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The Unexpected Reason Dean Martin Changed His Name Multiple Times

Madeline Hiltz
(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images)

Dean Martin was the epitome of cool. From acting and singing to comedy, he truly did it all. However, we just found out that Dean Martin wasn’t Dean Martin’s real name. This begs the question – would Dean Martin have been as successful if he had stuck with his original name?

Dean Martin 1967
Dean Martin circa 1967. (Photo Credit: Martin Mills/ Getty Images)

On June 7, 1917, Dean Martin was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Gaetano Alfonso and Angela Crocetti. His birth name was Dino Paul Crocetti, and because he grew up in a very Italian family, he didn’t speak any English until he was five years old.

When Martin was 15, he took up boxing and billed himself as “Kid Crochet.” At the same time, he started singing with local bands, marketing himself as “Dino Martini” instead of going by his real name – Dino Crocetti.

Rat Pack
Dean Martin and his “Rat Pack” circa 1960. From left to right- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop outside Sands Casino in Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: GAB Archive/ Getty Images)

However, there was another popular singer at the time who used the name Nino Martini. Ultimately, the similarities between the two names led Dino Crocetti to change his name for the second time. Musician Sandy Watkins actually urged him to drop the “i” from Martini to become Dean Martin. The rest, as we know, is history.

So why did Dino Crocetti feel that he had to change his name to be successful? During the 1950s and 1960s, and even today, it is not uncommon for performers to adopt new names. During the 1950s especially, film studios often gave stars new names to erase any hint of national or ethnic difference.

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin (left) and Frank Sinatra (right), circa 1967. (Photo Credit: Martin Mills/ Getty Images)

Dean Martin wasn’t the only star during this era to adopt a new name. Rita Hayworth’s original name was Margarita Carmen Cansino, Doris Day was born Doris Kappelhoff, and Kirk Douglas’s birth name was Issur Danielovitch.

More from us: Dean Martin: The Rat Pack Star And Amateur Boxer Who Was Afraid Of Elevators

Celebrities today continue to change their names for a multitude of reasons. For example, singer Bruno Mars changed his name from Peter Gene Hernandez, and actor Jonah Hill changed his name from Jonah Feldstein.

Madeline Hiltz

Madeline Hiltz is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News