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Dean Martin

The night I had to call the police

Dean Martin at his home in Beverly Hills in 1987. Eddie Sanderson/Getty Images

The Rat Pack were easily characterised, says Keiran Southern in The Times. Frank Sinatra was the tough guy, “a friend of mobsters who had a voice to die for”; Sammy Davis Jr was the nice guy, “a stellar talent confined by racial prejudices of the day”; and Dean Martin was the drunk. But according to a new documentary, King of Cool, Martin was not as he seemed.

“Drinking – that was his gimmick,” his daughter Deana tells the New York Post. Martin faked his boozy persona by filling his glass with apple cider and pretending it was whisky. Behind closed doors the father of eight was a straightforward family man – most of the time, he just wanted peace and quiet. At Deana’s rowdy 18th birthday party in 1966, Martin called the police, pretending to be an angry neighbour. He hoped they’d crash the party so he could get some sleep. But the police recognised his voice immediately. “They just said, ‘OK, Mr Martin, we’ll be right over.’” To which Martin replied: “No, I’m not Mr Martin, I’m an irate neighbour.”

He was principled too. In 1961, after John F Kennedy’s election victory, the new president invited Sinatra and Martin to his inauguration – but not Davis. He had married a white woman, and JFK was worried that the presence of an interracial couple would upset Southerners. Martin, in solidarity with his bandmate, refused to go. “It didn’t matter what JFK or anyone else was going to think of him. This is Sammy Davis Jr and that was his friend,” says Deana. “He just said, ‘It’s not right. I’m not going.’ And that was it. He wouldn’t think about it any more.”

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