Today, Joey Bishop is the last surviving member of the group. And in a new book called "Mouse in the Rat Pack: The Joey Bishop Story," Michael Starr, a columnist for the New York Post, tells the comedian's story.
Starr discussed his new book and the life of Bishop on Wednesday's The Early Show.
Starr says he wrote the book about Joey Bishop because he doesn't think the comedian received the attention from the public that he deserved.
As part of his research, Starr spent three to four years with the comedian before he wrote the book.
Joey Bishop was once the most popular comedian in America, according to Starr. He was a member of the Rat Pack, appeared on "The Jack Paar Show" regularly and later Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." He also had three shows that carried his name. Two were sitcoms called "The Joey Bishop Show" and he had a talk show called "The Joey Bishop Talk Show." His sideman then was the now popular Regis Philbin.
Joey Bishop was the son of Jewish immigrants and was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb in the Bronx in 1918. He was the fifth child and third son in the family. He grew up in South Philadelphia, Pa. His father was a mechanic by trade and owned a bicycle shop. His mother was a housewife.
After becoming successful as a nightclub performer, Joey Bishop was given a nickname that he hated while working for Chez Paree, the biggest nightclub in Chicago in the 1940s. The comedian's nickname was "The Frown Prince of Comedy," for his world-weary demeanor.
Starr says that after Sinatra met Bishop, the singer made sure that Bishop opened his show for him whenever he was in New York. Bishop became known as Sinatra's comic. "The Chairman of the Board" called Bishop "The Speaker of the House." Starr credits talk show host Jack Paar with turning Joey Bishop into a household name. The comedian appeared on Paar's show semi-regularly.
Bishop is now 85 and lives in Newport Beach, Calif.