(Two long boring paragraphs about my father and his buddies deleted)
Anyway, these guys wanted to BE the Rat Pack in the strongest way possible. Looking back it seems so obvious these fairly accomplished men (except the golf hustler) were doing everything possible to live up to the lives of their heroes. Dean Martin was in everyone’s living room once a week—but I knew a dozen or more just like him and they were around constantly.
Most of those guys are no longer with us, but I have been learning that Martin had some higher profile admirers. Frank Sinatra is well documented as admiring Dino’s aloof demeanor and rich (if not well trained) voice. Elvis Pressley was known to be an admirer of Dino also and apparently said on more than one occasion: “I may be the king of rock and roll, but Dino is the king of cool". Jerry Lewis can be heard going on and on about his love for the man. It seems that more than my father and his little pack of friends admired and emulated the man. I suspect everyone who ever met him remembered it fondly.
So which is the best tribute to Dino Crocetti (aka Dean Martin)?
This was the first Martin and Lewis movie where jerry had to play both roles:
After hearing this song a thousand times I recently saw this video and couldn’t help thinking the actor was playing “the Dean Martin” role. Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation (Album Master) - YouTube (I am pretty sure this is what it was like at Martin’s house day in and day out)
And I can’t find a clip of it, but Sinatra won some award and Bono of U2 presented it. At that time Dean Martin had been dead for quite some time, but once the applause died down Sinatra said something to the effect that he finally got more applause for something than Dean had.
Here is one clip just to remind you who I have been talking about: - YouTube (Apparently women just couldn’t keep their clothes on in his presence!)
Make it a poll, or add your nominations from film and TV—or any personal experience.
I don’t know what the best tribute would be but, I love Dino! The greatest singer of Italian love songs. His voice was amazing and he was handsome. I remember hearing someone say that Dino was always relaxed and fun-loving. Nothing got him upset. He always wanted to have a good time. I think in real-life he was just like he was on his TV show.
Right there with you!
I have a cousin in Pennsylvania who is a doctor and board certified surgeon (don’t worry about forgetting that- he is more than willing to remind you), an accomplished man who can afford to vacation anywhere he wants, and for years (and possibly still) drives to Steubenville, Ohio every other year for the Dean Martin days celebration. Driving around the hometown in his Cadillac with the windows down and all of us singing **Amore **along with the CD was always a good summer day. (I can only imagine what it is like now that all these cousins now have convertible Corvettes that only come out of storage during summer—it must be like a parade of Dean Martin impersonators.)
My kid (obviously influenced by me and the guys mentioned above) was at an outdoor festival in downtown Phoenix a few years ago where they had a karaoke stage set up. All of the kids were “singing” these rap hits I did not recognize (or appreciate). He was still a little kid, between eight and twelve years old; he asks if he can sing a song. I agree and wait for him to come up in the rotation so I can hear him screech something I am going to hate. The guy running the machine announces that someone wrote down the wrong number – who is (my kids name)? Kid bounds up on stage, consults with the guy and takes the microphone as the opening strains of Amore plays. Immediately older, over weight guys just like me come over to the stage. By the end of the song we are all singing from the cheap seats. Even though the kid is a marginal singer at best, he got the biggest round of applause all night based solely on song selection.
I did like that treatment and Joe Mantegna was great. But Ray Liotta (and Don Cheadle both) towered over Mantegna, and that was the exact opposite of the true life dynamic. Martin never appeared to work at anything – and no one ever messed with him – and I believe a good deal of that cool confidence came from his size. They must grow them tall in Abruzzo; on the other hand he was a boxer in his youth which might have helped him stay out of trouble when he was being a smartass.
Dean Martin was a fighter (boxer) in his youth, but I think it was Golden Gloves, not prize fighting. He was supposed to have a winning record but got big laughs with his line: “I had twelve professional fights . . . . . and I won all but eleven of them”. A boxer named Dino is, perfect!
Dino surely appears to be impaired during that clip, no doubt about it. And folks performed drunk all the time back then; I am told Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore could both drink Dino under a table. But I suspect that particular clip may also include a mix up with the cue cards. The producers of Dino’s TV shows were known to leave the bloopers in because they played so well. I would guess there were plenty of men who wished they could hang around with their buddies and tell juvenile jokes and sing half of a few songs every night and get paid ‘Grand Showroom’ money for doing it – why not leave the blunders in, they support the narrative perfectly. So did the lack of rehearsal.
Love the car! Such a product of its time. As close to unique as possible yet perfectly suited for those guys at that time.
I loved his TV show when I was a kid. And he was a very fine actor (Airport, anyone?). But what I remember most were his celebrity roasts. All that comedic talent gathered on one stage, Don Rickles, Billy Crystal, Red Buttons. Foster Brooks, although his tremendously inebriated character wouldn’t fly with today’s audiences. And none of the barbs was mean-spirited. It was all in good fun. It was family-friendly, too. It had to be, it was on NBC.
Dino always insisted he was drinking apple juice on stage. But Phyllis Diller once said in an interview that it wasn’t apple juice.
I am sure the truth here lies somewhere in the middle. There is no way it was always apple juice, but there is also no way it was always scotch either. My father operated many bars and restaurants when I was younger, and he and his brother owned one as a family business. They both had a standard drink that looked like a real drink. Whenever a friend or customer would buy them a drink they would give the bartender the signal and get the dummy drink—which they would sit down and drink with the buyer. If they actually drank all the drinks they were offered they would need new kidneys every other year. Of course occasionally signals would get crossed and I would hear my father or uncle say: “What the hell is that!?!” The bartender would run over and dump the ginger ale and soda water and bring a proper scotch and soda. Over the years I saw them both so drunk they couldn’t lay down without holding on—but most nights they didn’t drink at all, or maybe one or two very early in the evening. Even as an underage ‘custodial specialist’, I got so used to drinking 7-up, soda, and a lime twist that I drank them at home and ordered them in drive thru restaurants.
My father and uncle were also by-the-way, some of the unluckiest shooters of pool and darts any man has ever seen; the number of times I saw them scratch on the eight ball is mind boggling. I saw my dad get caught twice over all the years; both times he said: “Part of the service, sounds like you want a straight-up game. Let me tell you where you can find one, these two tables are just here to be sure no one goes home with a pocket full of loose change”.
It is obvious Dino was not a teetotaler, but neither was he the always drunk raging party machine he portrayed as his public persona. Things are not always what they seem- but they are usually based in a bit of truth.
Tony Polar, the mentally deficient singer in “Valley of the Dolls”, was Jacqueline Susann’s revenge because Dean Martin read a comic book and mostly ignored her when they met. Although Dino ended up having a very good career, especially when he started with Jerry Lewis he was the lesser half.
If you find a Vanity Fair article on Jacqueline Susann (google valley of the dolls Dean Martin), yes. I never read the book and in 2 hour 3 min movie (which I saw once) the Tony Polar character, married to
Jennifer North (Sharon Tate) is relatively minor.
Frank Sinatra admired Dean Martin?! You don’t say?!?
All seriousness aside…
Yeah, I just said that. Anyway, Dino is the man. He was a cultural touchstone for a whole generation of Italian-Americans. The Sopranos referenced him again and again, most prominently in the finale of Season 4, Whitecaps, where they literally pull up a boat with giant speakers up to a guy’s house and blast “Live From Las Vegas” in an attempt at sonic warfare.
The Soprano’s made plenty of references to Frances Albert also, and had his kids on as guest stars. Martin was a bigger influence in MY little corner of the world- but Sinatra was no errand boy. In the entertainment industry Sinatra was certainly more significant than Martin, but in my house, we loved Dean ten times more.
Here I agree too; but . . . his voice was not as well trained as Sinatra’s voice. I have enjoyed hearing Dino sing more than hearing Frank. But once it was pointed out to me (on some NPR show as I recall), I went back and listened. Frank is technically a MUCH better singer, and I subsequently learned (even though they sang all the same songs-- often with each other) that Frank was deeper, he chose and sang songs with WAY more substance. That was sort of the appeal of Dino, his were all light, happy, often romantic tunes. And if he came in late because he was puffing on a cigarette, it was understandable and easily forgiven. He could not (well certainly did not hold out his notes to the end of the measure, and I am not sure he could hold a tone for very long at all.
Sinatra by comparison was always on time and never missed a mark, never faded out near the end and absolutely never warbled a note because his voice was too weak to hold pitch. Still, I enjoyed Dino’s singing much more. I still enjoy his singing and prefer his voice to that of Frank. But, and it is a big but, now that I am older and I’m more aware of the hurt life can put on a soul— there are many times when hearing Sinatra sing about loss and hurt for one song is more meaningful than the whole Dean Martin catalog combined.
One more thing, the opening paragraphs I deleted before this was ever posted mentioned that my father was more like the Sinatra character in his little corner of the world. He was absolutely in charge of everything always (until his wife’s uncles came to town and eclipsed him), and he was surrounded by Dino types who were all bigger and tougher and cooler. They all deferred to him and called him “The Little General”. The local Chamber of Commerce called him the ‘Godfather’ to boot, but I always wished he was more like Dino. His buddies Al, and Johnnie, and Lou, and Dino, and Robert, and Richard, and Tom,and a few more were the tall aloof Dino’s (but they all scurried for his favor [in varying degrees], and it was never a party unless my folks [or at least my dad] showed up). He was better at gambling and drinking and tipping and pool and darts than every one of them (golf was the exception-- he never played golf) – and I mildly resented him for not being more like the Dino clones. I loved Dino the most, I only knew Frank as his buddy.