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Dean Martin swings a golf club in order to stay loose on set of the film, Some Came Running, 1958.
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Dean Martin swings a golf club to stay loose on set of the film, Some Came Running, 1958.Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Dean Martin swings a golf club in order to stay loose on set of the film, Some Came Running, 1958.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, 1958.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, 1958.
Sammy Davis Jr. visits Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the set of Some Came Running, 1958.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, 1958.
Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.
Dean Martin with Shirley MacLaine, 1958.
Dean Martin listening to music at home, 1958.
Dean Martin in the steam room, 1958.
Tuning up for work, after steam bath, Dean dines on beef and beer before Sands act. With him are songsmith Sammy Cahn (seated) and helper Mack Gray.
Dean Martin, 1958.
Japing for Judy [Garland], Dean charges onto stage, followed by Sinatra. To make amends for heckling Garland from audience, they contributed their talents to act.
Dean Martin on stage, 1958.
Dean Martin on stage, 1958.
Dean Martin, 1958.
Dean Martin, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, 1958.
Playing host, Dean gives dinner at his Hollywood Dino's Lodge restaurant. The menu before guest Edith Adams has been altered by husband, Ernie Kovacs.
Dean Martin 1958
Dean Martin, Las Vegas, 1958
Dean Martin signing autographs, Las Vegas, 1958.
Dean Martin with his wife, Jeanne, 1958.
Dean Martin at home with his wife, Jeanne, 1958.
Dean Martin with Daughter, 1958
Dean Martin and family, 1958
Dean Martin and family, 1958
Poker pals in a table stakes game at Martin's home include (clockwise from Dean at left) agent Jerry Gershwin, Tony Curtis, Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs with 85-cent cigar, director Billy Wilder.
Dean Martin and son, 1958
Dean Martin, Milton Berle
Dean Martin with his wife, Jeanne, at home, 1958.
LIFE magazine, Dec. 22, 1958.
LIFE magazine, Dec. 22, 1958.
LIFE magazine, Dec. 22, 1958.
LIFE magazine, Dec. 22, 1958.
Dean Martin swings a golf club to stay loose on set of the film, Some Came Running, 1958.
Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Dean Martin: Rare and Classic Photos of a Laid-Back Legend

May 22, 2014

In the early- to mid-1960s, Dean Martin emerged as one of the most popular entertainers on the planet, starring in major films, knocking the Beatles off the top of the charts with what would become his trademark tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody," defining an entire new genre of cool with Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack, starring in his own long-running TV variety show -- achieving all of this with the air of a man who had just woken from a nap and was still charmingly groggy.

In 1958, meanwhile, when the pictures in this gallery were made, Dino -- while famous as one-half of the Martin & Lewis comedy duo -- had not yet crossed over into genuine superstardom. But he was certainly enough of a draw that LIFE magazine devoted a photo-filled seven-page feature to the man they dubbed "Make-a-Million Martin."

[To] his skillfully used musical and comedy talents, he adds an ebullience that pervades everything he does. . . . Uninhibited, spry of mind and muscle, he maintains a state of relaxation that "makes Perry Como look like a nervous wreck."

Keeping carefree appears to be the common denominator of the many Martins -- showman, businessman, prankster, family man, self-styled hell-raiser and Hollywood social lion. In each role he works hard at making hard work look easy.

On what would have been his 97th birthday (b. June 7, 1917, in Steubenville, Ohio) LIFE pays tribute to one of show business' enduring -- and most laid-back -- legends.

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