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Dean Martin

Enjoying great success in music, film, television, and the stage, Dean Martin was less an entertainer than an icon, the eternal essence of cool. A member of the legendary Rat Pack, he lived and died the high life of booze, broads and bright lights, always projecting a sense of utter detachment and serenity; along with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the other chosen few who breathed the same rarefied air, Martin -- highball and cigarette always firmly in hand -- embodied the glorious excess of a world long gone, a world without rules or consequences. Throughout it all, he remained just outside the radar of understanding, the most distant star in the firmament; as his biographer Nick Tosches once noted, Martin was what the Italians called a menefreghista -- "one who simply does not give a f***."

Dino Paul Crocetti was born on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio; the son of an immigrant barber, he spoke only Italian until the age of five, and at school was the target of much ridicule for his broken English. He ultimately quit school at the age of 16, going to work in the steel mills; as a boxer named Kid Crochet, he also fought a handful of amateur bouts, and later delivered bootleg liquor. After landing a job as a croupier in a local speakeasy, he made his first connections with the underworld, bringing him into contact with club owners all over the Midwest; initially rechristening himself Dean Martini, he had a nose job and set out to become a crooner, modeling himself after his acknowledged idol, Bing Crosby. Hired by bandleader Sammy Watkins, he dropped the second "i" from his stage name and eventually enjoyed minor success on the New York club circuit, winning over audiences with his loose, mellow vocal style.

Despite his good looks and easygoing charm, Martin's early years as an entertainer were largely unsuccessful. In 1946 -- the year he issued his first single, "Which Way Did My Heart Go?" -- he first met another struggling performer, a comic named Jerry Lewis; later that year, while Lewis was playing Atlantic City's 500 Club, another act abruptly quit the show, and the comedian suggested Martin to fill the void. Initially, the two performed separately, but one night they threw out their routines and teamed on-stage, a Mutt-and-Jeff combo whose wildly improvisational comedy quickly made them a star attraction along the Boardwalk. Within months, Martin and Lewis' salaries rocketed from $350 to $5000 a week, and by the end of the 1940s they were the most popular comedy duo in the nation. In 1949, they made their film debut in My Friend Irma, and their supporting work proved so popular with audiences that their roles were significantly expanded for the sequel, the following year's My Friend Irma Goes West.

With 1951's At War with the Army, Martin and Lewis earned their first star billing. The picture established the basic formula of all of their subsequent movie work, with Martin the suave straight man forced to suffer the bizarre antics of the manic fool Lewis. Critics often loathed the duo, but audiences couldn't get enough -- in all, they headlined 13 comedies for Paramount, among them 1952's Jumping Jacks, 1953's Scared Stiff and 1955's Artists and Models, a superior effort directed by Frank Tashlin. For 1956's Hollywood or Bust, Tashlin was again in the director's seat, but the movie was the team's last; after Martin and Lewis' relationship soured to the point where they were no longer even speaking to one another, they announced their breakup following the conclusion of their July 25, 1956 performance at the Copacabana, which celebrated to the day the tenth anniversary of their first show.

While most onlookers predicted continued superstardom for Lewis, the general consensus was that Martin would falter as a solo act; after all, outside of the 1953 smash "That's Amore," his solo singing career had never quite hit its stride, and in light of the continued ascendancy of rock & roll, his future looked dim. After suffering a failure with Ten Thousand Bedrooms, Martin's next move was to appear in the 1958 drama The Young Lions, starring alongside Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando; that same year he also hosted The Dean Martin Show, the first of his color specials for NBC television. Both projects were successful, as were his live appearances at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas; in particular, The Young Lions proved him a highly capable dramatic actor. Combined with another hit single, "Volare," Martin was everywhere that year, and with the continued success of his many TV specials, he effectively conquered movies, music, television and the stage all at the same time -- a claim no other entertainer, not even Sinatra, could make.

Even at the peak of his fame, however, Martin remained strangely contemptuous of stardom; for a man whose presence in the public eye was almost constant, he was utterly elusive, beyond the realm of mortal understanding. As his celebrity and power grew, he slipped even further away: in early 1959, his movie with Sinatra, Some Came Running, hit theaters, and with it came the dawning of the Rat Pack. Together, Sinatra and Martin -- in tandem with their acolytes Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Shirley MacLaine -- set new standards of celebrity hipsterdom, becoming avatars of the good life; flexing their muscle not only in show business but also in politics -- their ties to John F. Kennedy, Lawford's brother-in-law and an honorary Rat Packer code-named "Chicky Baby," are now legend -- they were the new American gods, and Las Vegas was their Mount Olympus.

Martin -- who continued to impress critics in films like the 1959 Howard Hawks classic Rio Bravo -- was Sinatra's right-hand man, the drunkest and most enigmatic member of the Rat Pack (so named in homage to the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, a bygone drinking circle that had once gathered around Humphrey Bogart); his allegiance to Sinatra was total, and Martin even left his longtime label Capitol to record for and financially back Sinatra's own Reprise imprint. In 1960, the Rat Pack starred in Ocean's Eleven, filming in Las Vegas during the day and then taking over the Sands each night; two years later, they reconvened for Sergeants 3. However, in late 1963 -- while filming the third Rat Pack opus, Robin and the Seven Hoods -- the news came that Kennedy had been assassinated; in effect, as America struggled to pick up the pieces, the Rat Pack's reign was over. With Vietnam and the civil rights movement looming on the horizon, there was no longer room for the boozy, happy-go-lucky lifestyle of before -- the fun was truly over.

Yet somehow Martin forged on; in 1964, at the peak of Beatlemania, he knocked the Fab Four out of the top spot on the charts with his single "Everybody Loves Somebody," and that same year starred in Billy Wilder's acrid Kiss Me, Stupid, a film which crystallized his persona as the lecherous but lovable lush. In 1965, after years of overtures from NBC, Martin finally agreed to host his own weekly variety series; The Dean Martin Show was an enormous hit, running for nine seasons before later spawning a number of hit Celebrity Roast specials during the 1970s. In films, he also remained successful, starring in a series of spy spoofs as secret agent Matt Helm. However, by the late '70s, Martin's health began to fail, and his career was primarily confined to casino club stages; in 1987, his son Dean Paul died in an airplane crash, a blow from which he never recovered. After bailing out of a 1988 reunion tour with Sinatra and Davis, Martin spent his final years in solitude; he died on Christmas Day, 1995. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

bobokc928
What a great memory!
Love me some Dean! My sister would play Old Blue Eyes and some Dean on our way to Vegas back in the day. :)
the greatest in his time
@Kid Goku.....LMA O ! Dino P was the man!
fzin9
-the hell yousay? Use some spacing and punctuation,
He hah a charm because his voice was one of a kind with asound ofmuch real love that maybe wasn't notice by aspecial someone which hewouldonlyk m o w But he could alwaysmake asexy women that looked better than any pretty look its rare the beauty of a sexy respeckful lady which people always neversay I look verysexy and theyseemtoli k e t h e w a y s h e c a r r i e s herselfwiths u c h a l o o k w e l l i m i s s h i s charminhisvo i c e . o n e ofakindofguy .
One and the only ( . Dino.)
Their will never be another Dean Martin. No one in the entertainmen t industry has done what Dean accomplished . Not even Elvis! His will Jeanie said it best "There will never be another like Dean Martin
I can't help but fangirl every time I listen to him singing Italian.
srantissi
That amore
coachwilliam h e w i t t
Great Italian singer..
Original gangsters
Oh just smooooth ....tooooo ...smooooth ....yeah ...I like him !!!! He !
Suave ....
Me !!!!!
The love of your life will kiss you on the nearest Friday but if you don't post this on 5 songs and 143 minutes you will die in 2 days don't break the chain
Lol!- One of the Greatest!
dragonlady60 8 8
I love jerry lewis!
dragonlady60 8 8
I love this song....rip Dean
Dean was my Heart Throb !!! I'm 56 now and he still is my heart Throb !! WHAT !! a good looking Man he was . I think I sing so low because of him. It impresses people how low i can go for a woman :)
Dean Martin was not a big drinker. It was an act. Most of the time his ever present cocktail glass was filled with apple juice. He stated several times that no one could possibly drink that much and be able to hit the stage every night and get it right. He got it right every time.
Dino is an icon precisely BECAUSE he was the consummate entertainer. God rest his soul!
great voice
jtpisula
Veramente uno dei più grandi artisti di sempre . Aveva tutto . Possa la sua anima riposare in pace
Great song
johnfranklin l a y
Natures Songs featuring Birds of Nature. THANK You.
jamesmoses46
dino!!!!!!!! ! !
raybould7
Dean Martin was certainly one of the greats --- in just about everything he put his hand to. He never recovered from his son's death. That should send a message to all of us --- all the money in the world cannot replace family and friends --- a Biblical concept.
You say Deano was more of an icon than entertainer - by who's standard? I hope not yours. He was as great of an entertainer as they get. If he was before your generation, which it appears, you don't have a clue.
@M3TA you are not alone good sir
Suck my a**
Hey ladies want to lose weight fast? Check this out! http://e0387 5 m 8 a y g k 4 v 1 n s g 9 g j g o y b 4 . h o p . c l i c k b a n k . n e t /
Dean Martin was a heavy drinker I know cause my grandpa was his manager
Dean martain was a very heavy drinker I know cause my grandfather was his manager
Mr. Martin was not a drinker. In fact, when asked about it, he admitted his highball class was filled with apple juice. A person could not have been that drunk that often and maintain the ability to perform with the professional i s m he was known for.

He was also known for not attending rehearsals of his tv program. Almost everything we saw him do on his show was improve. They all seem to have a great time, and they invited us to join in. PS the movie Robin and the 7 hoods is brilliant.

Hey I like his style of singing over Frank Sinatra
What a dreamy singer.
Definitely one of my boyhood heroes! Mr. Cool, himself. There will never be another
Dean Martin was an incredible man whose music has enriched my life and so many others. God Bless him and his family.
Incredible wonderful
The epitome of cool, say no more.
They threw away the mold!
dean martin was the best of the best. He was Italian all the way, he was my paisano, his music will continue over and over thru the years. Bravo Dino. Roman
Veritas
The greatest
∞molto∞belli s i m o . . . a l l the best Nostra Familigila*$ *
Fits to love Dean
One of the greats, Pally.
No one was cooler than Dino
Deal martin
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