Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio on June 7, 1917. A high school drop out, he worked as a bootlegger, steelworker and a boxer before changing his name to Dean Martin and becoming a vocalist with the Sammy Watkins band.
Martin appeared permanently destined for the nightclub circuit until he met fledgling comic Jerry Lewis in New York, where both men were performing. Martin and Lewis soon formed a music-comedy team. Their success led to a string of well-paying engagements up and down the East coast, culminating with a triumphant run at the crown jewel of nightclubs, New York’s Copacabana.
Martin and Lewis were the hottest comedy act in America during the early ’50s, with Dean stepping out on his own to score a giant hit with his recording, “That’s Amore” in 1953. Two years later in 1955 Dean Martin was at the top of the Hit Parade with his #1 hit, “Memories Are Made of This” signaling the start of a break up that finally took place in 1956. In 1958 Dean once again hit with his third million selling single, “Return To Me” and also hit big with “Volare.” 1964 would deliver the biggest hit yet with, “Everybody Loves Somebody” followed by “The Door Is Still Open to My Heart.” He would reach the top ten one more time with “I Will” in 1965.
As a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack”, Dean Martin played Las Vegas to sold out audiences as a headliner for several years. In 2005, Las Vegas renamed Industrial Road “Dean Martin Drive”.
With as estimated 600 songs and more than 100 albums to his credit, NBC television launched the weekly Dean Martin Show in 1965, top rated for several years. “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast” followed for ten more years starting in 1974.
An accomplished actor, besides his comedy roles in several Martin and Lewis films, Dean starred in dozens of motion pictures including “The Young Lions” in 1957, “Rio Bravo” in 1959, “The Sons of Katie Elder” in 1965, “The Silencers” in 1966, “Bandolero!” in 1968 and “Airport” in 1970.
On Christmas morning, 1995, in his 78th year Dean Martin died of respiratory failure. The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor.
Dean Martin has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his recording success, his appearances in motion pictures and on Television. He also was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2008.