Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Italian immigrants. And as if Dean Martin couldn’t get any cooler, the facts about his early life pre-career are incredible!
After dropping out of high school in the 10th grade, Dean’s life took some very interesting turns! He bootlegged liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier, dealt blackjack, worked in a steel mill, and boxed as a welterweight. In the boxing world he dubbed himself “Kid Crochet” and earned a broken nose, which was later straightened, and a lot of bruises.
Giving up boxing moved him on to his position as a croupier in an illegal casino, and at the same time began singing with local bands. At this time he called himself Dino Martini after an opera tenor. In the early 1940’s he started singing for band leader Sammy Watkins who suggested that he change his name to Dean Martin.
Dean married his first wife Elizabeth “Betty” Anne McDonald in 1941 and they had four children together.
Although Dean continued to sing in nightclubs and with various bands, he didn’t enjoy the same success as Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra at first. He was yet another name in a world where many singers had the same style, which encouraged him to keep singing with different bands until he developed his own paired with his irresistible charm.
Though Dean didn’t do well when performing in a nightclub in New York just after Frank, it did set the stage for them to meet.
Things didn’t really take off for him until he teamed up with Jerry Lewis. They met at a nightclub in New York and formed a fast friendship which led to a ten year partnership. To this day the antics and laughter which they brought to their audiences are still enjoyed and loved. Though they both moved on to separate careers and lives, it is still very common to hear their names in a sentence together.
Dean and Jerry Lewis did enjoy a lot of success together. But it seems that even after it ended, there was still an entire world waiting for Dean.