Dean Martin was an Italian-American singer, actor, comedian, and film producer.
Let’s find out some fun facts about him!
1. Dino Paul Crocetti was born June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio.
2. He was born to an Italian father, Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti (1894–1967), and an Italian-American mother, Angela Crocetti (née Barra; 1899–1966).
3. They were married in 1914.
4. His father, who was a barber, was originally from Montesilvano, in Abruzzo, and his maternal grandparents’ origins are believed to be also from Abruzzo although it is not clearly known.
5 .Martin had an older brother named William Alfonso Crocetti (1916-1968). Martin’s first language was an Abruzzese dialect of Italian, and he did not speak English until he started school at the age of five.
6. He attended Grant Elementary School in Steubenville where he was bullied for his broken English. He later took up the drums as a hobby as a teenager.
7. Martin then dropped out of Steubenville High School in the 10th grade because he thought he was smarter than his teachers.
8. He bootlegged liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier, was a blackjack dealer, worked in a steel mill and boxed as a welterweight.
9. At 15 he was a boxer who billed himself as “Kid Crochet”. His prizefighting earned him a broken nose (later straightened), a scarred lip, many broken knuckles (a result of not being able to afford tape used to wrap boxers’ hands), and a bruised body. Of his 12 bouts, he said: “I won all but 11.”
10. For a time, he shared a New York City apartment with Sonny King, who, like Martin, was starting in show business and had little money.
11. It is said that Martin and King held bare-knuckle matches in their apartment, fighting until one was knocked out; people paid to watch. Martin knocked out King in the first round of an amateur boxing match.
12. Martin gave up boxing to work as a roulette stickman and croupier in an illegal casino behind a tobacco shop, where he had started as a stock boy.
13. At the same time he sang with local bands, calling himself “Dino Martini” (after the Metropolitan Opera tenor, Nino Martini).
14. He got his break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra. He sang in a crooning style influenced by Harry Mills (of the Mills Brothers), among others.
15. In the early 1940s, he started singing for bandleader Sammy Watkins, who suggested he change his name to Dean Martin.
16. In October 1941 Martin married Elizabeth “Betty” Anne McDonald. They had four children before the marriage ended in 1949.
17. Martin worked for various bands throughout the early 1940s, mostly on looks and personality until he developed his own singing style.
18. Martin flopped at the Riobamba, a nightclub in New York, when he followed Frank Sinatra in 1943, but it was the setting for their meeting. Martin was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 during World War II, serving a year in Akron, Ohio.
19. He was reclassified as 4-F and discharged, possibly because of a double hernia; Jerry Lewis referred to the surgery Martin needed for this in his autobiography).
20. By 1946, Martin was doing well, but he was little more than an East Coast nightclub singer with a common style, similar to that of Bing Crosby.
21. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed the “King of Cool” for his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assurance.
22. He and Jerry Lewis were partners as the immensely popular comedy team Martin and Lewis, and afterwards he was a member of the “Rat Pack”, and a star in concert stages, nightclubs, recordings, motion pictures, and television.
23. He was the host of the television variety program The Dean Martin Show (1965–1974) and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1974–1984).
24. Martin’s relaxed, warbling crooning voice earned him dozens of hit singles, including his signature songs “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” “Sway,” “Volare,” and “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?”
25. Martin was married three times.
26. With his first wife, Elizabeth Anne “Betty” McDonald (died 1989), whom he married in 1941, he had four children: Craig Martin (born 1942); Claudia Martin (born March 16, 1944, died 2001 of breast cancer); Gail Martin (born 1945); and Deana Martin (born 1948).
27. Following Martin’s divorce from Betty, in 1949, he gained custody of their children, and she lived out her life in quiet obscurity in San Francisco.
28. Martin’s second wife was Jeanne Biegger (died August 24, 2016), a former Orange Bowl queen from Coral Gables, Florida.
29. Their marriage lasted 24 years (1949–1973) and produced three children: Dean Paul Martin (November 17, 1951 – March 21, 1987, jet-fighter crash), Ricci Martin (September 20, 1953 – August 3, 2016) and Gina Martin (born 1956).
30. Her marriage made Martin the father-in-law of the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson.
31. Figure skater Dorothy Hamill and actress Olivia Hussey were his daughters-in-law during their marriages to Dean Paul Martin. Martin’s third marriage, to Catherine Hawn, lasted three years.
32. Martin initiated the divorce proceedings. Martin adopted Hawn’s daughter, Sasha. Martin’s uncle was Leonard Barr, who appeared in several of his shows.
33. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he lived at 363 Copa De Oro Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles, before selling it to Tom Jones for $500,000 in June 1976.
34. Martin, a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in September 1993, and was told that he would require surgery to prolong his life, but he rejected it.
35. He retired from public life in early 1995 and died of acute respiratory failure resulting from emphysema at his Beverly Hills home on Christmas Day, 1995 at the age of 78. The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor.
36. Martin’s body was interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. The crypt features the epitaph “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”, the title of his signature song.