Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ten Things Dean Martin Took From Northeast Ohio

Hey pallies, thought you might like to enhance your Dinoeducation with this great Dinoliterature taken from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If you wanna see it in it's original form, just click on the title of this Dinopost.

Ten Things Dean Martin Took from Northeast Ohio

By Vic Gideon

His Singing Style
Dean took singing lessons in Steubenville from the mayor's wife, Corrine Applegate, despite the fact he hated any type of schooling. But perhaps he found his greatest teacher in a movie theater in his hometown. "When a Bing Crosby movie ever came to Steubenville, I would stay there all day and watch. And that's where I learned to sing, 'cause it's true, I don't read a note. I learned from Crosby, and so did Sinatra, and Perry Como. We all started imitatin' him. He was the teacher for us all."*

His Early Performing Experiences
Dean honed his craft in Steubenville, Youngstown, and Cleveland before heading to New York, California, and Las Vegas. He made his stage debut in the summer of 1934 at Craig Beach near Youngstown and frequently sang in Steubenville. "We be sitting in these joints, we had four or five joints downtown," lifelong friend Mindy Costanzo remembers, "had floor shows every night and you'd go in there and get a beer for a dime and watch a floor show. And then he'd end up going up and singing a few songs." One Sunday, while Dean was singing at the Capitol Theatre, Glenn Miller went up to the ballroom and heard Dean singing with Al Arter's group. Miller's comment about the entertainment? In an answer akin to the Beatles hearing that guitar bands were out, Miller said, "Well, the music is pretty good. But that singer'll never make it."*

A Nickname
"We used to call him Punchy," says Mindy Costanzo. "He used to box," says Rose Angelica, organizer of Steubenville's annual Dean Martin Festival. "And they gave him the name Kid Crochet but the guys in town here called him 'Punchy' because, his first fight, he got knocked out on the first punch."

Lifelong Friends
"It was a ball," says lifelong friend Mindy Costanzo of their early years together. "Every time you looked at him you'd bust out laughing. He was a real, real comedian." Costanzo describes the same Dino from Steubenville that became world-renowned entertainer Dean Martin: "Happy go-lucky. He didn't care about anything. He'd borrow a buck off of you, and he didn't owe you anything. He was just one of those guys. He was just, you see him, just the way he acted, happy-go-lucky."

Trail of Broken Hearts
Dean romanced plenty of women in Steubenville and Cleveland. "Here today, gone tomorrow," Mary Vecchione says of Dean's love life. "That's Dean."* One of his many girlfriends, Irma DeBenedetto, doesn't have such fond memories of Dean's lifestyle. "I don't have nothing to do with him. I don't have nothing to do with him anymore. I'm married. I got a nice husband and, uh, I did go with him and that's it. I quit. He was a dirty bum - that all! Here - before he got up in the big time. Dirty liar - a bum."*

Knowledge of Gambling
"He used to work at the Rex Cigar; it was a gambling casino-type thing," says Rose Angelica of Dean's nights as a blackjack dealer and croupier in Steubenville. "And he'd wear shoes that were two sizes too big for him and he'd stuff silver dollars in 'em when he stole money from Mr. (Cosmo) Quattrone (owner of the Rex)." Dean, of course, later became one of the most successful acts in the gambling capitol of North America, Las Vegas.

Expertise Riding Horses
Dean, who played a cowboy in movies like Rio Bravo with John Wayne, learned how to ride after nights working in the gambling joints, according to his lifelong friend, Mindy. "We used to cruise around at night when he got through working at the gambling joints and then at daylight, I'd drop him off and they went out at Cunningham Stables in Wintersville and went horseback riding," Costanzo remembers. "I'd go home and go to bed; I had to go to work. That's where Dean Martin learned how to ride the horses."

Scars from Boxing
Dean carried with him scars from brow cuts and a split lip from his boxing matches. "I liked it but it didn't last long," Dean says of his boxing days.* He used to say of his 12 fights in 1936, "I won all but 11."*

His New Name
Ernie McKay from Columbus hired Dino Crocetti to sing with his band after seeing him sing in Youngstown. To capitalize on the sex appeal of another Italian singer and actor of the time, Nino Martini, McKay billed Dino Crocetti as Dino Martini. The first time Dino saw his name in print, in the Columbus Evening Dispatch, it read, "The State Restaurant will have its final Saturday afternoon football party this weekend as Ohio State closes its gridiron season with Michigan at Ann Arbor. The McKaymen, with their 'Singing Strings Trio' and vocalist Dino Martini, will entertain football stay-at-homes at the luncheon, dinner, and supper sessions."* Ohio State lost, by the way. In Autumn of 1940, while singing with Sammy Watkins, Watkins Americanized Dino Martini's name to Dean Martin because he didn't believe the band can be successful with a singer who had an Italian-sounding name. Dean protested, saying that Tommy Dorsey just had a hit with his new record, "I'll Never Smile Again," with an Italian singer, Frank Sinatra. "A freak shot," Watkins said.*

His First Wife Betty
"We stayed at the Hollenden Hotel," Betty remembered of her trip to Cleveland with her father on business in 1941 before he was promoted and the family moved to Cleveland.* "The first night, we went downstairs, and there was Dean singing in the dinner club with the Sammy Watkins band. Dean kept looking over at us and talking to the trombone player."*

*From Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams by Nick Tosches


Rogue Spy 007 said...

Hey pallie DMP. I look forward to discussing this article as our next meaty thread at the Dinopad. It's going to be a really good Dinodiscussion over there. Good idea to post it here to share it with other Dinofans.

Always On Watch said...

I read the book by Nick Tosches. Lots of negative stuff in there. The one negative statement in this article came from Tosches. I'm not sure how accurate that author is, because nobody else has ever substantiated what he said about our Dino.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Keith, yeah this oughta be one cool Dinodiscussion over at the Dinopad....more Dino, more Dino....that's our Dinocry!

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie AOW, thanks for stoppin' by. Personally I think that Tosches' Dinobio is stellar and the best of the holds barred!...but we are each entitled to our Dinothoughts on this. BTW, have you ever posted more Dinopixs from Dinofest 2007?