Like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin is an American legend for his longevity and success across a garden variety of different platforms. Martin began as a nightclub singer, performed in a comedy act, starred in films, recorded hit albums, and capped his career by serving as a television host. In fact, there may be no star who was better able to transcend the different avenues of entertainment.
Martin’s success was made all the more amazing by the fact that he never had to change his personality or persona to find success in his different endeavors. From the beginning, Martin’s public persona remained largely unchanged. He grew more famous and wealthy, but he always remained the smooth-talking Italian with the easy charm and the cool veneer. As Jerry Lewis noted in his memoirs about Martin, “Dean had this uncanny way of making everything bad look like it wasn’t all that bad.” If anything, Martin suggested that no matter the circumstances, people can always face their situation with leisurely charm.
Martin’s versatility is unprecedented even today, an era in which stars routinely alternate between film and musical careers. Martin was able to simultaneously work across different media at the same time; even after rising to fame as a singer, he continued to perform with Jerry Lewis and star in films. But after his film career took off, he continued to perform the crooning style of music that had made him famous and had long since been outdated. While other actors were forced to drastically alter their persona to keep up with the times, Martin’s ability to fuse suave glamour with an everyday ordinariness ensured he didn’t need to transform anything.
Martin’s life and career are often compared to his close friend and contemporary Frank Sinatra, and for good reason. Both came from proud Italian families, both were cohorts in the famed Rat Pack in the 1960s, and they each maintained success even late in their careers. However, Sinatra’s career was filled with far more ups and downs than Martin, and his public image experienced highs and lows along with it. It’s also somewhat ironic that it was Martin who Anglicized his name but remained a bigger Italian icon than Sinatra. They each began their careers as Italian crooners, but Martin maintained his style while Sinatra adopted a brasher, more “All-American” singing method. Martin never strayed far from his humble background, even as he became one of America’s biggest stars.
American Legends: The Life of Dean Martin profiles the life and career of one of America’s most famous performers. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about Dean Martin like you never have before, in no time at all.