Dean Martin's daughter talks about life among the Rat Pack, developing own singing career

eshaw@islandpacket.comSeptember 25, 2013 

Deana Martin performing.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • IF YOU GO

    WHAT: Deana Martin stars in "Deana Sings Dino"

    WHERE: The Jazz Corner, The Village at Wexford, 1000 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island

    WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept. 27-28

    COST: $50

    DETAILS: www.thejazzcorner.com

When Dean Martin's daughter Deana was 18, she made her television debut performing on her father's popular TV series, "The Dean Martin Show." She would become a frequent guest, singing alongside her father's Rat Pack pals Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., or "Uncle Frank" and "Uncle Sammy" as Deana called them.

"To be there with them was just amazing. It's hard to pick just one favorite show-biz moment, but singing with them was one of the highlights," Martin said.

Now 65, Martin has spent a lifetime carving out her own career, which is inextricably woven into that of her famous father. But how do you make a name for yourself when your dad is the "King of Cool"?

"A long time ago I wondered if people liked me just because of my dad, but I've worked so long and so hard that people love what I do now too," said Martin, who has appeared in numerous plays, movies and TV shows during her tenure as a performer. A few years ago she wrote a book, "Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughters Eyes," chronicling the ups and downs of her Hollywood family. And she recently released her fourth CD, "Destination Moon."

"For me, a huge compliment is when after a show people come up and say 'I was a huge fan of your father, but I'm now a huge fan of yours,'" Martin said.

She will sing songs by her dad and his contemporaries on Sept. 27 and 28 at The Jazz Corner in her show "Deana Sings Dino." She will also tell stories and show home movies.

"It's not just me standing up there and singing one song after another," Martin said. "It's taking the audience on a musical journey through time."

Martin talks about her upcoming show, her life in the spotlight and living up to her father's name.

Question. What do you like about doing this show in particular?

Answer. It's the songs. I always love to sing my dad's songs because that brings joy to people. Everybody loved Dean Martin. I don't think I've ever met anyone that didn't love Dean Martin.

I got into singing the Great American Songbook because of him. I started out in country, then went into rock'n'roll, but it wasn't until my dad passed away that I really started listening to his music and saying, "This is wonderful."

I became interested in the music because of my dad and I started singing his songs and I saw the reaction from the crowd, and it made me feel incredible. I felt closer to him. Then I got more into singing it for myself, not just as Dean Martin's daughter.

Q. Do you ever get tired of being referred to as Dean Martin's daughter?

A. (Laughs) You cannot get away from that. There couldn't be anyone better to be the daughter of. In the beginning it was tough for me because I thought I had such a name to live up to, but that's who I am. To tell you the truth, he made it look so easy. It's really not so easy. But it's an honor for me to be his daughter.

Q. The show includes some reflections and stories you share with the audience. Can you give me a preview of one?

A. It has lots of tidbits from my book, "Memories Are Made of This." I talk about going to Las Vegas as a young girl and watching my dad come out on stage, how it was for me to be at the Sands Hotel in the '60s and sitting in the audience, hearing the announcer say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Sands Hotel is proud to present the star of our show ... Dean Martin!" It gives people an idea of what his show was like and it brings people back to that era in an updated way.

Q. You've been active in the industry since you were very young. What do you make of how the music business has changed over the years?

A. It's unbelievable that one can record a song in their garage and put it on YouTube and be an instant success. It's mind boggling to me. I do love "America's Got Talent" and "The Voice" and "The X Factor." It gives an opportunity to so many people who would not have ordinarily been able to show people what they have. I know when I was growing up it was tough. You had to get an agent and sometimes go on cattle calls and beat down doors. Now it's a whole different scene with social media and all of that.

I think this is probably the best time to be living if you are an artist. It was very difficult back then, but now with the Internet and all that, I think it's leveled the playing field for everyone.

Q. Is there anything else new in the works for you?

A. The release of my fourth CD is very exciting. It has four brand new songs on it, songs that no one has heard yet. So if they become popular it will be from my own version. The arrangements are beautiful.

And my book is going to be made into a movie. Bonnie Hunt is writing the screenplay, Joe Montegna is going to direct and co-produce, and Jennifer Love Hewitt is going to portray me. She's lovely. She's a very good actress and a good singer.

Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

RELATED CONTENT

The Jazz Corner

Deana Martin's website

Events: Celebrating the Heritage of Jazz

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