Dino Paul Crocetti a.k.a. Dean Martin
Born 7th June 1917 – Died 25th December 1995
Nicknamed the “King of Cool”, he was one of the members of the famous “Rat Pack2 along with Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. Our king of cool was known to love a good Gin.
Born in Steubenville Ohio to Italian parents, Gaetano and Angela Crocetti, he was the younger brother of Bill.
He only spoke Italian until he started school, which he left in the 10th grade due to ridicule because of his broken English and the fact that he considered he was smarter than his teachers
He delivered bootleg liquor, served as a croupier in a speakeasy, dealt blackjack and worked in a steel mill.
By the age of fifteen he was a welterweight boxer who billed himself as “Kid Crochet”, fighting twelve bouts, which he, in his own words, “Won all but eleven.”
For a time, he shared an apartment with Sonny King. Legend has it that people would go to their apartment where they would pay to watch Dean and Sonny fight, bare knuckled, until one of them was knocked out.
Eventually, Dino gave up boxing, his broken nose would later be straightened, and worked in an illegal casino as well as singing for local bands, naming himself Dino Martini after the then famous tenor, Nino Martini, getting his first break working with the Ernie McKay Orchestra. In the 1940s he started singing for bandleader Sammy Watkins who suggested he change his name to Dean Martin.
In 1941 he married his first wife, Elizabeth Anne McDonald with whom he had four children, although it ended in divorce in 1949.
During the early 1940s, he worked for several bands while still developing his own style, famously flopping in the high class Riobamba night club in New York where he followed Frank Sinatra, but, it was the setting for their first meeting.
As is the case with Frank Sinatra, Dean, supposedly had mafia connections, but none have ever been substantiated.
July 24th 1946 saw Dean and comedian Jerry Lewis team up as a comedy / variety duo which blossomed into a lucrative film career earning them both millions of dollars but which unfortunately ended in acrimony exactly ten years later. They were reconciled when Frank Sinatra brought Dean out on stage during an appearance by Lewis in a telethon on Labour Day in 1976.
By 1976 Dean had developed his public persona as a laid back carefree boozer, even the license plates on his car were, “ DRUNKY “, although was in truth remarkably self-disciplined and like nothing better than to go home to his second wife, Jeanne Biegger and their three children.
During his career he recorded over one hundred albums and six hundred songs although he could not read music.