Deana Martin knew from her childhood that she wanted to work in entertainment just like her father, the world-renowned singer, actor and infamous “roastmaster” Dean Martin.
“I was so attracted to it,” Deana said. “The singing, the dancing were all attractive to me.”
Growing up in her father’s heyday, Martin had a wealth of examples of what “making it big” in entertainment brought. Following in his footsteps would seem like a natural choice to make, but Dean encouraged his children to follow their own dreams.
“My dad, he was so sweet about things,” she said. “He wanted us to do whatever it is that we wanted to do, whatever that would make us feel good. Me, I got that entertaining gene.”
That entertaining gene drove Martin to make her own name in the industry, working in a wide variety of media.
The multitalented entertainer said her first break was her single, “Girl of the Month Club,” which opened doors for her. She has also worked in film and television – first appearing on “The Dean Martin Show” in 1966 – along with one of her first loves, theater.
Martin, who was trained at the Dartington College of Arts in the United Kingdom, said theater has always been one of her favorite media, noting that it gives the performer more license to add their own spin to another artist’s work.
“You’re doing someone else’s work, but you’re making it personal,” she said.
Recently, Martin has released several albums. Memories Are Made of This (2006) and Volare (2009) feature jazz, classic Italian songs, and some of her father’s tunes. All of the tracks are timeless, she said.
“They’re classic songs,” she gushed. “These were great writers. The melodies are beautiful and the words have meaning, they make sense.”
Nowadays Martin, 64, travels with her husband and producer, John Griffeth, about 280 days out of the year, touring and performing. In January, she traveled to Port St. Lucie to perform her Italian classics at the sixth annual Taste of Little Italy.
Hers is a nonstop job. There’s always an orchestra to book, repertoire to practice, performance to plan, or suitcase to pack.
“My dad always made it look so easy,” Martin ruefully said.
Still, the rewards are many, she added. The crowd’s reaction after the show is always gratifying.
“When I go out to sign autographs and CDs and … books, the stories people come up to tell me about my dad and what he meant in their life, it’s really, it’s overwhelming for me half the time,” Martin said. “And now the people are saying, ‘You brought me so much joy from your show.’ … It’s like a double plus for me.”