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The Life And Legacy Of Dean Martin

In the annals of entertainment history, few names evoke as much admiration and nostalgia as that of Dean Martin. He emerged from humble beginnings to become a multifaceted force in the world of show business. Revered for his suave persona, velvety voice, and effortless charm, Dean Martin earned the moniker "King of Cool," leaving an indelible mark on music, film, and television.

Author:Iram Martins
Reviewer:Elisa Mueller
Jan 09, 2024
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In the annals of entertainment history, few names evoke as much admiration and nostalgia as that of Dean Martin. He emerged from humble beginnings to become a multifaceted force in the world of show business. Revered for his suave persona, velvety voice, and effortless charm, Dean Martin earned the moniker "King of Cool," leaving an indelible mark on music, film, and television.
This article delves into the life and legacy of the legendary entertainer, exploring the milestones of his career, from the early days of crooning to the glitzy heights of Las Vegas and the enduring allure of the Rat Pack. Join us on a journey through the life of a charismatic artist who continues to enchant audiences worldwide even decades after his passing.

Quick Facts About Dean Martin

Date Of BirthJun 7, 1917 - Dec 25, 1995 (78 years old)
Place Of BirthSteubenville
ProfessionSinger, Comedian, Actor, Professional Boxer, Musician, Songwriter, Film Producer, Presenter, Radio personality, Businessperson
NationalityUnited States of America

Early Life Of Dean Martin

On June 7, 1917, Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio, and became Dean Martin. Both his mother and father were of Italian heritage, and his father worked as a barber. He was raised speaking Italian, and when he enrolled at Grant Elementary School in Steubenville at the age of five, he started learning English. He became a target of bullying because of his poor English.
He began playing the drums as a youngster, and in his sophomore year at Steubenville High School, he left because he thought he was brighter than his professors. He had a variety of odd occupations after dropping out of school, such as welterweight boxer, blackjack dealer, bootlegger, steel factory, and speakeasy.
He was boxing as Kid Crochet when he was fifteen years old. He relocated to New York City at this time, sharing an apartment with Sonny King, who was attempting to launch a career in show business. Both were quite poor, and they charged others to see them fight back and forth in their flat.
After Martin was hired as a stickman for roulette in an illegal casino, he gave up boxing and started singing with local bands under the moniker "Dino Martini." When he joined the Ernie McKay Orchestra, he received his big break. By 1940, he was singing with the Sammy Watkins Orchestra. Martin followed Watkins' guidance and changed his name to Dean Martin; he stayed with the organization until May 1943. He departed that autumn of that year to start doing performances in New York.

Musical Career

Dean Martin wearing a black suit
Dean Martin wearing a black suit
Martin starred in "Ten Thousand Bedrooms," his first movie without Lewis, which was a box office failure. This occurred in 1957. The next year, he starred in the critically acclaimed military drama "The Young Lions," costarring with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. In the drama picture "Some Came Running," which was nominated for many Academy Awards, he costarred with Frank Sinatra in 1958.
He was attempting to establish himself as a dramatic actor at this period, and he was very successful in that endeavor. His filmography by the middle of the 1960s included "Artists and Models," "Robing and the 7 Hoods," "Ada," and "Oceans 11." His singing career took off, and in 1965 he was given his own variety television program.
From 1965 until 1974, "The Dean Martin Show" aired, and in 1966, it won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. The Rat Pack, which included him, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, was more of a moniker for a group of pals who regularly collaborated on movies and stage shows. They were well renowned for their Las Vegas performances. In 1964, Lawford was replaced by Humphrey Bogart. After a split in the 1970s, Sinatra, Davis, and Martin got back together in 1987 for a twenty-nine-show comedy tour.

Dean Martin Albums

Dean Martin smiling
Dean Martin smiling
Dean Martin, the legendary crooner, released numerous albums throughout his prolific career. Here are some of his notable albums:
  • "Dean Martin Sings" (1953)
  • "Swingin' Down Yonder" (1955)
  • "Pretty Baby" (1957)
  • "Sleep Warm" (1959)
  • "A Winter Romance" (1959)
  • "This Time I'm Swingin'!" (1961)
  • "Dino: Italian Love Songs" (1962)
  • "Cha Cha de Amor" (1962)
  • "Dino Latino" (1962)
  • "Dean 'Tex' Martin Rides Again" (1963)
  • "French Style" (1962)
  • "Dean Martin Hits Again" (1965)
  • "Houston" (1965)
  • "The Dean Martin TV Show" (1966)
  • "Happiness Is Dean Martin" (1967)
  • "The Dean Martin Christmas Album" (1966)
  • "Welcome to My World" (1967)
  • "Gentle on My Mind" (1969)
  • "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife" (1970)
  • "Dino" (1972)
  • "Sittin' on Top of the World" (1973)
  • "Once in a While" (1978)

Martin & Lewis

Martin and Lewis
Martin and Lewis
Martin first got to know comic Jerry Lewis at the Glass Hat Club in 1945. When the planned vocalist failed to show up for their first performance in Atlantic City a year later, Lewis proposed Martin as a stand-in. When the two initially started performing together, the crowd did not give them great evaluations, and the owner threatened to sever their contract unless they made improvements.
Although they had been utilizing pre-written material, they began to improvise, with Lewis acting foolishly and Martin singing. Their vaudeville humor and playful slapstick routines made them even more popular with audiences. Their career in Atlantic City opened doors for them, including a stint at the Copacabana Club in New York. Despite being well-known and performing often at clubs around the East Coast, the pair were still not well-known.
They became well-known in 1949 after starring in the musical comedy "My Friend Irma." Executives from NBC saw their performance and contacted the two about appearing on a comic radio program. The show's preproduction cost around $400,000, and NBC Radio Network gave them a five-year deal with a salary of $150,000. The preproduction costs for the network amounted to the current value of $4.4 million, while the salaries of Martin and Lewis would be comparable to $1.6 million.
Even with NBC's support for the program, the humor of the duo was mostly focused on visuals, and it was not as successful on radio. Nevertheless, Chesterfield Cigarettes and the pharmaceutical business Anacin generously sponsored them. The two first debuted on television in 1950 on "The Colgate Comedy Hour," and between 1949 and 1956, they starred in sixteen movies together. Their divergent agendas and creative differences caused them to split up in 1956.

Dean Martin Awards

Martin & Lewis giving a speech
Martin & Lewis giving a speech
Dean Martin, renowned as the "King of Cool" for his charismatic performances, received several awards and recognitions throughout his illustrious career.
  • Golden Globe Awards - Dean Martin clinched three Golden Globe Awards during his career. In 1966, he received the award for "Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy" for his work on "The Dean Martin Show." He won the same category in 1967 and 1969.
  • Grammy Awards - In 1966, Dean Martin was honored with a Grammy Award for his hit single "Everybody Loves Somebody" in the category of "Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male."
  • Primetime Emmy Awards - "The Dean Martin Comedy Hour" secured two Primetime Emmy Awards in the category of "Outstanding Variety Series" in 1967 and 1968.
  • American Comedy Awards - In 1988, Dean Martin received the American Comedy Awards' "Lifetime Achievement Award."
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame - Dean Martin was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, and Recording. These were dedicated to him on February 8, 1960.
  • Posthumous Honors - After his passing in 1995, Dean Martin continued to receive posthumous recognition for his enduring impact on the entertainment industry. Tributes, honorary mentions, and acknowledgment of his cultural contributions emphasize his lasting legacy.

Personal Life And Death

Martin was first married to Elizabeth Anne McDonald in 1941. The couple separated in 1949, having had four children together. Later in 1949, he married Dorothy Jean Biegger; the two had three children before divorcing in 1973. His last marriage, which lasted three years and produced no further children, was to Catherine Hawn.
After a lifetime of heavy smoking, Martin was given a lung cancer diagnosis in September 1993. He was offered the chance to have a life-extending procedure, but he declined. He ceased making public appearances in early 1995, and on Christmas Day of that same year, he passed away from respiratory failure. Ohio Route 7, which goes past his birthplace, was renamed Dean Martin Boulevard in his honor in 1997.

Dean Martin's Net Worth

When he passed away in 1995, singer-actor-comedian Dean Martin was thought to be worth $30 million. Martin had a successful career in entertainment, having won several awards, including the Grammy and the Golden Globe.
His most well-known roles were as host of the humorous variety program "The Dean Martin Show" and as a member of "The Rat Pack," which included Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Real Estate Properties

Dean spent $120,000 on a Beverly Hills home in the 1970s. He increased the house's size gradually to 12,000 square feet. The house sold for $1.35 million in 1995, three years after he passed away.
The house sold for $2 million in 2003. Eventually, a buyer demolished Dean's house and replaced it with an opulent contemporary estate. In recent years, the owner has made an effort to sell the house for $28 million. In Palm Springs, Dean also had a mid-century modern house. This property was sold by his estate in 1996 for $205,000.

Dean Martin Legacy

Dean Martin on the stage
Dean Martin on the stage
Dean Martin's legacy stands as a testament to the enduring impact of an artist who seamlessly blended charisma, talent, and charm across the realms of music, film, and television.
  • The Voice of a Generation - Dean Martin's smooth baritone voice is his most enduring legacy. His interpretation of timeless classics like "That's Amore," "Volare," and "Everybody Loves Somebody" remains iconic, influencing generations of singers and leaving an indelible mark on the Great American Songbook.
  • Rat Pack and Las Vegas Glamour - As a key member of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and others, Martin became synonymous with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas entertainment. The Rat Pack's performances and camaraderie symbolized an era of sophistication, coolness, and timeless style.
  • Versatile Entertainer - Martin's versatility as an entertainer contributed to his enduring popularity. From his comedic partnership with Jerry Lewis to his acclaimed film roles, such as in "Ocean's 11" and "Rio Bravo," he showcased a range that endeared him to diverse audiences.
  • Television Triumphs - "The Dean Martin Show" highlighted his affable personality and wit. The variety show, which ran from 1965 to 1974, showcased Martin's ability to engage with audiences through humor, music, and celebrity banter, earning him critical acclaim and a lasting television legacy.
  • Icon of Cool - Dean Martin earned the moniker "King of Cool" not just for his suave demeanor but for embodying a laid-back, effortless style that resonated with fans. His relaxed approach to entertainment set a standard for coolness that few have matched.
  • Cultural Impact - Martin's influence extends beyond entertainment into broader popular culture. His songs have been featured in countless films, TV shows, and commercials. His timeless appeal and image continue to inspire fashion, style, and an aspirational sense of coolness.
  • Enduring Popularity - Decades after his passing in 1995, Dean Martin's popularity remains intact. His music continues to find new audiences, and retrospectives on his life and career continue to draw attention, solidifying his status as a cultural icon.

Interesting Facts About Dean Martin

  • Dean Martin initially pursued a career as a professional boxer before discovering his true calling in the world of entertainment.
  • His iconic nickname, the "King of Cool," was bestowed upon him for his laid-back demeanor and effortless charm.
  • Dean Martin formed a legendary comedy duo with Jerry Lewis, and together, they became one of the most successful partnerships in show business during the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Despite his Italian-American heritage, Martin didn't speak Italian fluently, and he reportedly once said, "I speak better Yiddish than I do Italian."
  • Martin's signature song, "Everybody Loves Somebody," knocked The Beatles off the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.
  • He was a key member of the Rat Pack, a group of entertainers that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
  • Dean Martin had a successful film career, starring in classics like "Ocean's 11," "Rio Bravo," and "The Young Lions."
  • Martin was known for his love of golf and was a regular participant in celebrity golf tournaments.
  • Despite being a heavy smoker, Martin lived to be 78 years old before passing away on December 25, 1995, at his Beverly Hills home.
  • In addition to his musical and acting talents, Dean Martin was an accomplished television host, headlining "The Dean Martin Show" from 1965 to 1974.
  • He hosted the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" series, where he humorously ribbed and roasted his fellow celebrities in front of a live audience.
  • Martin was a successful businessman and investor, with interests in real estate, aviation, and the ownership of thoroughbred racehorses.
  • Dean Martin was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2009 for his contributions to the entertainment industry.
  • Martin's daughter, Deana Martin, followed in her father's footsteps as a singer and performer, carrying on the family's musical legacy.

Dean Martin - FAQs

How Did Dean Martin Rise To Fame?

Dean Martin initially gained fame as one half of the comedy duo "Martin and Lewis" with Jerry Lewis during the 1940s and 1950s. He later went on to achieve solo success as a singer, actor, and television host.

What Are Some Of Dean Martin's Most Famous Songs?

Dean Martin's most famous songs include "That's Amore," "Volare," "Everybody Loves Somebody," "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," and "Memories Are Made of This."

Was Dean Martin A Part Of The Rat Pack?

Yes, Dean Martin was a key member of the Rat Pack, a group of entertainers that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The Rat Pack was known for its performances in Las Vegas and its influence on American entertainment.

Conclusion

Dean Martin's journey from a small town in Ohio to international stardom is a testament to his unparalleled talent and enduring appeal. Whether crooning classic tunes, delivering memorable performances on the silver screen, or charming audiences on television, Martin's legacy continues to captivate and inspire. The "King of Cool" will forever be remembered as a true icon whose contributions to entertainment will resonate for generations to come.
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Iram Martins

Iram Martins

Author
Iram Martins is a seasoned travel writer and explorer with over a decade of experience in uncovering the world's hidden gems. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Management from the University of Lisbon, Iram's credentials highlight his authority in the realm of travel. As an author of numerous travel guides and articles for top travel publications, his writing is celebrated for its vivid descriptions and practical insights. Iram’s passion for cultural immersion and off-the-beaten-path adventures shines through in his work, captivating readers and inspiring wanderlust. Outside of his writing pursuits, Iram enjoys learning new languages, reviewing films and TV shows, writing about celebrity lifestyles, and attending cultural festivals.
Elisa Mueller

Elisa Mueller

Reviewer
Elisa Mueller, a Kansas City native, grew up surrounded by the wonders of books and movies, inspired by her parents' passion for education and film. She earned bachelor's degrees in English and Journalism from the University of Kansas before moving to New York City, where she spent a decade at Entertainment Weekly, visiting film sets worldwide. With over 8 years in the entertainment industry, Elisa is a seasoned journalist and media analyst, holding a degree in Journalism from NYU. Her insightful critiques have been featured in prestigious publications, cementing her reputation for accuracy and depth. Outside of work, she enjoys attending film festivals, painting, writing fiction, and studying numerology.
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