Crocetti was born to Italian immigrants in Ohio. He soon dropped out of school and became a liquor bootlegger, a croupier, worked in a steel mill and boxed as “Kid Crochet”. Show business beckoned and by 17 he was singing in local nightclubs as “Dino Martini”. In 1940 he changed his name to Dean Martin; so emerged one of the mid-20th century’s most popular entertainers.
The aptly named “King of Cool”, teamed with Jerry Lewis in the immensely popular comedy duo team; was a member of the famed “Rat Pack” and a star in concert, night clubs, movies (making 51 in total), and even as a television show host. Dozens of hit singles followed, Memories Are Made of This, That’s Amore, You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You, Volare, but most memorably his signature tune, Everybody Loves Somebody, a blockbuster hit that knocked the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night off the top slot in 1964.
For three decades, Martin was among the most popular acts in Las Vegas. He retired from show business in 1989, from public life in early 1995 and passed away on Christmas morning 1995. The lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honour.
By contrast Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III was born into an affluent family in Cuba. The family fled to Miami following the 1933 Cuban Revolution and Desi Arnaz turned to show business.He gained international renown as band leader of the “Desi Arnaz Orchestra”, but is best known for his role in the big hit American TV series I Love Lucy starring with his wife Lucille Ball. The 1950s series was the most watched show in the USA and remains hugely popular today, still seen by 40 million Americans each year.
Arnaz and Ball had two children: actress Lucie, and actor Desi Arnaz Jr. who became a drummer with a singing group in the late 1960s: “Dino, Desi, & Billy”, the others being Dean Paul Martin, and Billy Hinshe. The band scored two hit singles in 1965 but sadly Martin died in a military jet crash in 1987. Some years later the group reformed as “Ricci, Desi, & Billy”,with Ricci Martin, the youngest son of singer Dean Martin, replacing his late older brother.
In August 1996, just eight months after the passing of Dean Martin, I was in Wasatch, Utah golfing with a group of friends. Our host, the hotel’s GM, invited us to an evening BBQ being held in aid of charity. As we mingled, our host beckoned us to meet a couple of special guests. I’ll never forget those famous words: “Guys I want you to meet Desi Arnaz junior and Dean Martin’s son”.
Memories are made of this was playing the background… how appropriate.