Playboy called him “the coolest man who ever lived.” Elvis Presley worshipped him, as we celebrate Dean Martin’s Birthday today.
Born Dino Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, on June 17th 1917 today would have been in his 98th birthday.
Early in his career, Dean Martin was known as a gritty hip-hop star. He delivered bootleg liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier and blackjack dealer, worked in a steel mill and briefly ruled the ring as boxing phenomenon Kid Crochet. Winning his share of bouts earned him little apart from a broken nose, but Dino’s speakeasy experience put him in contact with club owners, resulting in his first singing gigs.
With a fixed nose and a boost from his pals in the nightclub underworld, he became Dean Martin, styling himself after the top male vocalist of the time,
Martin released his first single, “Which Way Did My Heart Go?” and was first paired with comic Jerry Lewis. The two shared a bill at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, but the night they combined their acts into a combo of manic comedy and debonair music saw the birth of a phenomenon. They were the hottest ticket around and parlayed their onstage success into a string of hit movies and television appearances.
During Martin and Lewis’ decade-long partnership, Dean had such hits as “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” “Powder Your Face With Sunshine,” and “You Belong to Me,” among others, all for the Capitol label. Yet when their partnership dissolved, showbiz pundits predicted Lewis’ star would continue to rise and Martin’s would fizzle.
The singer confounded the skeptics. As a solo act he was wowing crowds in Vegas, impressing critics and audiences in a series of dramatic film roles, scoring on TV with Dean Martin Show specials for NBC, and hitting the charts again with “Return to Me” and “Volare.”
Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name, (DRESDEN Fanatic),is Dean Martin singing Volare.
Not soon after, Martin’s affiliation with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of the fabled Rat Pack supplanted his earlier rep. He fueled his image as a boozing playboy in onstage antics with his pals and ring-a-ding ensemble films like Ocean’s Eleven, yet Martin later claimed his cocktail-swilling persona was largely a pose.
Biographer Nick Tosches (Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams) described Martin as a person, “who does not give a f—.”
The term, in Dean Martin’s case, conveys not indifference but a refusal to be beaten down by the world and a determination to greet life with an easy smile, a graceful melody and an aura of unflappable cool.
If you’re not a Dean Martin fan but like some of his songs, in lieu of today’s story, I encourage to be cool as cucumber, like Dean Martin was in life.
Instead of wishing you were someone else, be proud of who you are. Because you’ll never realize who was looking at you, wishing they were you!
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell