Dean Martin was one of the great Italian-American entertainers of the mid-20th century. His catalog of pop songs, his movie career, and his television shows were entertainment to millions of people in the post-World War II era, and gave Italian-Americans something to be proud of in the changing world. Unlike other Italian-American singers of his generation, Dean Martin always kept his Italian roots alive: his “That’s Amore” was an alltime success, and he also sang a verse of his popular recording “Return to Me” in Italian. His effortless vocalizing has become modern shorthand for “cool,” as evidenced by the use of his songs in films, television, and ad campaigns. He brought a slurred, insinuating sensuality to the intimate crooning style popularized by Bing Crosby and Perry Como. While he was never considered a pop-song style originator, once saying he “copied Bing Crosby 100 percent,” he was the link between Crosby’s and Como’s relaxed crooning style and the soft, sultry side of Elvis Presley, who named him a boyhood idol, and whose ballad hits like Love Me Tender copied his bedroom-voiced diction.
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