Deana Martin: “Sempre Musica”: Always Music

Dino's Daughter Keeps the Music Going

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Cookie: Hi Deana, first of all, I’d like to thank you for taking time from your hard working and hectic schedule to do this interview. Like everyone else in the world, I’m a big fan of your illustrious father, Dean Martin.

More than most singers he had a continuous string of hit songs. Which brings me to my first question. I know this is a tough one, with so many wonderful songs to choose from, is there one particular song that your Dad recorded that means the most to you, or perhaps one that touches you deeply when you sing it in your own hit show.

Deana: That’s an easy one, my dad’s version of “True Love” written by Cole Porter. Dad recorded it in 1960 – Nelson Riddle was the arranger and conductor. I was very fortunate to be able to record that song as a duet with my father. My husband found the original hand-written arrangement by Nelson Riddle and the rest is history. Every time I sing that song on stage it’s an overwhelming feeling and an important part of my Show and life.

Cookie: Your dad was the father of 7 children, with you being number 4 in that line up. Did you find that you had to try harder to get your dad’s attention? Is that one reason you developed your singing voice and became a frequent guest on the Dean Martin show?

Deana: We all had our father’s attention … he was great that way. But as far as singing goes and developing my own voice, I believe it’s in my DNA. I was born to do this.

Dean and Deana Martin. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.
Dean and Deana Martin. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.

Cookie: One of your most popular albums was, “Memories Are Made Of This.” It features songs made famous by your dad, Dean Martin and a couple of his good pals, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis. Did recording these songs, so familiar to another generation of fans, give you a little pause for thought? Did you have any doubts they would turn out to be so receptive and so adoring in their response to you?

Deana: Thank you for saying that. I was pretty confident that people were going to embrace my versions for a few reasons. First, I surrounded myself with the very best. The producers, arrangers, engineers and musicians, all A-listers. Second, the songs are classic and timeless. Lastly, the memories people have of these songs make them smile.

Cookie: Could you tell my readers what it was like for you to have grown up with the biggest names in show business as your family friends … and your own playmates. You were surrounded by the most talented funny men, the greatest singers, and actors and all their families.

Deana: I grew up in the middle of the greatest era in history for cool – elegant, stylish fantastic entertainers – songwriters – directors, producers, artists, musicians. They were friends of my family, I learned from them. I was very lucky to be around at that moment in time.

Cookie: With your singing career thriving, and booking dates stacked up far ahead you do a lot of traveling for your personal appearances. Is there any one city, place or type of audience you like best? And do you plan to do a European tour in the future?

Deana: Each venue is different and exciting. I feel at home with a symphony, a big band or my amazing quintet. Every audience is different, special and responsive. I love the ‘Jazz Clubs’ because it’s more intimate. To be blunt … I just like to sing and entertain, no matter where it is.

We are planning a European Tour right now.

Deana Martin. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.
Deana Martin and band. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.

Cookie: You have performed on stage, and screen … making your film debut in 1968’s “Young Billy, Young,” a classic western genre co-starring Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson.

Deana: It was just on TV the other night. My husband and I got a kick out of seeing it.

Cookie: You carved an early career for yourself in TV’s The Dean Martin Summer Show (1966), films such as, Strangers at Sunrise (1969) and Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis (2011) Later you played a more serious role in the film, “A Voice In The Night” co-staring Italy’s famous Veto Scottie.

Deana, If the right part came along would you cut back on the singing and traveling to star in a film or a television series? If so, what type of film or TV character would you most like to portray.

Deana: Theatre, TV and film are all options I would entertain. I’d love to play “the bad guy” sometime.

Cookie: A while back, you wrote a touching autobiography titled, “Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes” It was a fascinating insight to your private world with your dad and unique family life. News has just reached the media that your book will be made into a film this year staring Joe Mantegna and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Like all your fans, I was thrilled to hear this news. Very impressive … Is there anything more you can tell your fans about this latest and most exciting project?

Deana: We are extremely excited and just had our second production meeting. What a great team we have. I guarantee the movie will be interesting, insightful, touching, funny and sad, uplifting and respectful, very entertaining.

Cookie: Deana, what’s next on your busy schedule? I’m sure your fans would love to know where they could see you performing next and if you have a new CD available.

Deana: At this moment we are working on 2 albums. I was so busy these past few years I didn’t have time to get back in the studio. I love recording and creating beautiful music.

Cookie: Thank you Deana, this has been an extreme pleasure talking with you and I thank you for sharing your personal life with your fans. Before we close the interview, I’d like to ask you a question I always ask my friends who enjoy the Italian fare. The last question is always about food … what is your favorite home made Italian dish and can you create it all by yourself?

Deana: Pasta Fagioli, my grandmother’s recipe, I make it all the time. (SEE RECIPE)

Thank you Cookie, you always ask the best questions. It’s a pleasure to chat with you

Grandma Angela’s Pasta Fagioli

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2(15-ounce) cans cannelloni beans

6 cups of water

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

(HER SECRET INGREDIENT)

8 ounces tubetini pasta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for a minute. Add the two cans of beans with the six cups of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cinnamon, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Simmer very slowly. Check occasionally and add boiling water as necessary. Add the pasta and continue simmering until the pasta is al dente. Remove from heat and serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

– Serves Four –

Deana Martin Destination Moon. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.
Deana Martin, Destination Moon. Photo courtesy Deana Martin.

Source: Book “Memories Are Made Of This: Dean Martin Through His Daugther’s Eyes” – 2004

Cookie Curci is an experienced freelance writer, born and raised in San Jose, California. Cookie writes syndicated columns across the country, and wrote a “Remember When” column for The Willow Glen Resident for 15 years. Her work has been published in 15 Chicken Soup for The Soul books, and in the series of “Mother’s Miracle” books ( Morrow books).

She has a short story in the new book “ELVIS”, Live at the Sahara Tahoe; has been published in San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury news, Woman’s World, Primo magazine, Mature Living, and many websites.

Cookie is currently writing for several Italian American newspapers and magazines, they include LaVoce Las Vegas, Amici Journal, L’italo Americano, Life in Italy and Italiansrus.