Deana Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, sings her dad’s praises

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Deana Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, sings her dad’s praises

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by tommyj

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Dean Martin with daughter Deana at a recording session in August 1966.

Dean Martin with daughter Deana at a recording session in August 1966. / Ed Thrasher/Photo courtesy of Deana Martin


No, Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, didn’t have a firehouse pole in the middle of her living room when she was growing up. The pole was only a prop her dad would famously use on the set of the top-rated “The Dean Martin Show” in the ’60s and ’70s.

“It was crazy, and it was cute, and it was another Dean Martin moment,” said Martin, who will appear Saturday, March 29, at the State Theatre in New Brunswick in a program called “Deana Sings Dino.” The show will feature Deana’s singing and clips of her dad. “It was a quick way for him to get from upstairs to downstairs to what was his living room.”

“It was one of the scariest things I ever did in my life, but it was worth it,” Martin said.

Deana Martin is carrying on the memory of her famous father through concerts and legacy-building. She wrote “Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes” in 2004 and has released several albums featuring her dad’s — and her own — music.

“We found an original hand-written Nelson Riddle arrangement, and we went into the studio with the best musicians alive and re-recorded all of it,” Martin said. “Then we put my dad’s voice in, and then I sing with him, and it’s the most incredible feeling. When we were recording, I was holding the same chart my dad had. It was emotional, it was overwhelming, it was beautiful, and I know he was with me.”

Dean Martin, called the King of Cool by Elvis Presley, was born Dino Crocetti on June 7, 1917, in Steubenville, Ohio. English was his second language (Italian was his first), and he earned a few extra dollars boxing as a teenager. He took up singing with moderate success, but when he teamed with Jerry Lewis, a Newark native, as a comedy duo at the 500 Club in Atlantic City in 1946, his star skyrocketed.

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Yet just as quickly as Martin and Lewis, who wrote the foreword to Deana Martin’s book, became the biggest act in Hollywood, the two split acrimoniously in ’56.

From there, Martin’s career seemed a bit wobbly, but the hit movie “The Young Lions” made him box office gold as a solo. Songs like “Memories Are Made of This,” “Return to Me:” and “Volare” in the late ’50s confirmed his hitmaking prowess.

The ’60s brought Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack in Las Vegas, “The Dean Martin Show” on TV, the Matt Helm movies, more hit singles like “Everybody Loves Somebody” and the confirmation of Martin as the epitome of 20th-century cool.

“He was classic. He was one of a kind,” Martin said. “He looked gorgeous, and he was so funny, so sweet. People adored him, men wanted to be like him, and women wanted to be with him.

“He made you feel comfortable.”

Yours, mine and ours

Deana Martin is the fourth and youngest child — born 1948 — of Dean Martin and Betty McDonald. Martin married his second wife, Jeanne Biegger, a year after Deana Martin was born. They had three kids. The four kids from Martin’s first marriage eventually lived with the kids from Martin’s second marriage.

The public Dean Martin was not like the private Dean Martin.

“He liked his peace and quiet,” said Martin, who lives with her husband, John Griffeth, in Branson, Mo. “When he was out there, entertaining, he was always on. Even going to dinner, going anywhere, everybody wants to come over to him and talk to him and ask him questions and touch him.

“Finally, when you get to be home, and be alone and quiet, you want to be alone. You don’t want anybody talking to you. You don’t want to have to smile.”

The glad-handed boozer of Martin’s act was just that — an act — although he was a smoker.

“I know from myself personally, I go out there and do a show for an hour and half, and I give it my all. And I go out there and sign autographs and CDs and talk to people, and they’re hugging me, and they want to take pictures of me, and it’s like another show for another hour and a half. After that I want to go home. I want to have a little something to eat, quiet, and not talk to anybody.

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“When I was young girl, Dad would come home. He wanted to watch a Western or study what he had to do for the next day. I understand so much more today why he needed to be alone or quiet.”

A devastating loss

The death of his son Dean Paul Martin in 1987 in a plane crash was a debilitating blow to the entertainer. Yet, reports that Martin was alone and lonely at the end of his life — he died of emphysema at the age of 78 in 1995 — are false, Martin said.

“He wasn’t lonely — he was out with everybody. He just didn’t want to talk to anybody,” Martin said. “One of his lines was, “I don’t like to chit-chat. I don’t mind the chit, it’s the chat.’ … If you understand how much of his life he was on, you had to be there, and heaven forbid if he was rude to someone or if he not wanted to talk, then they would say terrible things about him. He was always kind and sweet to everybody.”

Like the time the paparazzi and autograph seekers surrounded the elder Martin and daughter after they went out to dinner at Chasen’s in Los Angeles.

“They were having him sign a stack of 8-by-10s, and I’m going: ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t right.’ I knew they were going to sell them,” she said. “His mind wouldn’t think that way, that people are trying to make money off of him. He said: ‘I signed up for this. It’s part of the deal.’ ”

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