Legend’s Daughter Brings Sentimental Show to Anthology

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:57

An Interview with Deana Martin

By Casey Pukl

Daughter of the legendary Dean Martin, Deana, is no stranger to the spotlight her father once held. An accomplished actress, singer, songwriter, and actress, Deana has dedicated her life not only to creating her own art but also to keeping her father’s legacy alive.

I had the chance to catch up with Deana and discuss everything from her book and upcoming film to her latest recording project scheduled for 2013! Read on to find out what she’s been up to and what San Diegans can look forward to about her upcoming show at Anthology tomorrow night!

CP: It’s amazing to see how much you’ve kept your father’s legacy alive. Can you talk a little about the show you’re bringing to Anthology?

DM: Excellent, first of all, I’m singing the greatest music ever made from the American Songbook, along with some of my father’s favorites songs like “Volare” and “That’s Amore” and “Memories are Made of This” along with tunes from my uncle, Frank Sinatra. There will be lots of stories and humor, and I’ll also have a video of my father and we’ll sing a duet together.

CP: That sounds amazing!

DM: Yes, it’s absolutely amazing, and there’s also home movies and photos that play while I’m singing, and the song is coming out on my next album— I mean CD [laughs]! It’s just a fun show with great music, fabulous musicians; Kelly Park is my musical director, and it’s just the kind of show that everyone wants to see.

I’m excited about coming to Anthology! It’ll be my first time playing there, and I’ve heard rave reviews from other musicians about the room. In fact, Steve Tyrell sent me a Facebook message saying he was looking forward to coming to the show so I’m excited about that. I’m a big fan of his. So I’m excited to combine this music, Anthology, and beautiful San Diego.

CP: You mentioned you have a new album in the works, can you tell me what will be on it?

DM: Yes, it’s coming out in 2013, there’ll be some original music on it of course, but I like to stick to the standards, and, well, the music I grew up with. I was so lucky in my life to know all these incredible singers, and they would all come over to our house: Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, even the Beatles came over [laughs]! I’m just so fortunate to have known all these people personally, and I’m going to continue on with this style of music, a little updated, new arrangements and so on, but it’s part of me.

CP: I’m sure that was such an amazing experience to have as a child.

DM: You have no idea! Of course, all of the stories are in the book I wrote “Memories are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes,” and we’re making that into a movie so I’m very excited about that. There’s so many things that I’m doing; I’m very very busy. And I love playing all different venues. I could be with the Orlando Symphony, an 88-piece orchestra, one night and then at Feinstein’s in NYC with my trio the next.

CP: This latest record you mentioned had some originals. Do you write  a lot of your own material?

DM: I have. I’ve written songs in the past, but haven’t recorded them. I sing them sometimes in my show. I have one that we’ll be recording that my handsome husband John wrote last year called, “May I Have This Dance” and it’s beautiful. A lot of exciting things are happening for me.

CP: Tell me a little bit about your writing process. How did you start writing your own material?

DM: A little thought will come to me, a tune, and I’ll go downstairs to our studio. We actually just bought a house in Branson, MO a few years ago, a little place to get away to. And of course, I’m surrounded by incredible photos of my father with Frank and Sammy and Bobby Darin and Nat “King” Cole, so I get inspiration from them. So someone might say a couple of words and I go “that would be a great song” and I’ll go to the piano and tinker with it a bit.

CP: Do you and your husband write together?

DM: Yes we do! My husband, he’s so cute, he stays up very late at night and the next day I’ll say, “Why are you up so early?” and he’ll say “Well, I’m still up, I was writing a song.” [laughs] So then we’ll work together on it. We’re 24/7, my husband and I, and it’s quite something to work with your husband so closely. We travel all over the country and all over the world together, and we’re both pilots— that’s something you may not know about me.

CP: Really? Airplane pilots?

DM: Yes, he’s had a pilot’s license for many years, and one day he said, “If something happens to me I’d like to know that you could land the plane,” and I said, “I’d like to know that too!” [Laughs] So I went to Justice Aviation in Santa Monica, and now I’m a licensed pilot, so “Come Fly With Me”!

CP: You know, I’ve never encountered an artist that says “Well, sometimes I write with my significant other.” It’s either “We work great together and do it all the time!” or “No! Not at all!”

DM: Oh yes, well, we don’t always agree, but he has great ideas and I have great ideas and we bounce them off each other and it works out. John and I are together so much that I know what he’s thinking or what he’s going to say and vice versa, so it works. I couldn’t be happier.

CP: Tell me a little bit about your book. Was it always a natural thing that you wanted to do?

DM: That’s an excellent question! I did always want to write a book, and probably 20-25 years ago I started thinking about it and the title would’ve been “Dad’s Rich, I’m Not” [laughs]. For me at the time, I’m going out for auditions, I was an actress, and would get down to the final two or three at these auditions and I can’t tell you how many times it would go to the other actress. I remember asking someone,”Well, what happened?”

He told me, “Well you know, you don’t need the job,” and I was thinking yeah I do need the job!

After my dad passed away (Christmas Day, 1995) we would go back to Steubenville, OH, where he was born, and have a celebration, like a Dean Martin Day every year. I got to talk to a lot of his old friends that still lived there, and it was quite something to see how poor the town was. I had never seen something like that. Walking down cement streets with cracks in them or going to the Naples Spaghetti House where my dad ate, or the Steubenville Bakery where he would get his bread. Interviewing my dad’s friends and hearing their stories about him gave me this idea that I had to write this book and share this. Of course his stories are interesting and my stories also, coming from a divorced the family, so there’s ups and downs, so it was important to me to write about this so that people knew what really went on, and how we got through things. We lost my brother Dean Paul, he was a captain in the Air National Guard, and his plane went down in 1987, and it was tragic. You’re not supposed to lose your brother, and I lost a sister too. It’s what happens in everyone’s lives, but I thought it was important and interesting and people have loved the book.

CP: Was the book very difficult for you to write?

DM: It was a labor of love. There were parts that were very difficult, other parts were just a breeze, but I sat at the dining room table, not a computer, and I had my yellow legal pad and a recorder, and I would write things and tell stories into the recorder. As I was telling one story that triggers another in my head, and then when you get to the difficult parts in your life that can be quite hard. I interviewed friends of my dad  also, so it became a very difficult, long process. In the end, though, it was cathartic, it was fun and it was scary but we got through it.

CP: After writing this book at remembering these stories about your father and your own life, what would you say is your favorite part about your career at this point?

DM: It’s really a dream come true. I’ve always been creative and thank God that my parents were able to send me to ballet lessons and drama school and art college, but for me, walking out after a show, and shaking hands with the people and listening to their stories is sometimes overwhelming for me. But to see that I’ve done all this in my career and be able to realize my dream, it’s such hard work. and the feeling of being on stage and getting the love back from the audience. I know some people aren’t familiar with my work and are coming to see Dean Martin’s daughter, which is A-OK with me because he was such an incredible influence in my life and everybody’s life with his voice and charisma, and I’m just happy to keep that alive and to get the response that I get after every show. And I say to myself this is why you were born Deana, this is what I was meant to do. I’m a mother, a grandmother, a wife, I’m all of that. So how lucky am I to go through life and learn these lessons and still get to do something that brings me pleasure and brings pleasure to other people as well.

CP: Sounds like we’re in for a great show.

DM: You’re going to love it. You’ll walk out feeling better. I walk out every time feeling better!

Special thanks to Deana for her time! Be sure to come on out and see her very special show tomorrow night!
Deana Martin on Spotify

WHAT: Deana Martin
WHEN: Wednesday, July 25, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $12-$44 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile