Dean Martin died aged seventy-eight on 25th December 1995 at his home in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.. The cause was acute respiratory failure resulting from emphysema. Dean Martin, a heavy smoker, had been diagnosed with lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in September 1993, and was told that he would require surgery to prolong his life, but, however, he rejected it. Dean retired from public life in early 1995 . The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor. Dean Martin's body was interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. The crypt features the epitaph "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime", the title of his signature song.
Dean Martin was married three times. His first wife was Elizabeth Anne "Betty" McDonald who lived from 14th July,1922 untill 11th July 1989. Dean Martin and Elizabeth married in 1941 and had four children: Craig Martin,born 1942, Claudia Martin March 16, 1944 – February 16, 2001, Gail Martin, born 1945 ; and Martina Martin, born 1948. Dean Martin and Elizabeth divorced in 1949 and Dean Martin gained custody of their children. Betty lived out her life in relative obscurity in San Francisco, California.
Dean Martin's second wife was Dorothy Jean, a former Orange Bowl queen from Coral Gables, Florida. Their marriage lasted 24 years (1949–1973) and produced three children: Paul Martin, Ricci Martin, and Gina Martin.
Dean Martin's third marriage, to Catherine Hawn, lasted three years before Dean Martin initiated divorce proceedings. They had no biological children of their own but Dean Martin adopted Catherine's daughter, Sasha.
Dean Martin's uncle was Leonard Barr, who appeared in several of his shows. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he lived at 363 Copa De Oro Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles, before selling it to Sir Tom Jones for $500,000 in June 1976.
Dean Martin's son-in-law was the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson, who married Dean Martin's daughter Gina. Figure skater Dorothy Hamill and actress Olivia Hussey were his daughters-in-law during their marriages to Dean Martin's son, Paul Martin.
Dean Martin was born on 7th June 1917, in Steubenville, Ohio, to an Italian father, Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, and an Italian-American mother, Angela Crocetti. His father, who was a barber, was originally from Montesilvano, in Abruzzo, and his maternal grandparents' origins are believed to be also from Abruzzo, although they are not clearly known. Dean Martin had an older brother named William Alfonso Crocetti. Dean Martin's first language was an Abruzzese dialect of Italian, and he did not speak English until he started school at the age of five. He attended Grant Elementary School in Steubenville, where he was bullied for his broken English. He later took up the drums as a hobby as a teenager. Dean Martin then dropped out of Steubenville High School in the 10th grade because he thought he was smarter than his teachers. He bootlegged liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier, was a blackjack dealer, worked in a steel mill, and boxed as a welterweight.
At age fifteen, he was a boxer who billed himself as "Kid Crochet." His prizefighting earned him a broken nose, a scarred lip, many broken knuckles, and a bruised body. Of his 12 bouts, he said: "I won all but 11." For a time, he shared a New York City apartment with Sonny King, who like Dean Martin, was starting in show business and had little money. Dean Martin and King reportedly held bare-knuckle matches in their apartment, fighting until one was knocked out; people paid to watch. Dean Martin knocked out King in the first round of an amateur boxing match. Dean Martin gave up boxing to work as a roulette stickman and croupier in an illegal casino behind a tobacco shop, where he had started as a stock boy. At the same time, he sang with local bands, calling himself "Dino Martini" (after the Metropolitan Opera tenor, Nino Dean Martini). He got his break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra. He sang in a crooning style influenced by Harry Mills, among others. In the early 1940s, he started singing for bandleader Sammy Watkins, who suggested he change his name to DeanMartin.
In October 1941, Dean Martin married Elizabeth "Betty" Anne McDonald in Cleveland, Ohio, and the couple had an apartment in Cleveland Heights for a while. They eventually had four children before the marriage ended in 1949. Dean Martin worked for various bands throughout the early 1940s, mostly on looks and personality until he developed his own singing style. Dean Martin flopped at the Riobamba, a nightclub in New York, when he followed Frank Sinatra in 1943, but it was the setting for their meeting. Dean Martin was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 during World War II, serving a year in Akron, Ohio. He was reclassified as 4-F and discharged, possibly because of a double hernia. By 1946, Dean Martin was doing well, but he was little more than an East Coast nightclub singer with a common style, similar to that of Bing Crosby.
Dean Martin attracted the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures, but a Hollywood contract was not forthcoming. He met comic Jerry Lewis at the Glass Hat Club in New York, where both were performing. Dean Martin and Lewis formed a fast friendship which led to their participation in each other's acts and the formation of a music-comedy team. Dean Martin and Lewis's debut together occurred at Atlantic City's 500 Club on July 24, 1946, and they were not well received. The owner, Skinny D'Amato, warned them that if they did not come up with a better act for their second show that night, they would be fired. Huddling in the alley behind the club, Lewis and Dean Martin agreed to "go for broke", they divided their act between songs, skits, and ad-libbed material. Dean Martin sang and Lewis dressed as a busboy, dropping plates and making a shambles of Dean Martin's performance and the club's decorum until Lewis was chased from the room as Dean Martin pelted him with breadrolls.
They did slapstick, reeled off old vaudeville jokes, and did whatever else popped into their heads. The audience laughed. This success led to a series of well-paying engagements on the Eastern seaboard, culminating in a run at New York's Copacabana. The act consisted of Lewis interrupting and heckling Dean Martin while he was trying to sing, with the two ultimately chasing each other around the stage. The secret, both said, is that they ignored the audience and played to each other. The team made its TV debut on the first broadcast of CBS-TV network's The Ed Sullivan Show on June 20, 1948, with composers Rodgers and Hammerstein also appearing. Hoping to improve their act, the two hired young comedy writers Norman Lear and Ed Simmons to write their bits. With the assistance of both Lear and Simmons, the two would take their act beyond nightclubs.
A radio series began in 1949, the year Dean Martin and Lewis signed with Paramount producer Hal B. Wallis as comedy relief for the movie My Friend Irma. Their agent, Abby Greshler, negotiated one of Hollywood's best deals: although they received only 75,000 dollars between them for their films with Wallis, Dean Martin and Lewis were free to do one outside film a year, which they would co-produce through their own York Productions.
They also controlled their club, record, radio, and television appearances, and through these they earned millions of dollars. In Dean Dean Martin & Me, Lewis calls Dean Martin one of the great comic geniuses of all time. They were friends, as well, with Lewis acting as best man when Dean Martin remarried in 1949. But harsh comments from critics, as well as frustration with the similarity of Dean Martin and Lewis movies, which producer Hal Wallis refused to change, led to Dean Martin's dissatisfaction. He put less enthusiasm into the work, leading to escalating arguments with Lewis. Dean Martin told his partner he was "nothing to me but a dollar sign". The act broke up in 1956, 10 years to the day from the first teaming.
Dean Martin's first solo film, Ten Thousand Bedrooms in 1957, was a box-office failure. He was still popular as a singer, but with rock and roll to the fore, the era of the pop crooner was waning. Dean Martin wanted to become a dramatic actor, known for more than slapstick comedy films. Though offered a fraction of his former salary to co-star in a war drama, The Young Lions in 1958, his part would be with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. Tony Randall already had the part, but talent agency MCA realized that with this film, Dean Martin would become a triple threat: they could make money from his work in night clubs, films, and records. Dean Martin replaced Randall and the film turned out to be the beginning of Dean Martin's comeback. Dean Martin starred alongside Frank Sinatra for the first time in the Vincente Minnelli drama, Some Came Running (1958). By the mid-1960s, Dean Martin was a movie, recording, television, and nightclub star. Dean Martin was acclaimed as Dude in Rio Bravo in 1959, directed by Howard Hawks and also starring John Wayne and singer Ricky Nelson. He teamed again with Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder in1965, cast as brothers. In 1960, Dean Martin was cast in the film version of the Judy Holliday stage musical comedy Bells Are Ringing. He won a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the 1960 film comedy Who Was That Lady? but continued to seek dramatic roles, portraying a Southern politician in 1961's Ada, and starring in 1963's screen adaptation of an intense stage drama, Toys in the Attic, opposite Geraldine Page, as well as in 1970's drama Airport, a huge box-office success.
Frank Sinatra and Dean teamed up for several more movies, the crime caper Ocean's 11, the musical Robin and the 7 Hoods, and the Western comedies Sergeants 3 and 4 for Texas, often with their Rat Pack pals such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, as well as a romantic comedy, Marriage on the Rocks. Dean Martin also co-starred with Shirley MacLaine in a number of films, including Some Came Running, Artists and Models, Career, All in a Night's Work, and What a Way to Go! He played a satiric variation of his own womanizing persona as Las Vegas singer "Dino" in Billy Wilder's comedy Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) with Kim Novak, and he poked fun at his image in films such as the Matt Helm spy spoofs of the 1960s, in which he was a co-producer. In the third Matt Helm film The Ambushers in 1967, Helm, about to be executed, receives a last cigarette and tells the provider, "I'll remember you from the great beyond," continuing sotto voce, "somewhere around Steubenville, I hope."
As a singer, Dean Martin copied the styles of Harry Mills (of the Mills Brothers), Bing Crosby, and Perry Como until he developed his own and could hold his own in duets with Sinatra and Crosby. Like Sinatra, he could not read music, but he recorded more than 100 albums and 600 songs. His signature tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody", knocked the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" off number one in the United States in 1964. This was followed by "The Door is Still Open to My Heart", which reached number six that year. Elvis Presley was said to have been influenced by Dean Martin, and patterned "Love Me Tender" after his style. Dean Martin, like Elvis, was influenced by country music. By 1965, some of Dean Martin's albums, such as Dean Martin "Tex" Dean Martin Rides Again, Houston, Welcome to My World, and Gentle on My Mind, were composed of country and western songs by artists such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Buck Owens. Dean Martin hosted country performers on his TV show and was named "Man Of the Year" by the Country Music Association in 1966. The final album of his recording career was 1983's The Nashville Sessions.
The image of Dean Martin as a Vegas entertainer in a tuxedo has been an enduring one. "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?", a song Dean Martin performed in Ocean's 11, did not become a hit at the time, but has enjoyed a revival in the media and pop culture. For three decades, Dean Martin was among the most popular acts in Las Vegas. Dean Martin sang and was one of the smoothest comics in the business, benefiting from the decade of comedy with Lewis. Dean Martin's daughter, Gail, also sang in Vegas and on many TV shows including his, co-hosting his summer replacement series on NBC. Daughter Martina Martin continues to perform, as did youngest son Ricci Martin until his death in August 2016. Eldest son Craig was a producer on Dean Martin's television show and daughter Claudia was an actress in films such as For Those Who Think Young. Though often thought of as a ladies' man, Dean Martin spent a lot of time with his family; as second wife Jeanne put it, prior to the couple's divorce, "He was home every night for dinner."
As Dean Martin's solo career grew, he and Frank Sinatra became friends. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dean Martin and Sinatra, along with friends Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr. formed the Rat Pack, so-called after an earlier group of social friends, the Holmby Hills Rat Pack centered on Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, of which Sinatra had been a member. The men made films together, formed part of the Hollywood social scene, and were politically influential, through Lawford's marriage to Patricia Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy.
In 1972, Dean filed for divorce from his second wife, Jeanne. A week later, his business partnership with the Riviera hotel in Las Vegas dissolved amid reports of the casino's refusal to agree to Dean Martin's request to perform only once a night. He was taken by the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, where he was the featured performer on the hotel's opening night December 23, 1973, and also signed a three-picture deal with MGM Studios. Less than a month after his second marriage had dissolved, Dean Martin was fifty-five when he married twenty-six year-old Catherine Hawn, on April 25th 1973. Hawn had been the receptionist at the chic Gene Shacove hair salon in Beverly Hills. They divorced November 10th 1976. He was also briefly engaged to Gail Renshaw, Miss World–U.S.A. 1969. Eventually, Dean Martin reconciled with Jeanne, though they never remarried.
He also made a public reconciliation with Lewis on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon in 1976. Frank Sinatra shocked Lewis by bringing Dean Martin out on stage. As Dean Martin and Lewis embraced, the audience cheered and the phones lit up, resulting in one of the telethon's most profitable years. Lewis reported the event was one of the three most memorable of his life. Lewis quipped, "So, you working?" Dean Martin, playing drunk, replied that he was "at the Meggum".