Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917, in Steubenville, Ohio,
to Italian immigrant parents. His first language was Italian and he did not speak English
until he started school. He dropped out of Steubenville High School in the tenth grade because, according to Martin, he thought he was smarter than his teachers.
He earned money working speakeasies, and dealing blackjack, among other illegal ventures.
Martin was a welterweight boxer, billing himself as "Kid Crochet"!
Of his 12 bouts, he said that he "won all but 11".
He sang with local bands, calling himself "Dino Martini" in Cleveland.
He got his big break working in Columbus for the Ernie McKay Orchestra
singing in a crooning style. By late 1940 he began singing for Cleveland bandleader Sammy Watkins,
who suggested dropping the "i" in Martini. By the fall 1943 he began performing in New York City.
Martin met comic Jerry Lewis at the Glass Hat Club in New York, where both were performing.
From that meeting the music-comedy team was born. Martin and Lewis debuted together at Atlantic City's 500 Cafe' on July 24, 1946. Their success led to well-paying gigs on the Eastern coast, including New York's Copacabana.
Martin and Lewis made their television debut on the first broadcast of The Ed Sullivan Show
on June 20, 1948. A radio series began in 1949, and their movie career started as comedy relief
for the movie My Friend Irma.
After the duo's numerous starring movie roles, Martin's dissatisfaction with their material led
to arguments with Lewis. The act broke up in 1956, ten years to the day from their first teaming.
By 1958, Martin thought his crooning days were over, so he focused on a solo movie career
and co-starred in a war drama, The Young Lions with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.
Martin's movie comeback was then assured with a Frank Sinatra drama, Some Came Running,
that same year. Martin was then acclaimed in Rio Bravo, directed by Howard Hawks and starring
John Wayne in 1959. He won a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the 1960
Who Was That Lady? He teamed up with Sinatra's "Rat Pack" for several more movies,
including the crime caper Ocean's 11.
By the mid-1960s, Martin was a movie, recording, television, and nightclub star.
In total, he appeared in 87 movies and television shows.
As a singer, he recorded more than 100 albums and 600 songs.
His signature tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody", knocked the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night"
from the number one spot in 1964.
For three decades, Martin was among the most popular acts in Las Vegas.
In 1965, Martin launched a weekly comedy-variety series, The Dean Martin Show, until 1974.
After the show's cancellation, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast aired as a series of TV specials
Martin also made a public reconciliation with Jerry Lewis in September of 1976.
Frank Sinatra shocked Lewis by bringing Martin out on stage and as the two men embraced,
the audience gave them a standing ovation.
Dean Martin, a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died on Christmas Day, 1995,
at age 78. The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor.