Dean Martin, one of the most loved and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, would have turned 105 today. The crooner and funnyman sadly passed away in 1995 due to an acute respiratory failure, but was born on this day in 1917 — just a year before World War 1 ended. He was nicknamed “The King of Cool” after breaking into the mainstream with comedian Jerry Lewis, billed as Martin and Lewis, in 1946. Dean became one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas and was known for his friendship with icons Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
The singer also made it big on TV, hosting The Dean Martin Show, which started in 1965, featuring his singing and comedic talent.
His best known songs include ‘Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?’, ‘Memories Are Made of This’ and ‘That’s Amore’.
At the time of his death, Dean had amassed a huge reported fortune of $30million (£24million), but it is unclear who he left it to.
It is possible that he left some money to his ex-wife Jean Biegger, and he also could have passed on his wealth to his eight children, according to reports.
Among his kids is Dean Paul Martin Jr, a pop singer and film and television actor.
A member of the California Air National Guard, he sadly died in a crash during a military training flight in 1987, aged 35.
Ricci, another of his sons, was a musician and singer. He passed away in 2016 aged 62.
His daughter, Deana Martin, is a singer and actress aged 73.
She covered some of her father’s hit songs, including the title cut and ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’, ‘That’s Amore’, ‘Just Bummin’ Around’, and ‘For Your Love’ written by her mother Betty Martin.
She also sang a duet with her father’s former comedy partner Jerry Lewis on ‘Time After Time’, an album produced by her husband John Griffeth that reached the iTunes Top 10 chart, where it remained for 40 weeks throughout 2006 and 2007.
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Deana once recalled a story when none other than Elvis Presley gave his opinion on her father Dean.
Deana told Buzzworth Radio: “Elvis was doing a movie at Paramount, and so was my dad. I went to visit dad at the studio and we were standing outside [dad’s] dressing room.
“And in those days, you rode around the studio on bicycles. And Elvis Presley comes riding up on his bicycle. And he gets off the bike when he sees my dad… And he says hi to my father. And dad introduces me.
“’Deana, this is Elvis Presley. And, Elvis, this is my daughter Deana.’
“And [Elvis] leans down to me and says, ‘Deana, they call me the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. But your dad is the King of Cool.’ And I thought, Oh my gosh. It must be true. Elvis Presley said so!”
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Last year, Deana reflected on some of her earliest memories she had with her father.
She told Ticklish Business: “Watching my dad, he took care of his time, you know, I don’t know how he got everything in… (he was) doing nightclubs and movies and radio, and then later on in his life (he) started The Dean Martin Show.
“So he did so much. But he also was able to play golf every day. He loved golf. He told me ‘the reason why I work is so that I can take care of you kids and play golf’.
She added: “You know what, he was very special. He was different from from anybody else’s parents…. all the the kids in the neighbourhood wanted to come to our house because my dad was so much fun.
“(He) had a good sense of humour. And we were all respectful. We were brought up right…. you know, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’.
“Thank God, I had my parents and my grandparents, but I did know that our parents were kind of special.”