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Sicilian Culture: The People


Dean Martin
(Dino Paul Crocetti)
1917 - - December 26, 1995

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 things."

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.

Frank 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"

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