No, Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, didnt 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 Deanas 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 Daughters Eyes in 2004 and has released several albums featuring her dads 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 dads voice in, and then I sing with him, and its 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.
Yet just as quickly as Martin and Lewis, who wrote the foreword to Deana Martins book, became the biggest act in Hollywood, the two split acrimoniously in 56.
From there, Martins 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 Martins first marriage eventually lived with the kids from Martins 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 dont want anybody talking to you. You dont want to have to smile.
The glad-handed boozer of Martins 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 theyre hugging me, and they want to take pictures of me, and its 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.
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 wasnt lonely he was out with everybody. He just didnt want to talk to anybody, Martin said. One of his lines was, I dont like to chit-chat. I dont mind the chit, its 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 Chasens in Los Angeles.
They were having him sign a stack of 8-by-10s, and Im going: Wait a minute. This isnt right. I knew they were going to sell them, she said. His mind wouldnt think that way, that people are trying to make money off of him. He said: I signed up for this. Its part of the deal.
Chris Jordan 732-643-4060; firstname.lastname@example.org