Dean Martin: Italian of the Week

Dean_Martin_Photo_10Dino Paul Crocetti was born on June 7, 1917. His father, Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, was originally from Montesilvano, Abruzzo, and his mother, Angela (née Barra), was an Italian America whose family also came from Abruzzo. Growing up, Dino first learned how to speak Italian and did not start learning English until he began school when he was five-years-old. Growing up, he worked as a boxer and blackjack dealer, as well as at a speakeasy and steel mill.

Following World War II, Dean Martin (having adopted his new name change following a gig with bandleader Sammy Watkins) teamed up with comedian Jerry Lewis to form a comedy/musical duo. The two began to perform in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before moving on to nightclubs in New York City. The duo caught the attention of Hollywood and starred in several films and television shows. By the late 1950s, Dean went out on his own to star in solo films. He received great acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

martin-dean-5110b0dce51edDuring his career, Dean was best known for being part of the Rat Pack and joining his friends on the screen and stage. His variety show, The Dean Martin Show, ran on television for nearly 10 years, and his follow-up, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, was on television for another 11. During his musical career, the crooner released over 60 album and 100 singles including the hits “That’s Amore,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “Memories are Made of This,” and the holiday classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Dean passed away on December 25, 1995. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the music industry.

Sources: Dean Martin: Official Site,, AllMusic, The New York Times

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