Happy Birthday, Dino!
Today is the birthday of my favorite male singer of all time, the great Dean Martin!
And it’s not just Dino’s birthday today. June 7th is also national Dean Martin Day!
“In honor of the Steubenville, Ohio, native Dino Paul Crocetti, born on that day in 1917, for his achievements as a national and international singer, actor and radio and television personality.”
According to Dean’s daughter, Deana,
“Dad has the distinction of being the only entertainer honored with his own national day in the entire United States.”
WOW! Pretty cool!
Why Dino is So Special to My Family
Is it really a surprise though, that such a likeable, talented, easy going, approachable, and cool star like Dean Martin would be the one to get his own national holiday? In some ways, I feel like Dino is one of my family! He just had that way about him.
I’ve mentioned before that my three-year-old daughter Mary Jeanne’s self-given nickname, “Mimi,” was pretty much cemented when we discovered Dean Martin recorded a song of the same name. Quite literally from the beginning of her life, Mary Jeanne has been a Dean Martin fan.
Dino’s was the only voice that could calm Mary Jeanne when she was a newborn: I cannot tell you how many car rides, with a screaming, crying baby in the backseat, I thanked heaven for the smooth crooning of Dean Martin. I tried Sinatra, Bobby Darin, even my girl Doris, and none of them could do the trick. The one way to get my baby girl to calm down and accept the situation was to put on Dean Martin. Any Dean Martin song, and Mary Jeanne’s crying would subside, and eventually stop.
I can still count on Dino’s calming voice to stop tears. Sometimes I feel like he’s up there looking out for my little girl. (AND MY SANITY when I needed those newborn crying spells to stop!!!!!)
As a result of this sweet little connection, if you will, between Dino and MJ, he has become a special favorite of mine, and I’ve since read a lot about him. I cannot stress enough how much I LOVED reading Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes, an endearing memoir written by Dean’s lovely daughter, Deana. If you’re already a Dean Martin fan, or looking to learn more about who he was off camera, I highly recommend Deana’s book!
Because of what Dino means to my family, I wanted to share a few sweet memories Deana recounts in her memoir about her dad at home.
Dino’s Favorite Simple Snack
Now, you may think that because of his great wealth— Dino reportedly earned more in 1967 than anyone in the entertainment industry—he would have had some pretty expensive tastes.
Well…want to know what Dean Martin’s super ritzy, favorite snack was when he came home from the studio every evening? According to Deana,
“He’d take a piece of Wonder Bread, smear it with butter, fold it over, and carry it into the living room, where he’d turn on the TV, eat his little sandwich, and sometimes fall asleep on the couch.”
So much for expensive tastes! Even with his millions, Dean Martin was still so incredibly relatable. LOVE it!
He Was Home for Dinner Every Night
Despite his famous friendships with such night owls as Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack, Dean Martin was not a partier, preferring instead to come home every night after his shows or filming/recording at the studio. Deana shared that
“Dad was home a lot, and we had dinner together as a family almost every night. To us it was the norm, having our father sitting at the head of the table each night, asking us about our day and cracking jokes. He enjoyed this time with the family, sharing a meal.. I guess it was the Italian in him.”
Dean’s nightly routine started with cocktails with his wife, the beautiful Jeanne (pronounced “Jeannie”). Then, he’d grab the kids, all seven of them, and
“we’d play roughhouse and climb all over him, which he never seemed to mind. Whenever the play-fights got a bit out of had, he’d yell jokingly, ‘Not the nose!’ or ‘Not the throat! Remember, the throat pays for everything!’”
Isn’t that just the sweetest image EVER? There aren’t many things sweeter than a father enjoying time with his wife and kids. How fun that Deana gives us a glimpse of this side of her father.
You Knew Dino Had Your Back
Famous friends like Frank Sinatra knew Dino had their backs. As Ocean’s Eleven (1960) photographer Sid Avery said of Frank and Dino,
“They’d have killed for each other…I’m not altogether sure they didn’t.”
But you didn’t have to be a famous friend to know you could rely on Dino. Even if you were a distant family relative, you could count on him. Deana shares this fabulous story about her father saving one such relative from overwhelming embarrassment one night:
“Violet [the relative] arrived at a party at the Fort Steuben Hotel to celebrate Dad’s return to his hometown…and made a grand entrance in high-heeled shoes and a strapless black taffeta gown.
As she walked in, all heads turned and, momentarily distracted, she stumbled and fell head over heels in the middle of the foyer. Everyone gasped with embarrassment as she plunged to the floor and landed in an ungainly heap. No one tried to help her up. Suddenly, Dad stepped forward, applauding enthusiastically, and picked her up.
‘Well done, Vi,’ he said with a smile. ‘That was exactly as we rehearsed it!’
He made everybody believe the whole thing was staged and that she’d done a brilliant pratfall. She was so grateful, she never forgot his kindness.”
OH MY GOSH WHAT A NICE GUY!!!! I hope I can remember that awesome save, and help someone out in the future if I ever witness a similar situation. And I hope if I’m the one falling, there will be some fast-thinking, kind soul who does the same thing for me!
He was Always Grateful for His Good Fortune
Dean once said,
“I wouldn’t change places with anyone in the world. It’s unbelievable that all this could happen to me…Nobody ever figured me for this. Nobody.”
Dino was always amazed at his good luck to be blessed with a voice and charisma that led to such a successful, lengthy career. According to Deana,
“Every day he woke up and counted his blessings; every night before he went to bed he said his prayers and thanked God for his good fortune. He wouldn’t walk in the front door without kissing the gold Saint Christopher medal Claudia [one of his daughters] had bought him and which he wore around his neck.”
Is it any wonder why we still love Dean Martin? How I would have loved to know this talented, warm-hearted guy! From his films and recordings, live shows and television series, to his bread and butter sandwiches, Dino was truly one of a kind, making us all feel at home in his presence while still remaining the coolest guy around.
Happy Birthday, Dino! Thanks for making us all feel like family. (:
And don’t forget to catch Dino and the rest of the Rat Pack in Ocean’s Eleven (1960) on June 25th! Check my calendar for details!