For Deana Martin, Christmas hasn’t arrived until she hears her father, Dean, singing, “It’s a Marshmallow World.” “You can just hear him smiling while he sings it,” she says.
The fourth of Dean’s seven children, Deana has the type of Christmas memories that could be the stuff of TV specials. Indeed they were—on NBC’s The Dean Martin Show from 1965-74. Those memories include times when “Uncle Frank” and “Uncle Sammy” would come to the house on Christmas Eve, and the time when the entire Sinatra and Martin broods united for the Dean Martin Christmas Special.
Deana has drawn from this past in creating a 2011 Christmas album, Deana Martin’s White Christmas, and the Deana Martin Christmas Show, which comes to The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz Dec. 14-16. The CD and the show blend classic Christmas tunes with fresh arrangements and Deana’s capable vocals. The album features holiday favorites sung by her father and his Rat Pack “pallies,” as well as a title-track duet with “Mr. Christmas” himself, the late Andy Williams. From the CD came the idea for the show, which gives audiences an intimate recounting of growing up in Hollywood’s Golden Era.
Deana’s favorite holiday memory of her father:
“We would go buy a huge Christmas tree, the tallest and fattest one we could find. My dad would get a very tall ladder and string all of the lights on it. Then we’d get out the decorations, and all the kids would decorate the tree.”
Midnight Mass with the Martins:
“After Mass, we would come home and each of us was allowed to open one gift.”
Dean’s Favorite Songs:
“He loved ‘Let it Snow,’ because it was written by his dear friend, Sammy Cahn. He also loved Mel Tormé’s ‘The Christmas Song.’”
On being joined by Williams on “White Christmas,” his last vocal recording:
“It’s been almost a year [since recording the song]. We perform that song now, and at the end when we wish each other a Merry Christmas. It just gets to me.”
Something Old, Something New:
“Part of the reason I did the album and am doing this show is to keep those memories alive. We had so much fun singing Christmas carols. And just to be with my Uncle Frank and dad, everybody together, it was very heart-warming and wonderful.”