Born the son of an Italian immigrant barber in
Steubenville, Ohio, Dean Martin was famous in many aspect, beginning with
his comedy partnership with Jerry Lewis in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He
later went on to become a successful film, television, recording and
nightclub star in his own right. "Dino," as he was known to his show
biz cronies and generations of fans, died in his Beverly Hills home of acute
respiratory failure at 3:30 a.m at age 78.
While his image was that of a laid
back alcoholic, the glass he had on stage contained nothing more than apple
juice as a prop. Dean once said "Two of the greatest turnin' points
in my career were, first, meetin' Jerry Lewis, second, leavin' Jerry Lewis,"
Martin said in 1967. "I became a real actor because of these two
Dean Martin was a Word War II veteran
and was often surrounded by a large family, his daily golfing buddies including
Frank Sinatra and their Rat Pack of entertainers
including Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Cahn and
occasionally MacLaine and Ruta Lee, but he was still known as a loner. His
third wife said "I married him knowing nothing about him. I divorced him
23 years later, and I still know nothing about him."
His son Dino was an actor and member
of the short-lived 1960s teen pop group Dino, Desi & Billy, served as
a captain in the Air Force National Guard and was killed in 1987 when his
Phantom jet fighter crashed into a California mountain during a snowstorm.
Dean Martin never recoverd from this tragedy, and it is noted that
Jerry Lewis attended the funeral quietly sitting in the back.
Sinatra in a written statement: "Too many times I've been asked
to say something about friends who are gone -- this is one of the hardest...
Dean was my brother -- not through blood but through choice. Our friendship
has traveled down many roads over the years and there will always be a special
place in my heart and soul for Dean. "He has been like the air I breathe
-- always there, always close by".
Jerry Lewis: "completely shattered
and grief-stricken" at the news of his death
Alan King: "I'm going to have a drink
right now for him"
Dean Martin & Rat Pack Posters