According to her biography: “Deana Martin is a world-class entertainer who is equally comfortable with a celebrated symphony, at a legendary concert hall or on an intimate cabaret stage with a swinging jazz quintet. She’s a New York Times best-selling author, a gifted actor, a vocalist of incredible depth and passion and a licensed pilot. When talent is part of the family pedigree it can sometimes be difficult for an artist to forge an individual path, Deana Martin has successfully navigated that tricky terrain.”  All of that aside, I call her friend.  Deana and I have made it an annual occasion to catch up and chat about everything going on in her professional life – as well as everything still surrounding her father Dean Martin – and after missing out on 2017, we jumped on the phone to catch up…

Toddstar: Deana – it was getting to be an annual thing of speaking to each other and somehow 2017 passed us by so I reached out and wanted to make sure we spoke in early 2018.

Deana: Well I’m glad that you did. There’s been so much… 2017 was a really busy year – especially because it was Dean Martin’s 100th birthday celebration year.

Toddstar: Yes it was. I wanted to talk about that. Why don’t you fill us in? Obviously it holds a lot for you personally, but professionally, what did that mean to you?

Deana: Oh, it was unbelievable. To think back, to go back and review my dad’s life, his career, where he came from, and where he ended up. It was just… it was overwhelming for me, but it was so much fun and it was gratifying to me for all of the audiences, for all of the shows when the people would come and to hear more stories about my dad. It was amazing. Not only was I able to bring the joy that Dean Martin brought to the world. I was able to bring it on a very personal plain to the people who were there. I had 90 year-old fans in the audience, or I had 12 year-old fans in the audience. There was no age discrimination for Dean Martin, he just appeals to everyone. So for me personally, it was gratifying of course and boy, a lot of hard work. But I have to tell you, I think the topper for me during the year, let me see – it had to be in July. In July, we went to South Point Casino in Las Vegas and I did two huge shows and we brought in the Gold Diggers, the original Gold Diggers from the Dean Martin show. It was spectacular shows, of course, way over sold out every night. To see those beautiful Gold Diggers and to hear what my dad meant to them and all the years on the show with him and all the people who came. Of course, two days after that I did the Deana Martin Celebrity Roast, which was hysterical. In fact, we’re going to be doing a Deana Martin Celebrity Roast April 15th at the South Point Casino in Los Vegas. I’m going to roast Joe Mantegna.

Toddstar: Oh, that should be a good one.

Deana: Oh, it’s going to be incredible because of all the people that want to come and roast him, it will be outrageous. So tell all your friends, they’ve got to go to the South Point Casino on April 15th for the Joe Mantegna roast. It’s going to be hysterical. I’m very excited about that. But, back to the Dean Martin, that year and going to Steubenville, Ohio and meeting – you know that’s where dad was born, June 7, 1917 – meeting all the people that came to Steubenville because they loved Dean Martin, and just standing there. I believe, Todd, I shook every hand, I signed every autograph, I hugged everybody and everybody had a story about my dad. I can’t even express to you what that felt like, and I’m talking about all ages. To be there for that, where he was born and to walk down the streets that he walked. And I’ll tell you, they still look the same, they really do. And to go to the Napels Spaghetti House and the Steubenville Bakery. It was a just truly awe inspiring for me and the people that came to the shows. It was quite something. The love that everybody has for Dean Martin is outrageous.

Toddstar: Well it’s crazy, but crazy in a good way, because you mentioned that you had 90 year-old people and you had 12 year old fans. That’s twofold, one, great music never dies and the same thing could be said for legends, legends never die Deana. As we’ve spoke on several times, your father is definitely a legend.  What about him, because we’ve talked about him personally and professionally, but, getting back to him professionally, what do you think about his professional rapport do you think gave him that longevity among his fans?

Deana: First of all I think it was just him as a human being, he was different from anybody you’ve ever met in your life. He had a temperament, he had a kindness and a sweetness and a wit, and of course, he always taught me to treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s how he was. He cared about people. He cared about everybody, he loved children, he loved to talk to people. He was accessible and there was something about the joy that he got from singing and entertaining, but he just had it. He cared about the people he was signing to or entertaining, and he never got puffed up about himself. I think maybe that’s one of the main things about him. He was like your friend, you felt safe with Dean Martin. I could hear in his voice when he would sing, I could see that he was smiling. It’s because it was a true love of what he did. You know, he said he prayers every day, he kept his St. Christopher around his neck and he had a rosary. He was just kind and sweet. But he managed his time. I don’t know how he did everything in his life, because that’s one of the things that I realized as I was going through that past year, the 100th year, and of course, when I was writing the book, Memories Are Made Of This, and had gone back to Steubenville, Ohio. To try and understand how he could have done that amount of work, that body of work and still was able to play golf, because that was something that he loved. He said, “Deana, you know the reason why I work is so that I can take care of you kids and play golf.” He loved that, he loved to be outdoors and get exercise. He was healthy. I still don’t believe that he smoked, thank God he stopped one day. There was just something about his personality and his heart and soul was in everything he did. But it was timing. He always showed up on time, he was always early for things and he’d managed to get everything in and do everything he did very, very well. He could sing, he could dance, he could act. Of course, he was a great athlete. He was a good family man. I just wish we that we had had more time with him… that I could have had more time with him, personally, one on one. The times that I would go with him to the driving range to watch him hit golf balls and he would show me how to hit the ball. He’d put his arms around me and he’d say, “Now bring the club back,” and he’d help me with the grip. He’d say, “Now swing through the ball, keep your head,” and I could smell his cologne, Woodhue by Faberge. I remember those moments, but he would take time to do things. I wish there was more time, but he was out there. You know, people have asked me, they say, “Thank you for sharing your dad with the world,” and that’s what we did. We shared my dad with the world, his music, his voice, his humor, all of his paleys. I was truly blessed, and he was blessed with that gorgeous voice and… he is set apart from all of the rest. There’s something about Dean Martin that will last forever. He is truly the king of cool.

Toddstar: He really is. We’ve talked about you and your voice and you’re always so humble. I love the fact that you make your father such a part of every interview, every show, every revue. With Destination Moon and Swing Street, you have built your own legacy that I personally – yes I loved what Dean did, but as I told you years ago, Destination Moon drew me in, that hooked me, and I’ve been your fan ever since. That said, what’s next for you? I’m waiting for a new release.

Deana: Well we are working on one now and I have to tell you, with what you just said, and thank you for saying that to me, about me. We just did five shows in a row, we just got back, at the Colony in Palm Beach and it was tough doing five shows and it was the week of Valentine’s Day and so it was a new show and all of the people that came and it was packed every night and it was just great. In fact, one night, this women had her 105th birthday party at my show, and you had to watch her… she was beautiful and she was signing all the songs. 105 years old, she came to my show for her birthday. The thing that was so amazing is going out after and talking to the people and some of the people didn’t even know about me and, I hate to say that, but they came and said, “Our friends brought us to you show, I didn’t really know much about you. I knew you were Dean Martin’s daughter.” One woman said, “But I was blown away with your show, it’s fantastic.” And I’m thinking, “Wow, how very nice for someone who wasn’t coming in to expect anything to be blown away,” it makes me feel that all this hard work that I’m doing is… personally, it feels great and it’s such a lot of hard work and it makes me realize what my dad went through. All those years and all those shows. All of the amount of work that he put into it to make it look so easy. So now, with my music and with my albums and all of that and the people are being able to enjoy my music and my arrangements, it’s very gratifying, to me, and we have a lot of things on the horizon. Of course, we are still in the middle of the Dean Martin Documentary. We were doing it, we have, thank God we got to interview Florence Henderson, and Bob Newhart, and George Slaughter, Tommy Tune, Angie Dickinson, Regis Philbin. Those are the ones that… let me see, who else, Lee Hale. We’ve interviewed, I think, quite a few people. I still have to do mine and we have many more people we’re interviewing so that we can document dads extraordinary life and the impressions and the stories that people he worked with were able to tell us. That’s exciting. We’re still making my book into a movie, new producers and we’ve had another production meeting and probably we’re going to take it to Broadway, and I have the new album that is coming out. I had to narrow down the songs to – because I have, and I think I told you the last time what I was doing Destination Moon, there are about 300 hundred songs that I want to do right away but we have to narrow it down, narrow it down and so we’re in the process of doing that.  Just, so busy going around all over the country doing the shows and I love doing that, it’s really a lot of hard work in putting it together, but I have great musicians. My handsome husband John is unbelievable and he puts it all together, does it, and thank God we get to travel around together. It’s 280 days on the road, so it’s pretty nutty. But for me, learning new songs, writing new songs, going into the recording studio, it’s all just part of it and it’s what I love to do, it’s what I was meant to do and I’m grateful for interviews like this, so that we can get on the air and spread the music and spread the love. You know, the world’s going through a lot of stuff right now and for me to be able to be a little bit of sunshine and bring a great memories, bring back fabulous memories to people and make new memories for them, I’m excited. I wake up every day just excited to learn something new, go someplace new and entertain people, and that’s what it’s all about for me.

Toddstar: Again, with everything Dean did, and especially his catalog musically, you could record album, after album, after album, and never put together a new song.

Deana: I know, it’s true. That’s why when I do my show Deana sings Deano, there’s an unlimited amount of material for me to do. I believe the next album is going to be Deana Sings Deano. The show I’m doing in Staten Island on April 20th, it is a Deana sings Deano show and so that should be a lot of fun because his music was beautiful, and a lot of it was funny, but, his voice is so gorgeous and I have to do “La Vie En Rose”, and all of those beautiful songs that he did, I’m amazed at his body of work and his catalog. Of course, I have them all on my iPhone so I can sit there and have him 24 hours a day and he’s right there. I’m on the plane and I’m listening to him.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. My only hope is that, finally, and we’ve joked about this is that, I get to hear your version of “Go, Go, Go, Go.”

Deana: Oh that’s right, that’s right, I forgot. I’ve got to write that down again. We’re going to do that. That’s funny. Oh gosh.

Toddstar: That to me was always the ultimate Dean party song. That was just that song that you always felt good from the first note to the last.

Deana: Yes. Oh my gosh. There are a lot of those songs. There are songs that I love to sing that just make you feel good and that is going to be it. I end my show, most of the shows with “Bellisima” just because it’s such a hot song and it talks about dad, and that’s cute. But to leave the audience up and having a great time is a reward for me. It’s just everybody walks out and they go, “How do you have all that energy?” I say, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” I have all my paleys, I know I’ve got my dad up there, and he and Uncle Frank and Uncle Sammy, they’re all there saying, “Go girl. Go, go, go.”

Toddstar: You definitely draw something from him professionally. You’re very accessible to your fan base like he was, you’re very professional, but you enjoy the entertaining side of what you do.

Deana: That’s exactly it, I enjoy the entertainment part of it, I enjoy the humorist part of it, I enjoy watching the people respond. My video, when I was singing the duet with my dad for True Love. To watch the people… I mean I will… a lot of the times I can’t look at the video because then I’ll just all fall apart myself, but I’m looking at the audience while I’m signing the duet with him and a lot of them are crying, they’ve got their Kleenex out and after they come up and they go, “Oh my gosh, I loved that duet with your dad, it was beautiful and it was so touching.” It’s awesome for me, of course, to be able to sing with him, to do that beautiful, beautiful duet. That’s on the Destination Moon album.  I love entertaining, it’s what I was meant to do. I think I was made for this.

Toddstar: Oh definitely you’re made for this, definitely. Well the only thing left for me on my bucket list now is for John to book you a show at Andiamo’s up in this area.

Deana: That’s right. I’ve got to tell him that. He’s going to have to call.  Yeah. Andiamo’s, okay I’m writing that down. Because people have been calling John saying, “We’ve got to bring the show over here, we’ve got to bring the show over here.” We’ve been so, so busy that I think that’s one of the things that has gone by the wayside, but we’re going to give Joe and Roe a call and work that out. So I will just travel around doing my shows and it’s wonderful. I love the clubs, I, of course, love the symphony dates when I do things in DC for the veterans. It means so much. I was able to sing on Veterans Day in Washington, DC, I sang God Bless America for the Korean War veterans and the World War II veterans and it was just an awesome experience for me. To be there and it was, of course, a little scary, you’re singing “God Bless America” with all these World War II and Korean vets, it was just amazing. For me, for me personally, to be able to go and do these things is an honor. My father-in-law, Johns father, was in the Korean War and World War II and he’s buried at Arlington, so when we go there we always go to visit him. But this is an amazing world and I have an amazing life and as I say, I have been blessed with this. I was given a voice and I was given the perfect name.

Toddstar: I’ll tell you what, fans of yours, including me – as someone who’s been blessed because of the friendship you and I have been able to build over the years – and the friendship you’ve built with every one of your fans and it’s just amazing to be part of what you do. With that note, I’d like to wish you well on your travels. I’m hoping you can get in the studio and get that next record wrapped up because Swing Street is a couple years old now so we need some new stuff.

Deana: I know. How did that happen? I know, it just keeps going around. But we will do that and I thank you Todd for everything that you do and after I get off the phone I’m going to go tell John he’s got to call Andiamo’s.

Toddstar: Tell John we said hi and I’ll talk to you soon Deana.

Deana: Alright. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.






Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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