6:30.
Anyway, I got home and Gina says the first thing, “Have you seen the Monkees?” I said, “No, I haven’t seen them, Gina, I haven’t seen anything.” So she made me sit down and watch them right then.
Gina kept saying, “Look at the little one,” meaning Davy. He had really long hair and I said, “He’s got to be insane!” I mean, long hair I adore, but his was ridiculous. Remember, this was just before he got it cut and it was all down his neck.
I introduced a group one night at the Daisy and there I am in front of all these lights and I see this one little head sticking out from the table and it’s Davy. I had only seen him once on TV and for some reason it really embarrassed me. It’s really strange because Dean Martin is my father, right, so I’ve seen every movie star possible and it’s like nothing because that’s the way I’ve been brought up. Then I saw Davy and I was flabbergasted.
I got home that night and I said, “Gina, I saw Davy Jones.” She said, “Did you talk to him?” I said, “No, I didn’t because he scurried out right after the show.”
A friend of mine named Sandra, who is the daughter of a woman who works for us, was friends with a girl who lived in the same apartment building as Davy. Sandra had gotten together with her friend and said how cute Davy and I would be together and they tried to arrange a meeting.
So I got this telephone call from Sandra who says Davy is coming over to play pool on Sunday at her friend’s house. I said, “Great.” And I got all dressed up on Sunday and nothing. I said, “Maybe he forgot.”
More phone calls
She called me later and said Davy had called and apologized that he didn’t make it, that he’d gone to Palm Springs and forgotten. I thought this was really getting ridiculous. I said, “I’m gonna meet him.” I called my sister’s road manager and asked him if he knew anyone down at Screen Gems.
He said, “Yeah,” and so he had his friend take Davy my number. That night I called my answering service and they said, “There’s nothing for you, but David Jones called Dino.” I said, “David Jones called Dino! What’s the number?”
So I called the number and I’m scared to death. I said, “David Jones, please.” He said, “This is David Jones.” And I said, “Well, David Jones, this is Deana Martin.” He said, “Hello, Deana Martin, this is David Jones.” I said, “Yes, I can’t believe it’s you.” He said, “I can hardly believe it’s you either. You’re harder to get in touch with than the President!”
Finally we meet
I said, “Maybe so, but not harder to get in touch with than you.” So he said, “When would you like to play pool? I’m going to Palm Springs this weekend, I’ll call you Monday.
So he calls on Monday and it’s nine o’clock and he says, “When would you like to play pool?” And I said, “Whenever you want to.” He said, “Okay, in an hour.” I said, “Okay.” So he says, “Where?” Gina, of course, is standing next to me pulling on me because she knows it’s Davy. I said, “Definitely, we should play here.”
An hour later he’s standing at the front door with his pool cue. I said, “Hello, I’m Deana Martin.” And he said, “Yes, I figured that,” and he walks in and we play pool.
That evening I was terrified because I’m not very good at pool and David is really good. So he said, “This sounds kind of strange, but do you like plays? Maybe we could go to a play sometime.” So I said, “Sure, I’d love to.” So we started dating and we would go out about once a week and we’ve been dating ever since.
I have always wanted to be an actress and I’ve been studying drama, so when I came back from England I began to take it more seriously. The problem was I had a lot of experience—TV shows and appearances—but I hadn’t done any acting on film.
So I had told my agent that I needed to get a little part on something just so I could have some film so I could say, “Here’s what I’ve done.” I asked my agent to see if he couldn’t get me a little part on the “Virginian” or some TV show like that or maybe even the Monkees. (This was before I met Davy.)
Getting the part
So my agent said he would work on it. Then I met Davy and one day I was at the ranch where the Monkees were filming and David introduced me to Jim Frawley, one of their directors.
Jim says, “Nice to meet you, are you an actress?” David, without hesitation takes my hand and stands me up, because I’m a tiny bit smaller than him, and he says, “Can’t you see she’s an actress!” And Jim says, “Yes. Have your agent send me a picture.” And I said, “Okay, great.”
Well, I told my agent and nothing happened. Then I was on tour with the group I was with for a while and when I left the group I got a new agent and he had set up something at Screen Gems.
So we went to see the head of casting for the Monkees and we’re talking to him and he says, “For the Monkees we usually have David Jones and a girl in the romantic roles.” And he doesn’t know that I’ve been dating Davy. He says, “For the romantic role the girl has to be very short.”
So I let them know I was 5'3", and he said, “If we ever have a script come up where we could use you, I’ll give you a call.” And that’s like saying “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Before I left the studio I went down to the set to see Davy. Davy tells me he just heard of a script that the girl has to play a boy and the boy has to play a girl. He says, “And I was thinking of you.”
He said, “Don’t you think it would be fun?” I thought, “Fun… how glamorous for my first role.” And he said, “No, it’s a very funny story, so maybe we’ll do it, okay?” I said, “great” but they only had two more shows to finish before the filming ended and I figured I’d never do one of those.
So one day I was busy going on an interview for a film and my agent called and said there was a role in the Monkees and although it’s not a big part, it’s the feminine lead. He told me a few things and then he said, do you think you’d consent to doing it? I told him I’d call him back.
Talk with dad
I wanted to talk to my Dad. I said, “Dad, do you think I should do one of the Monkee shows. Do you think it would typecast me as a funny short little girl? Do you think it would hurt?” And Dad said, “Deana, you don’t have any film on you and you need some and you know Davy and you’ll have a lot of fun.” So I said, “You’re right.”
I called my agent back and he made all the arrangements. So that’s the long and crazy story of how I got to work with those loveable Monkees. Next month I’ll tell you what it was like to work with the four guys and how Davy played that girl and I played that guy!