The Truth About Dean Martin’s Real Name

The child’s parents were Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, a barber from the Italian region of Abruzzo, and Angela Barra, an Abruzzese born in Ohio (per Italy Heritage). According to Il Post, they named their son Dino; he spoke only Abruzzese dialect until he started school at the age of 5.

The pressures of his two identities, Italian and American, were never more obvious than in his name. As Nomix explains, Dino is a common name in Italy, but rare in America; it quickly became Dean. Crocetti, too, confused people: How was it pronounced? When the young Dino/Dean attempted a boxing career in his late teens, he called himself Kid Crochet, as a nod to the pronunciation of his surname. Later, when he started singing in nightclubs, he called himself Dino Martini (via The Vintage News). It was a clever gag, a play on his Italian roots and the louche, hard-drinking persona he was quickly developing. There was a problem, though. An Italian tenor named Nino Martini had become popular in the U.S., and Dino Martini sounded too similar. A friend, musician Sandy Watkins, suggested Dean Martin; it would be Dean Martin, not Dino Crocetti or Dino Martini, who became a superstar.

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