Sports & Recreation
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BIG on samples and happy hour buffets, periodically declares he's giving up on cheese (might as well call him "anti-American" i know), LOVES his wife (remember, "wife" spelled backwards is "efiw"), is certain his son is destined to be known as "Enzo the Great," appreciates his "parents" more each day (in-laws included), still dislikes cats, greatest fear is mediocrity, has resigned himself to blatant self-promotion (hey! i amuse me), defies popularity by defining himself, and wants (would like) you to pay him lots (market-value) of money for his work.
....more on "Papa" Lorenzo
The Essential Guide to American Adult Pop-Culture
of the Age of Innocence, 1946-64
“Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”
Born in Steubenville, Ohio on June 7, 1917, Dino Crocetti, eventually came to be known as the great “Dino,” Dean Martin. Trying his hand at being a milkman, gas station attendant and a professional boxer, Dino eventually joined the ranks of others, like Nick the Greek, who were born and bred in Steubenville and made a life out of gambling. And so it was in the clandestine backroom of a cigar store that Dino learned and refined a trade, dealing cards, the skills for which he would apply to all the other deals he made throughout his life.
Always a singer amongst friends and family, Dino made his first public appearance at a summer resort in 1934. Encouraged to continue, Dino started making many more dancehall appearances and was eventually picked up by bandleader Ernie McKay from Columbus, Ohio and later moved over to the Sammy Watkins Orchestra in Cleveland. Almost a decade after that fateful hot summer dance at Craig Beach, Dino was offered to follow his future close friend’s gig (Frank Sinatra), to make his New York debut at the Riobamba nightclub in 1943.
Dean Martin's lucky break came in July of 1946 when he and Jerry Lewis were first billed together in Atlantic City. It was their coincidental meeting on stage in New York a few months earlier that first brought them together as one of the funniest comedy teams the stage has known. With Dean as the straight man and Jerry as the looney sidekick, or as what Lewis has referred to as the "handsome man and the monkey," their first successful night as a comedy act was a result of some subtle encouragement by club owner Paul “Skinny” D’Amato, who gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse; either improve your act 150 % or end up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. That evening, unprepared, and riding upon only their nascent talent, wits, and most of all, fear, they improvised by having Dean sing and Jerry bus tables, making sure to break dishes, eat the patron’s food, burn the orchestra’s sheet music and make mayhem which shot their reputation as the funniest comedy team around through the roof. After this initial night of serendipitous spontaneity, they began touring the nightclub circuit and eventually landed fame and fortune in pictures, Hollywood pictures that is. Their oddly paired, yet highly successful, partnership lasted for a decade until their last of seventeen films and twenty-five television episodes of the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1956.
Both went on to solo film careers, with Dino next appearing in Ten Thousand Bedrooms in 1957, which flopped at the box-office. Yet a year later Dino redeemed himself, by co-starring in The Young Lions with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift in 1958, followed by Some Came Running with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacClaine and Rio Bravo with John Wayne and Ricky Nelson. Dino went on to make a few other Westerns, a couple of musicals, two “Rat Pack” films, and generally ended his acting career in the late 1960s with the Matt Helm spy series, with occasional appearances in other films like Airport and Cannonball Run.
Dean's recording career began with Diamond Records, skipped over to the Apollo label, rolled over into Embassy and finally landed with a splash into Capitol in 1948 with Jerry at his side. For seven years thereafter Dean surprisingly had only one top ten hit in 1949, Powder Your Face with Sunshine (Smile, Smile, Smile), but in 1953 that all changed when he struck gold with That's Amore. By 1955 he had his first number one hit with Memories are Made of This.
Dino went on to record several hit records for Capitol including his first number one hit, Memories Are Made of This, which after its release in 1955, not only brought Martin his second gold record, but also brought him the prestigious Triple Crown Award, from Billboard Magazine, for being number one on the best-seller, radio play and jukebox lists simultaneously.
Mr. Martin had particularly great success with his Italian inspired songs, for which Nick Tonches, attributes the album Phil Brito sings Songs of Italy as being highly influential upon Dino. So much so, that many of his best known and popular songs were derivatives of tracks on that album, including Volare, Return to Me and That’s Amore. Dino eventually recorded an album for Capitol Records with the same theme in 1962, entitled Dino: Italian Love Songs.
Sinatra lured him away to record for his Reprise label in 1962? where he had another eleven top forty hits, 27 to-charted singles and an unprecedented seven gold albums over the next five years. The climatic end of his recording career came in 1964 when he knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts with Everybody Loves Somebody, giving him his nickname “Beatle-Breaker Martin.” Legend has it that he recorded and released the song to prove to his son that he was better than the Beatles.
Dean’s Golden Decade began in 1958 as a star simultaneously on stage, TV, film and records. Fore most noted in Martin’s professional career, was his status as the Don of Cool. His highly regarded calm, prepared and professional manner affected practically everyone he came in contact with. Unlike some of his peers, he consistently remained relaxed while at work and at play, seemingly mixing both to some people’s chagrin. According to Variety, by October 1961 Dino had become a living legend in Vegas.
“Look, I sing a song. If it’s a hit, beautiful. If it isn’t, we try again. Why make it complicated?”
~ Dean Martin, 1969