On this day 100 years ago, the incomparable Dean Martin was born.
The Italian-American singer, actor, comedian, and film producer was one of the most inescapable entertainers of the mid-1900s, known for his incredible charisma. It was only befitting Martin was constantly referred to as the “King of Cool.”
He partnered with Jerry Lewis for the comedy team aptly named Martin and Lewis, and joined the “Rat Pack” before hosting the television variety program The Dean Martin Show (1965–1974) and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1974–1984).
Martin has scored dozen of hits, some of his most well known being “Memories Are Made of This”, “That’s Amore”, and “Everybody Loves Somebody”.
He was born on June 7, 1917 as Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, to Italian parents. He was bullied as a child for his broken English. In Grade 10, he dropped out of high school because he felt he was smarter than his teachers. He found odd jobs bootlegging liquor, dealing blackjack, and working in a steel mill.
At 15, he started boxing and billed himself “Kid Crochet.” He suffered a broken nose, a scarred lip, and broken knuckles as a result of 12 fights (he says he won eleven.)
He caught his first break in show business working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra and singing in a croon inspired by the styles of Harry Mills. He started singing for bandleader Sammy Watkins, who suggested he change his name to Dean Martin.
Martin married in 1941 to Elizabeth “Betty” Anne McDonald and had four children before divorcing in 1949. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 during World War II in Akron, Ohio.
Upon his return, he pursued comedy and made his TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show with Lewis in 1948. It was here his show business career would take off, with acting ventures (including Ocean’s 11 with the Rat Pack) and recorded more than 100 albums over his carer, even though he could not read music.
Here are 10 of Martin’s most well known songs: