Three blocks west of George Burns Drive on Beverly Boulevard, in the California Room of Chasen's, where they once were known to hold court until closing time, the three best-known survivors of the Rat Pack reconvened Tuesday.
Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra made their rare press conference appearance to announce a 29-city nationwide concert tour that will begin in March--a concert tour noteworthy for the fact that none of the concert sites are within 100 miles of Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
"The reason for the tour is so the people can see us," said Davis, 61, the youngest of the trio. Both gambling meccas have had ample opportunities to see all three entertainers in dinner shows, Davis said.
But at a top-end price of $40 per ticket and with a selection of concert sites that include sports arenas, the tour that begins March 13 at the Oakland Coliseum will give non-gambling Middle America a chance to see two hours of song and dance and cutting up.
"Mostly what we're going to try to do is have a mitzvah (blessing)," said Davis, who apologized for the trio for showing up at a morning press conference in West Hollywood in tuxedos.
"Don't believe him. We've come home in these many times," quipped Sinatra, 71.
As if replaying a lounge act, the Rat Packers grounded their ad libs and answers in death-defying talk about cigarettes, alcohol and carousing until the wee hours. In a brief confrontation with KABC-TV Channel 7's movie-rating entertainment correspondent Gary Franklin, all three men defended their right to smoke.
"You interrupted me," said Davis. "That's a 2 on the Franklin Scale."
Sinatra, who made a show of raking his flip-top cigarette lighter over his hip and, then, lighting up on the dais, said that the three would hold down their smoking during the tour.
"I smoke during the cocktail hour," the Chairman of the Board said.
"I smoke during dinner," said Martin, 70.
Asked the inevitable question about the origins of the term Rat Pack , Sinatra said Humphrey Bogart was the founder of the informal group that teamed on stage, in movies and even to some degree in politics during the late '50s and early '60s.
"Now it's a little mice pack," said Martin.
Original members Bogart and actor Peter Lawford have died. Others, such as actress Shirley MacLaine, have been drummed out of the pack, said Martin.
"She was the only rat we know," he said.
No Southern California sites for the tour have been selected, but at least two sites will be named for summer play dates. At present, their opening show in Oakland remains the closest to Los Angeles.
All three men have had their share of medical problems in recent years, with Sinatra undergoing intestinal surgery earlier this year and Davis due for a hip operation Dec. 10, two days after his 62nd birthday. Davis assured reporters that he would be able to dance by the time the tour opens in March.
Despite their ages and infirmities, the survivors of the Rat Pack seemed intent on not becoming known as the geriatric Rat Pack.
"Being of your age, does it frustrate you that you don't have the stamina of a 20-year-old?" they were asked by one reporter who was booed to sit down by his peers.
"I still have the same stamina I had as a 20-year-old, and I can flatten anybody here," boasted Martin.
Besides, he said more seriously, "if you retire, you die in two years."