Dean Martin, The King of Cool, was born Dino Crocetti, the son of an Italian immigrant barber in Ohio, the great star of the big screen, TV, comedy and the music clubs of Las Vegas. He had boundless charisma, oozed sex appeal, always extremely self assured, and was a top talent. He was the man. He also was as famous for his views on drinking as he was for his singing, dated a Miss World and was one of the members of the infamous Rat Pack.
The legendary crooner belted out such classic tunes as “that’s Amore”, “Everybody loved somebody”, “Volare”, amongst many other top hits. Martin’s relaxed easy going style was endearing and extremely popular. You just could not like Dean Martin.
Leaving school at a young age, he started delivering bootleg liquor, was a croupier in a speakeasy during the time of prohibition, worked in a steel mill, and became a boxer at the age of 15.
Along the way he started to sing with local bands, and got work with the Ernie McKay Orchestra.
Teaming up with comic Jerry Lewis got him his big break. After a rocky start they both eventually honed their skills into a well received comedy/music act duo. This success led to a series of well-paying engagements. The act consisted of Lewis interrupting and heckling Martin while he was trying to sing. They eventually made it onto American TV screens with movies to follow. This made both of them extremely wealthy but they eventually fell out and Dean Martin went it alone, and for a long time ruled the Strip for decades with his swinging nightclub act.
As Martin’s solo career grew, he and Frank Sinatra became friends. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Martin and Sinatra, along with friends Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr. formed the Rat Pack. The men made films together, formed part of the Hollywood social scene, and were politically influential, on friendly terms with the great JFK. Their shows were legendary, lot of singing, improvisations and boozing. The Rat Pack epitomised coolness. Ocean 11, or whatever you call that nonsense, is a pale shadow on these legends, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, you kidding me!
In 1965, Martin launched a new TV show, The Dean Martin Show, in the 70’s. Martin played up his notorious image as a half-drunk crooner, that liked hitting on women, and making off the cuff slurred remarks about fellow celebrities. The TV show was a huge success and was often a ratings winner.
A few of his funnies –
In 1967 Dean Martin got to share his hamburger recipe in The Celebrity Cookbook. The recipe was
• 1 pound hamburger’
• 2 oz. bourbon in a chilled glass
Preheat a heavy frying pan and sprinkle bottom lightly with salt. Mix meat handling lightly, just enough to form into four patties. Grill over medium-high heat about four minutes on each side. Pour chilled bourbon in a chilled shot glass and serve meat and bourbon on a TV Tray.
Frank Sinatra later made his own version. This was his way to make a hamburger.
1. Call for Deano.
2. Tell him to make you a fuckin’ burger.
3. Drink his bourbon.
‘You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.’
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” (also attributed to J Lemmon and F Sinatra)
“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt”
His license plate was “DRUNKY”
Unfortunately Dean Martin died of acute respiratory failure at his Beverly Hills home on Christmas morning 1995, at age 78. The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honour, and he is buried in Los Angeles.
We salute you Dean Martin, smooth and straight.