Iconic Spotlight : Dean Martin, by Terry O’Neill

Dean Martin Backstage

“Dean Martin was a very shy man and it was hard for me to get a good photo of him, something unposed, to show a different side—the private side of a public persona. I really wanted to capture a moment of the private Dean Martin because he was the total opposite of what we all thought he was. I mean to say that he wasn’t a wise-cracking, always drunk bon vivant. He was quiet and utterly professional.”

Dean Martin rose to fame as the comedic partner of Jerry Lewis right after the end of World War II. Through their meteoric rise, Martin transitioned to more serious Hollywood film roles as well as establishing himself as a bestselling recording artist. Known for his famous Hollywood pals, dubbed ‘The Rat Pack’, along with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, they dominated a burgeoning Las Vegas scene.

“By this time, 1971, I had been working with Frank Sinatra on several of his films as his set photographer and I was endlessly fascinated by the personas these men created. From the outside, it looked like they were having a good time but could be tough guys when they needed to be. They were always surrounded by all sorts of people: security, friends, assistants, girlfriends. They were the first bunch of actors or singers to have what is known now as a posse. That’s the ‘Pack’ in ‘Rat Pack’. “To get the photo I wanted, I hid. That’s right; I went back to the dressing room and stood there as quiet as a mouse until I got the shot I wanted. Just the man at his dressing table, adjusting his tie, getting ready for another performance. Look at how perfect that table is—everything in its place, completely neat and tidy.”

filter search results by