Happy Birthday Dean Martin: Remembering the Legendary Performer

by Keeli Parkey
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Dean Martin – the iconic comedian, singer, performer, member of the Rat Pack, and “The King of Cool” – was born on this day (June 7) in 1917.

Dean Martin was not this famous entertainer’s name when he was born. His birth name was Dino Paul Crocetti, according to IMDb.com. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio. His father was an Italian immigrant named Gaetano Alfonso “Guy” Crocetti who worked as a barber. His mother was an Ohio native named Angela Barra.

Until he was five years old, the future Dean Martin only spoke Italian. His childhood and teen years were difficult. And, according to his website, he worked many jobs that weren’t of the most respected nature. He worked in a speakeasy as a blackjack dealer. He also delivered bootleg liquor and worked in a steel mill.

Martin did earn a small level of fame in the boxing ring. He fought under the name “Kid Crochet.” Even though he won fights, boxing did not bring him much money. But, it did bring him a broken nose. Turns out that his work in the speakeasy helped out his career. Because he met club owners, he was able to begin singing in public.

Dean Martin Got A Big Break During The 1940s

Dean Martin’s career began to take off in 1946 when he joined forces with comedian Jerry Lewis. Together they created the funny and popular comedy duo of Martin & Lewis. The partnership really took off thanks to the 1950 movie “At War with the Army.”

Martin & Lewis worked together for 11 years. During that time they starred in 16 movies. However, the partnership came to an end. But by that time, Martin was a star.

Now flying solo, Martin’s career kept soaring. In 1958, he starred in two films – “The Young Lions” and “Some Came Running.” Next came “Rio Bravo” in 1959 and “Ocean’s 11” in 1960. It was in “Ocean’s 11” where “The King of Cool” acted alongside members of the Rat Pack. These included Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

In the mid-1960s, Dean Martin turned his attention toward television. It was during 1965 that “The Dean Martin Show” premiered. It remained on the air until 1973. The following year, the name of the show changed to “The Dean Martin Comedy Hour,” and stayed on the air until 1984. The show then became the wildly popular “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.” This program brought laughs to viewers by having celebrities poke fun at other celebrities.

In addition to his film roles and television shows, Dean Martin was also a very popular singer. Some of his hit songs included “Return to Me,” “Volare,” “Memories are Made of This,” and “Everybody Loves Somebody.”

Dean Martin passed away on Dec. 25, 1995, due to lung cancer. He was 78 years old.

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