Known for his performance alongside John Wayne in the film Rio Bravo and for his time working with comedian Jerry Lewis, Rat Pack member Dean Martin has gone down in history as one of the most consistent luminaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Because of this, it may shock some viewers to learn that Dean arguably could’ve stayed with us for longer than he did. Join Facts Verse as we explore why Dean Martin said NO to life-saving surgery.
Dean Martin Wasn’t Born Cool
Dean Martin rose to prominence as the “King of Cool” in Hollywood, and there were few bigger celebrities during the industry’s Golden Age. Dean certainly knew how to keep his cool, and he also knew how to keep a secret. The entertainment was a man of mystery, and there are many things that it still surprises fans to learn about the actor, comedian, and crooner. For one thing, did you know that “Dean Martin” wasn’t his real name? At the time of his birth, the man that would come to be known as Dean Martin was christened Dino Paul Crocetti. During the early days of his career in entertainment, Dean changed his name to Dino Martini. It was a bandleader by the name of Sammy Watkins that allegedly came up with the name of Dean Martin.
Dean Martin became known to the world by his famous stage name in 1940, and he subsequently took the world by storm. However, before becoming an entertainer, Dean flirted with becoming a famous boxer. Under the name of “Kid Crochet”, Dean apparently fought a dozen professional fights before becoming better known in Hollywood. Out of that dozen, Dean claimed that he won 11 of them. He began boxing at the age of 16, and was considered a welterweight.
There were numerous reasons that Dean Martin decided to give up his pursuit of becoming a famous boxer. For one thing, he felt that the sport didn’t pay well enough. For another thing, he found himself routinely getting injured. Dean was said to have broken his nose multiple times during his boxing days, and some blame these injuries for the nose job that the actor would undergo later in his life. During his boxing days, Dean lived in New York City and shared an apartment with future professional wrestler Sonny King. According to legend, the two figures would invite people over to their apartment to watch them fight. People allegedly paid good money to watch Dean and Sonny fight in their apartment. The two would bareknuckle box until one was knocked out. Surprisingly, the person that was knocked out was typically Sonny King. In fact, Dean would publicly beat Sonny during one of his amateur boxing matches.
Dean Was a Man of Many Surprises
It’s surprising that Dean Martin got the upper hand on Sonny King given that Sonny was the one to go on to have a career as a professional wrestler whereas Dean went on to become an entertainer. Another thing that it may surprise fans to learn about Dean Martin is the fact that the beloved actor and crooner adored comic books. When it came to reading in general, Dean wasn’t the biggest fan. According to the man himself, the only legitimate book that he had ever read during his lifetime was Sleeping Beauty. However, comic books were a different story entirely. Dean loves comic books so much that he was a little ashamed of it. Apparently, during the time that Dean was working with comedian Jerry Lewis, the crooner would coax his friend to go to the store and buy comic books for him so he wasn’t caught in the act.
It’s quite a coincidence that Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis bonded over comic books, as the two would go on to become stars of their own! In the 1950s, DC Comics brought the iconic comedic duo of Martin and Lewis into the medium of comic books with The Adventure of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The comic-book series ran for 40 issues, and the only reason that it came to an end was that Dean and Jerry decided to end their partnership. After the partnership ended, the comic book continued being published for a time with Jerry Lewis as the sole main character. The Adventures of Jerry Lewis then ran for a total of 83 more issues.
Dean Martin was a man that was aware of the fact that his public persona and his true self were always going to be two different things. The entertainer often exploited this fact to his advantage, which is a big part of how he came to be known as the King of Cool. Dean knew exactly what image to project to win the crowd over, and one of the best tricks that the entertainer had up his sleeve was his persona as a “lovable drunk”. Dean rarely ever showed up on stage without a drink in his hand, and the audience always assumed that what was in the entertainer’s cup was alcohol. Dean played along with this, though the truth was that the man was always a responsible drinker. Dean took his fake image as a drunk so seriously that he even got a vanity license plate that said the word “DRUNKY”. It has been said that Dean was inspired to portray himself as a lovable drunk to the crowd by one of his influences, Joe E. Lewis.
Was Dean Martin Really a “Lovable Drunk”?
Dean loved to portray himself as a drunkard, but the truth of the matter was that he preferred eschewing late nights partying so that he could go to bed early and get up on time to play golf. Alcohol may not have been one of Dean’s great loves, but golfing certainly was. The entertainer was said to have loved golfing so much that he would oftentimes ditch rehearsals for his variety show so that he could get back out on the course. In fact, when The Dean Martin Show became a massive hit and it was time for Dean to renew his contract, he had a stipulation worked in wherein it was explicitly stated that he didn’t need to show up to rehearsals ever again.
Another surprising fact about Dean Martin is the fact that the entertainer was deathly afraid of elevators. This fear came as a result of his claustrophobia. Dean hated all closed spaces, but elevators became a major problem due to how much he travelled around. There were many, many instances over the course of the Rat Pack member career where he was forced to come face to face with an elevator, and he always decided to take the stairs instead. It didn’t matter how many floors of stairs the entertainer was going to have to walk so long as he didn’t feel trapped. This fear resulted in another unique contractual stipulation, this time stating that all of his hotel rooms be on the first floor.
At the age of 27, Dean Martin underwent his aforementioned elective surgery. There have been various guesses as to why the entertainer decided to get a nose job. Some say it was because of his boxing injuries, while others believe it was simply because he never liked the way that he looked. It was comedic performer Lou Costello that paid for the surgery, and the result was so subtle that many didn’t even notice a difference. Despite that Dean was ready and willing to undergo this elective surgery, there was a time later in his life when he would actually require surgery and refuse it.
Dean Martin Refused Life-Saving Surgery
Towards the end of his life, Dean Martin started quickly succumbing to years and years of chain-smoking. The entertainer allegedly started up the habit during his teenage years, and he didn’t give it up until he was at death’s door. Dean didn’t quit smoking until 1993, when he was 76 years old. The reason he quit was the he had been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, this effort was too little too late for the beloved actor, comedian, and crooner. He died a few years later.
As Dean Martin’s cancer was getting worse, doctors told him that there might be a way for him to significantly extend his lifespan. The doctors told Dean that there was a chance that if he underwent surgery on both his kidneys and his liver, there was a good chance that he would be able to beat the cancer. Shockingly, Dean refused to undergo the surgery. Because of this, the entertainer ended up dying sooner rather than later. It was in the early part of 1995 when Dean stopped making public appearance. By the end of the year, he was no longer with us. Dean passed away as a result of acute respiratory failure, and he did so on Christmas Day.
If Dean Martin’s death wasn’t tragic enough, the entertainer also had to suffer through the loss of one of his children during the time that his health was failing. This child was Dean Paul Martin, whom Dean had during his second marriage. Dean Paul was an aviator who was so passionate about flying that he received his pilot’s license at the age of only 16. In the 1980s, he began working with the California Air National Guard. It was during his time working professionally as a pilot that Dean Paul passed away. In the spring of 1987, Dean Paul Martin was in the middle of a routine training mission when something was severely wrong. An unexpected snowstorm blew in, and this caused Dean Paul to crash into a nearby mountain, killing him.
Dean Martin died with a fair amount of secrets, including the fact that he refused to undergo surgery that could’ve potentially extended his lifespan! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Dean Martin refused to undergo surgery that could’ve potentially saved his life, but he was totally fine with getting a nose job? Comment down below!