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Dean Martin

Martin was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to an Italian father, Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti (1894–1967), and an Italian-American mother, Angela Crocetti (née Barra; 1899–1966). They were married in 1914. His father, who was a barber, was originally from Montesilvano, in Abruzzo, and his maternal grandparents' origins are believed to be also from Abruzzo even if it is not clearly known. Martin had an older brother named William Alfonso Crocetti (1916-1968). Martin's first language was an Abruzzese dialect of Italian, and he did not speak English until he started school at the age of 5. 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. 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 15 he was a boxer who billed himself as "Kid Crochet". His prizefighting earned him a broken nose (later straightened), a scarred lip, many broken knuckles (a result of not being able to afford tape used to wrap boxers' hands), and a bruised body. Of his 12 bouts, he said: "I won all but 11." For a time, he roomed with Sonny King, who, like Martin, was starting in show business and had little money. It is said that Martin and King held bare-knuckle matches in their apartment, fighting until one was knocked out; people paid to watch. Martin knocked out King in the first round of an amateur boxing match.

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 Martini). He got his break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra. He sang in a crooning style influenced by Harry Mills (of the Mills Brothers), among others. In the early 1940s, he started singing for bandleader Sammy Watkins, who suggested he change his name to Dean Martin.

In October 1941 Martin married Elizabeth ("Betty") Anne McDonald, they had four children, and the marriage ended in 1949. Martin worked for various bands throughout the early 1940s, mostly on looks and personality until he developed his own singing style. Martin flopped at the Riobamba, a nightclub in New York,[6] when he followed Frank Sinatra in 1943, but it was the setting for their meeting.

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; Jerry Lewis referred to the surgery Martin needed for this in his autobiography).

By 1946 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. He drew audiences, but he inspired none of the popularity enjoyed by Sinatra or Crosby.


Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti; June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995) was an American singer, actor, comedian, and film producer.

One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed the "King of Cool" for his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assuredness. He and Jerry Lewis were partners in the immensely popular comedy team "Martin and Lewis". He was a member of the "Rat Pack" and a star in concert stage/nightclubs, recordings, motion pictures, and television. He was the host of the television variety program The Dean Martin Show (1965–1974) and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1974–1985).

Martin's relaxed, warbling crooning voice earned him dozens of hit singles including his signature songs "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare", and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?".

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