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Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis, Jr.

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
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Live And Swingin': The Ultimate Rat Pack Collection

Comments

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I am still living the legend. Cool is never out daddyo
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pd4170
Frank, Dean and Sammy at the Sands in Vegas in 1964. The epitome of cool. Too bad I was only seven at the time, don't think my folks would have let me go.
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I never knew JFKs code in the Rat Pack was "Chickey Baby,kinda fits.After his assassinatio n it's too bad this life style and music fell out of favor with young people,mysel f included.We as Americans started down a dark dangerous road and the world has never recovered.I' m glad I rediscovered the music my parents loved
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Legends! This music will never grow old. (:
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is soscary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
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I called this Vegas music
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)
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nicholas.ny7
The best music ever
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kludeke9
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is soscary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Report as inappropriate
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is soscary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Report as inappropriate
I walk around vegas these days, and remember what it was like back when I visited here when I was a kid. Call it nostalgia, but I remember sensing a bit of class, something vegas and the world seems to be lacking these days. The rat pack was bad boys with class.
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Classy classics.... t h e i r voices... their threads....t h e i r demeaner!
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Absolutely love these gents, amazing music and the chemistry between this trio is spectacular
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lynnbirli
Yes Alexis Timeless Frank Sinatra lives forever!
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Real voices and words & songs/ love love these classics-Tim e l e s s tunes xo
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@Gavin Cozart- I am so down for that! It's about time someone did! Music today sucks, it's not even music or singing anymore!
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Macpack746 I'm going to bring this music back.
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The good old days are gone... let em go
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godsgirlkj
I am 14 and so disappointed in my generation's taste in music. I'm so blessed that my grandma and mom shared their love of the black and white movie era and the "REAL" music not the stuff that plays these days. People back then had REAL class :)
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Only the best of the entire world.
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1. Kiss your left hand 2. Say your crush name 3. Close your hand 4. Say a school day 5. Say your name 6. Open your hand 7. Post this on 15 other songs and your crush will ask you out
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the best
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The great days of music.
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And it has set a pattern and style attracting both young and quite old in the whole wide world now and forever.
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And it has set a pattern and style attracting both young and quite old, starting now forever all over the whole wide world of music.
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Their kind of sound and music penetrated all levels of generation.. . a n d it will stay there forever.
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I'm trying to remember who first sang Write myself a letter but Dean is pretty late on the chain . Ink spots maybe? And maybe I'm thinking of Paper Doll.
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I am so glad that the time I lived was shared with these guys and I got to know and love them. And what special being they were.
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These 3 together Live in Vegas, can't be beat. More then music, purely entertaining . In the words of Dino himself...as the said while walking across the mirror...tha t ' s one way of looking at it...
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Great music
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Thanks to my brother-in law I learned to love these guys thanks Don
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someone says my dad loves these guys!!! mine did too many generations that's whats great
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jesse_nimeh
It just sounds like they're having the best time.
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myxoomemail
No comments in months and years? Classic Sinatra w/ the Rat Pack. Love it!!!
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lisa.espindo l a
LOVE HEARING THEM!!! Puts a smile on my face, remembering my mom and dad... :)
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my dad loved these guys....
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westwind.elf r i e d e
Truly music, melody, lyrics that one could understand, music to make you feel good and bring a little romance to your heart ! Never to be repeated, sadly.
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Age honestly doesn't matter.
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nyprincess19 7
I'm 16 and I would like to personally apologize for my generation's lack of taste in music. Luckily I broke away from the bandwagon and discovered REAL music. This is REAL music.
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Immortality is what each of them have, with no question, no debate, and certainly no contest as to the best of American music...just lucky to have lived during their life time...nobod y will really know how fabulous unless actually had been their in person, LIKE LUCKY ME
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The best in music!!!!!!!
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NEVER to be DUPLICATED
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amen AMEN
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dcbjob
What a life they led!!!!
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This is real music. Straight up talent... And no autotune!
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liquideuph
This was when music was real and entertaining .
Report as inappropriate
This Is My Favorite Song From The Rat Pack!<3
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823427963
Back in 1961 at age 21 I spent half a weeks pay to get a hat just like the one Frank used to wear. I felt 10 feet tall. Loved the rat packs music and antics.
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Frank was part of the Bogart Rat Pack they were close friends.
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Hey Chris i read in a biography that Frank was involved in the oringinal Rat Pack with Humphrey the final years before he died so i think that why the name was given to them by the media
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