Dean Martin life and biography

Dean Martin picture, image, poster

Dean Martin biography

Date of birth : 1917-06-07
Date of death : 1995-12-25
Birthplace : Steubenville, Ohio
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-11-26
Credited as : Country music vocalist, film actor and comedian,

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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.


1946 Film Vodvil: Art Mooney and Orchestra
1949 My Friend Irma
1950 My Friend Irma Goes West
At War with the Army
Screen Snapshots: Thirtieth Anniversary Special
1951 That's My Boy
1952 Sailor Beware
Jumping Jacks
Road to Bali
The Stooge
1953 Scared Stiff
The Caddy
Money from Home
1954 Living It Up
3 Ring Circus
1955 You're Never Too Young
Artists and Models
1956 Screen Snapshots: Hollywood, City of Stars
Hollywood or Bust
1957 Ten Thousand Bedrooms
1958 The Young Lions
Some Came Running
1959 Rio Bravo
1960 Who Was That Lady?
Bells Are Ringing
Ocean's Eleven
1961 All in a Night's Work
1962 Something's Got to Give
Sergeants 3
The Road to Hong Kong
Who's Got the Action?
1963 38-24-36
Come Blow Your Horn
Toys in the Attic
4 for Texas
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?
1964 What a Way to Go!
Robin and the 7 Hoods
Kiss Me, Stupid
1965 The Sons of Katie Elder
Marriage on the Rocks
1966 The Silencers
Texas Across the River
Murderers' Row
1967 Rough Night in Jericho
The Ambushers
1968 How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life
Rowan & Martin at the Movies
5 Card Stud
1969 The Wrecking Crew
1970 Airport
1971 Something Big
1973 Showdown
1975 Mr. Ricco
1981 The Cannonball Run
1984 Cannonball Run II
Terror in the Aisles

1948 "That Certain Party"(with Jerry Lewis)
1949 "Powder Your Face With Sunshine (Smile, Smile, Smile)"
1950 "I'll Always Love You"
1951 "If"
1952 "You Belong To Me"
1953 "Love Me, Love Me"
"That's Amore"
1954 "I'd Cry Like a Baby"
"Money Burns a Hole In My Pocket"
"How Do You Speak To An Angel"
1955 "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane"
"Mambo Italiano"
"Let Me Go Lover"
"Under the Bridges of Paris"
"Memories Are Made of This"
1956 "Young and Foolish"
"Standing on the Corner"
"Watching the World Go By"
1957 "The Man Who Plays the Mandolino"
1958 "Return To Me"
"Angel Baby"
1959 "On an Evening In Roma"
1960 "Love Me, My Love"
1962 "From the Bottom of My Heart"
"Sam's Song"(with Sammy Davis Jr.)
1963 "Face In a Crowd"
1964 "Everybody Loves Somebody"
"The Door Is Still Open To My Heart"
"Every Minute Every Hour"
"You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You"
"You'll Always Be the One I Love"
1965 "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On"
"(Remember Me) I'm the One Who Loves You"
"I Will"
1966 "Somewhere There's a Someone"
"Come Running Back"
"A Million and One"
"Nobody's Baby Again"
"(Open Up the Door) Let the Good Times In"
1967 "Lay Some Happiness On Me"
"In the Chapel In the Moonlight"
"Little Ole Winedrinker, Me"
"In the Misty Moonlight"
1968 "You've Still Got a Place In My Heart"
"That Old Time Feelin'"
"April Again"
"Five Card Stud"
"Not Enough Indians"
1969 "Gentle On My Mind"
"I Take a Lot of Pride In What I Am"
"One Cup of Happiness (And One Piece of Mind)"
1970 "For the Love of a Woman"
"My Woman My Woman My Wife"
"Detroit City"
1971 "Georgia Sunshine"
"She's a Little Bit Country"
1974 "Get On With Your Livin'"
1983 "My First Country Song"(with Conway Twitty)

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