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DINO by Nick Tosches

DINO

Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams

By Nick Tosches

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-26216-7
Publisher: Doubleday

 Flamboyantly overwritten, saddest celebrity bio of the past decade. Dino Crocetti--Steubenville, Ohio, son of Italian immigrants, and an easygoing, untrained singer with lip-lazy diction--became Dean Martin early in his work with local bands, made it big in Manhattan as a solo act, and went over the top when teamed with a monkey named Jerry Lewis. The keynote of Martin's delivery, explains Tosches (Cut Numbers, 1988, etc.), was a relaxedness directed toward males but that had the ladies following him to bed like groupie mayflies--while he attracted Mafia heavy-hitters as well. Martin's pal Frank Sinatra held him in awe and envied his ease with the Mafia cafe-owners, but Dino couldn't care less about power, or much of anything. He kept Sinatra, as well as his own wives and children--everyone in fact--at arm's length emotionally, and, Tosches indicates, never in his life let one person into his most secret heart. He seemed largely devoted to golf. Gradually, Martin, at first a moderate drinker, developed a drunk act that became too real and at last took him over. After many years as the top draw on TV, he wound up hosting his celebrity roasts, a kind of gathering of the dead assembled from thousands of small splices of film. Martin is still alive, but a shadow in a breeze, withdrawn into watching westerns on TV. Tosches tells his story in a Niagara of grossness that at once strives for literary excellence while often falling into garble: ``The very songs that Sinatra and Dean sang...inspired lavish squandering among the countless men who would be them. It was the Jew-roll around the prick that rendered them ithyphallic godkins, simulacra of the great ones, in their own eyes and in the eyes of the tease-haired lobster-slurping bimbo sapiens they sought to impress.'' One-hundred-proof prose at its most scorching, and it will melt cash registers. (Thirty b&w photographs--not seen.)