Twenty years ago on Christmas Day, Dean Martin passed away. The iconic crooner’s daughter Deana Martin tells Closer that she stills feel his presence around her – and remembers the generosity and traditions he had over the holidays.
“Christmas was always a very special time for us,” Deana tells Closer. “We’d go down to the train tracks in Los Angeles and pick the biggest Christmas tree we could find and bring it home. Then my dad would get a huge ladder and string up all the lights, and we’d decorate the tree.”
Deana tells Closer that her father hosted a Christmas Eve party with their Beverly Hills neighbors and then would bring the whole family to the midnight Mass at the Good Shepherd Church each year.
“In the morning, we’d get up and Santa would’ve come,” remembers Deana. “We’d come downstairs to even more presents, and my parents would watch us unwrap all the gifts — it was a fabulous time.”
Dean’s own beloved mother, Angela, also died on Christmas Day, 29 years before Dean himself succumbed to emphysema.
Dean in 1955. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Deana tells Closer that she later found a special way to honor her grandmother's memory, “When I was 9 or 10 years old, she taught me her secret recipe for pasta fagioli, and years after she passed away, I was trying to figure out what I could get my dad, and it came to me: I’ve got to make pasta fagioli! I put a big red bow on a jar and took it to his house, and the look on his face was amazing. I made it for him for years.”
His takes on "Let It Snow" and "Silver Bells" remind his family that he is with them. “I can walk into a restaurant or a mall, and I’ll hear him singing Christmas songs,” Deana tells Closer. “So he’s there with us, he’s part of us, and it’s like he never left.”
For more on Dean Martin, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!