I remember watching this as it happened 47 years ago: a moment of pop culture history that made headlines around the world. Frank Sinatra engineered the reunion of one of the greatest entertainment partnerships: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, live on national television during Lewis’s traditional Labor Day Telethon. It was kitschy, schmaltzy, and wonderful.

Three legends, 0ne embrace, and an epic reminder that life is short and time is fleeting. Grudges aren’t worth it.

And the telethon! For a lot of us, it was the ultimate variety show, must-see TV for the last weekend of summer — a reminder that there were books to buy and new desks to use and, next weekend, there would be homework. Watching the telethon was a way of marking the passing of the seasons. It was a simpler time. Moments like this were possible. The melody that played again and again during the show — “What the World Needs Now (Is Love, Sweet Love)” — took on new meaning.

As Vanity Fair described it several years ago:

[Martin and Lewis]  had a phenomenal 10-year run. They were boffo on radio, television, and in movies and nightclubs. But an insurmountable abyss gradually grew between them—and on July 24, 1956, 10 years to the day of their first appearance as a team, they gave their last nightclub performance at New York’s famed Copacabana (the hottest spot . . . well, you know).

It took 20 years for them to get back together, with Sinatra pulling the strings.

Gary Lewis, Jerry’s son, and the front man of the 1960s A.M.-radio hitmakers Gary Lewis and the Playboys, recalls asking his father what he was thinking when Dean came out onstage. “He told me his mind was going a million miles an hour,” he said in a phone interview. Lewis asked himself, “How am I going to handle this? Am I going to joke with him? Am I going to talk normal?”

What Jerry ultimately came up with was a pitch-perfect in-joke, a poignant callback to their first meeting. To his former partner, he asked, “So, you workin’?”

“They loved each other,” Deana Martin said. “There was something amazing about Dad. He was nice and sweet and kind to everyone, and he would let things go. But when he had it up to here, he’d had it up to here. There was no fight or any yelling. He would just be done.”

And so it was up to Frank Sinatra to stage a reconciliation. “He’s the only person who could have achieved something like that,” stated Mark Rozzano, Jerry Lewis’s manager, in a phone interview. No one in the Sinatra or Martin families was aware of his plan. “[I] was as surprised as everybody else,” Nancy Sinatra said in an e-mail. “My dad really knew how to keep a secret.”

Take a look.