The Dean Martin Association
When THE DEAN MARTIN ASSOCIATION started in 1960, our intention from day one was not for us to be the standard 'common or garden' society.
This was in part due to Dean Martin's influence. He wanted us to be primarily a news and information service. He had his own secretary and the record label and film studios he was signed with to make announcements to the industry of course, but it was getting the information to the public that Dino was keen to encourage. News, view, information and facts were the order of the day: DMA president Bernard H Thorpe and his staff collated all the new and contemporary information that was coming over from Dino's offices in Hollywood for inclusion in a monthly bulletin, titled (at least initially) Letter From Dino.
It had been Bernard's desire to want to know as much as he could about Dino since he first saw the entertainer starring alongside Jerry Lewis in one of their then-latest pictures. It was Dino's voice and visual presence that impressed young Bernard, so he set about trying to find out all he can about him. There were a number of fan clubs dotted around the world that seemed very hit and miss in responding to enquiries or even supplying details and this gave Bernard the impetus to do something himself. After all, Bernard mused, he couldn't have been the only person in the world desperate to discover more about Dean Martin!
Bernard started writing to Capitol and Paramount in the mid-1950s, directly asking for Dino's permission to set up some form of organization to promote his career across the world. Letter after letter, with no reply or acknowledgement. Then, one day in the summer of 1960, a slim white envelope address to Bernard arrived in the post. Across the top left-hand corner, embossed in gold, was the simple moniker 'Dino'.
The letter, from Dino's then-secretary Lois Green, was brief and to the point. It had the same embossed moniker at the top left of the heavy paper. It gave Bernard permission to set up an organization. Another letter followed, again with 'Dino' in gold in the corner, this time from the man himself, saying thank you, that he was pleased that Bernard was so interested in supporting his career and promising that he and his office would do all they can to help. He said to Bernard that he'd agreed because he, Bernard, had been '...so damn insistent.'
And so, in November 1960, The International Dean Martin Club was born. The membership of the club rapidly expanded across the globe and our relationship with Dino, our chairman, grew. He was regularly in direct contact with Bernard, updating us on his latest studio sessions, forthcoming projects, filming dates and so on. He would often call Bernard late on a Sunday, usually from his dressing room at NBC. On a number of occasions Dino and Bernard did meet to discuss the DMA and to socialize together. In the early 1970s, Dino changed our name to THE DEAN MARTIN ASSOCIATION, reinforcing our position as ambassadors for his life and career. Every month without fail Letter From Dino was dispatched from our London office. Our global subscribers numbered in their thousands.
Our reputation grew incredibly quickly and we soon developed an amazing working relationship with both Capitol and Reprise, being consulted on and/or co-producing 15 compilation albums/re-releases of Dino's recordings between 1964 and 2003. We were also the go-to guys for the various film studios to help with the promotion of any number of Dino's movies. Our greatest achievements were getting the single 'Gentle On My Mind' and the album 20 Original Hits to the top of the UK charts in 1968 and 1976 respectively. We also had major success with The Classic Dino in 1979 and The Best of the Capitol Years in 1989.
In the late 1980s we became far more autonomous as Dino's interactions and contact with us (and those of his office) eventually started to wane. He would write to us sporadically until March 1995, after which his health declined considerably. He died on Christmas Day that same year, but not before he gave us written permission to write his life story. The newsletters continued in earnest (in 1987 re-titled Just Dino) until we ceased being a membership-based organization in 2011. We published the final newsletter, our 415th, in July that year.
THE DEAN MARTIN ASSOCIATION has been consulted on a number of high-profile Rat Pack tribute shows over the years, and we are honored to have had a long-term fruitful working relationship with The Definitive Rat Pack, Europe's foremost cabaret act.
In 2017 to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday, Dino's life story was finally published by Chinbeard Books as Just Dino - A Recollection of Dean Martin (by Bernard H Thorpe with Elliot Thorpe). Sadly, Bernard had passed away in 2015, never seeing his biography in print. It was expanded and re-released in 2018 as Dean Martin Recollections (by Bernard H Thorpe and Elliot Thorpe) and is available in hardback from all good bookstores and online. More titles followed from 2020 onwards, this time published by the DMA itself, opening up our extensive archives to celebrate our SEVEN DECADES in existence: Dean Martin's Movie Moments Scrapbook (compiled and edited by Elliot Thorpe); Dean Martin - A Discography (Bernard H Thorpe) and For The Good Times: A Dean Martin Compendium (compiled and edited by Elliot Thorpe). They are available from Amazon or from our online shop on our website. Further publications are currently in the works.
Our podcasts, produced by Shaken Not Stirred Productions, began in 2018 on Soundcloud.
In 2022, we also started a long-term working relationship with a number of Dino's original, surviving Golddiggers, producing original content for our official YouTube channel.
While we are immensely proud to have once been for so many years the only source world-wide for reliable news and information about Dino (long before the age of the all-knowing, all-seeing internet), we still exist to continue to keep his name in the public consciousness as best we can. THE DEAN MARTIN ASSOCIATION is a non-profit, non-subscription organization now. Elliot, Bernard's only son, is in the driving seat with unalloyed assistance from Ron Iveson.
Dean Martin's legacy is eternal and our role as ambassadors has not waned in the slightest. We are pleased that Dino's music and that of his peers still delights and brings joy to so many people.
We are delighted too to now be part of The Rat Pack Music Alliance and to sit on the Alliance Advisory Board.
It is apparent too as to exactly how much time, effort and love Bernard put into supporting Dino and keeping the DMA running, especially through the lean years when there was little if any news to report. We cannot thank enough Dino's record labels and his family and our loyal members for their support over the years. It's also clear from friends and associates of THE DEAN MARTIN ASSOCIATION that the love and adoration for Dino goes far and wide even today, some three decades after his passing.
That's amore, indeed.
Please visit deanmartinassociation.com.