Both Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra Lost Loved Ones in Tragic Plane Crashes

You’ve likely heard of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, as they were two of the most popular singers of their day. Sinatra set a standard for rising stars to top in later years, and Dean Martin was such a celebrity that Bob Dylan has covered his music for hit TV shows.

Sadly, these two icons have more in common than just their careers in music and film. Let’s take a look back on the two, how their lives converged, and the tragedy they both shared. 

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra ready to shoot a scene together
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the set of The Dean Martin Show | Martin Mills/Getty Images

Frank Sinatra had an incredible career

Biography.com details Frank Sinatra as always loving the arts. He began singing at local nightclubs in the ’30s, and after receiving attention from bandleader Harry James, was asked to join Tommy Dorsey’s band. The rest seemed to be smooth sailing for Sinatra, as he enjoyed hit after hit, until deciding to go out on his own.

His solo career earned him recognition for his dreamy voice, which encouraged him to try film. He was also a natural in film, and while his career ebbed and flowed, he always remained a household name. Enter the mid ’60s, the Rat Pack, and Sinatra’s relationship with Dean Martin. 

Dean Martin’s legendary career

Biography.com details Dean Martin as being born Dino Paul Crocetti. He was a bit of a troublemaker as a teen, but always enjoyed music.

Martin also began singing in nightclubs and was eventually noticed by Cleveland bandleader Sammy Watkins, who he toured with until he changed his name in 1940.

Eventually, he struck record deals, landed a radio show, and began acting in television shows. He achieved success through all of these venues, as he loved entertaining. He eventually found his way to the Rat Pack and to Frank Sinatra. 

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra became great friends

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Have you heard of the Brat Pack? Well, the term was inspired from a different group of performers. Vital Vegas associated the original Rat Pack with Las Vegas and a group of famous friends, being Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lewis, and Cesar Romero.

The origins of the name are not known, but the term later was recycled to fit a different collection of young, male artists. This group included Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, though they didn’t use the term. They preferred “The Summit”, or “The Clan.”

Interestingly, John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law was part of this group, and Kennedy would often hang around Vegas and party with the guys. In Las Vegas, when one member of the Rat Pack was scheduled for a performance, the other members might show up to join along and hype up the crowd. This led Martin and Sinatra to perform together often. 

Tragedy strikes the two friends at different times 

The Rat Pack had a roaring good time in Vegas. They drank, joked around, performed, and even appeared together in Ocean’s Eleven. Unfortunately, fate played a cruel hand with both Sinatra and Dean.

In 1987, Dean Martin’s son, Dean Paul Martin, died in a plane crash on the San Gorgonio Mountains in California. 10 years earlier, however, Sinatra’s mother died the exact same way. From a plane crash on the same mountain range. 

Both of the men were able to work through their tragedies, but were profoundly impacted by the events. The Las Vegas Sun reported that Sinatra actually performed the same night his mother was killed, hoping the plane was simply late and believing the show must go on. While both of their names will go down in history, this shared tragedy likely shaped their friendship and history.