Friday, August 1, 2008

Listen, Pally: Dean Martin Was A Comedian!

Aaaaagain, I say, listen, Pally: Dean Martin Was A Comedian!

Much of my grandmother's family is from Steubenville, Ohio and when she was young and visiting, she played with a little boy named Dino Crocetti, who later turned out to be an Italian King...The King of Cool, that is. It was Dean Martin. Dean loved where he came from and never forgot. They even named an official state holiday in Ohio-Dean Martin Day. I've always liked Dean and I'm a member of a gigantic club in that regard. Very few people didn't like Dean. I picked up a copy of the book 'Memories are made of this: Dean Martin through his daughter's eyes' and found it difficult to put down. The odyssey of Dean and his family's lives makes for quite a drama but a lot of humor too. Dean was an unusual man and had an unusual life. He was a mega-star in his day, several times over. He conquered movies, live acts, TV and the music industry and did it all with a laid back demeanor and sharp wit.

Deana Martin, Dean's daughter, didn't paint him out to be father of the year but there's no doubt that he was appreciated for the man that he was, including his quirky nature as a loner and his sense of humor. Though he's known more for his beautiful voice and his very tipsy stage persona, Dean was as funny as he was musical. An all-around talent. His days with Jerry Lewis left Jerry with a French mob of fans as the brilliant goof and Dean under appreciated for his own comic talent as a straight man and later as a character too full of scotch to actually stand up straight. Of course, he was usually drinking apple juice but even Mayberry's Otis wasn't a more likable fake drunk. Following are some quotes from the book, which I hope you get the chance and have the gumption to read. I think you'll enjoy it, too. If you've already read it...well, whatever, Pally (Dean called people 'Pally'). Here are 12 quotes to make you smile:

JD's quotes:

1. Deana talks about Dean as a teenaged playboy:

''My aunt Violet used to say to him, ''Dino, you never have any money.'' He'd smile and reply, ''I don't need money, Vi, I'm good looking.'' ''

2. Deana talks about Dean as a very minor league, smooth criminal:

''He was a card dealer at the Rex Cigar Store, where he slipped so many silver dollars down his trouser legs and into shoes that he jangled when he walked. It was money his bosses didn't begrudge him, and which he quickly spent.''

3. Deana quotes her dad with many of his most memorable lines. Here's one she quoted on family:

''I have seven beautiful kids. Don't clap, it only took seven minutes.''

4. Dean and the rest of the Rat Pack joked about each other's heritage frequently. Speaking of Frank Sinatra, Deana says:

''Frank sang too, an honor Dad reciprocated at Frank's forty-second birthday party at the Villa Capri in 1957, when he sang a version of ''He's the Top'' with the words ''He's the Wop.'' ''

5. Deana quotes her dad with this silly one-line nugget:

''Don't believe it when they say carrots are good for your eyes, I stuck one in mine last night and it hurt.''

6. Deana quotes some parental advice from Dean to his daughter, Claudia:

''Don't bite your nails,'' he'd tell Claudia. ''Look what happened to Venus de Milo.'' ''

7. Deana talks more about Dean's lighthearted ethnic teasing, this time on his wife, Jeanne:

''He constantly teased Jeanne about her German ancestry, which she had in common with Irma, our German housekeeper. ''Be careful,'' he'd tell us, ''watch those Aryan blue eyes. Next thing we know she'll be holding Bund meetings Thursday nights with Irma behind the pool house.''

8. Deana quotes Dean on his fellow ladies man, Frank Sinatra:

''When Frank dies, they're gonna give his zipper to the Smithsonian.''

9. Deana talks about some of the song alterations Dean did as his drunken stage persona, changing classic songs' lyrics like:

''I looked over Jordan and what did I see . . . Mrs. Jordan.''
''You are too beautiful for one man alone . . . so I brought along my brother.''
''You made me love you . . . you woke me up to do it.''

10. Deana remarks the time Dean's hit ''Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime'' knocked ''A Hard Day's Night'' (By the Beatles) off the number one slot:

''When Dad heard the news of its success, he sent Elvis Presley a telegram that read, ''If you can't handle the Beatles, I'll do it for you, pally.'' ''

11. Deana quotes her dad introducing the Rolling Stones in classic Dino style:

''I've been rolled when I was stoned before. Now ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.''

12. Deana quotes more Dean one-liner fun, mentioning this one:

''I don't drink anymore, and I don't drink any less.''

That's the end of the quotable Dean Martin fun, pallies. For a load of anecdotes and a keener understanding of the man, pick up a copy of the book. For immediate purposes, if you haven't had enough just yet, here's our gratuitous youtube video for your viewing pleasure. This is one of my favorites from the Dean Martin show, with Victor Borge and his classic bit called 'Phonetic Punctuation.'. Two great musical and comedic talents who used their powers for good, instead of evil, like what Stephen Lynch does. Check it out: