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Dean and Jeanne Martin | Source: Getty Images
Dean and Jeanne Martin | Source: Getty Images

Dean Martin’s Wife Died Only a Few Weeks after Their Second Son Was Found Dead at His Home

Gaone Pule
Dec 21, 2023
02:45 P.M.

Legendary entertainer Dean Martin's family had barely begun to cope with one heartbreaking loss when they faced the family matriarch Jeanne Martin's death at 89.

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Before Jeanne Martin entered the picture, Dean Martin was married to Elizabeth Anne McDonald, with whom he shared four children: Craig, Claudia, Gail, and Deana. In 1949, they decided to call it quits, and that same year, the actor found himself in love with another woman, Jeanne Martin.

Jeanne, a famous model, became the second wife of the "Rio Bravo" actor. In 1951, they welcomed their first son, Dean, followed by Ricci in 1953 and Gina in 1956. Sadly, their relationship ended in divorce as they separated in 1973.

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Jeanne's Life

Before her family life with Martin, she was born Dorothy Jean Biegger in Coral Gables, Florida. She began her career early as a young model and changed her name to Jeanne.

When she was 22, Jeanne married Martin after falling in love during a New Year's Eve show in 1949 and ended up accepting her husband's four children, Claudia, Craig, Gail, and Deana, raising them as her own.

Dean and Jeanne Martin candidly photographed while attending an event together. | Source: Getty Images

Dean and Jeanne Martin candidly photographed while attending an event together. | Source: Getty Images

Following their separation, the entertainer went on to marry Catherine Hawn. While they did not have any children together, he adopted his third wife's daughter, Sasha, in the early days of their union.

On the other hand, Jeanne remained single for the rest of her life. She got close to her ex-husband because of their son Dean Paul's death, and their relationship remained this way until the entertainer died in 1995.

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One Tragedy after the Other

Jeanne passed away from cancer at the age of 89 in 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. However, it wasn't the first tragedy the Martin family faced. Only three weeks prior, Jeanne's second and youngest son, Ricci, also died.

Ricci, a musician and entertainer like his father, was also found dead at his home in Utah. Although he was only 62 at the time of his passing, Ricci achieved a lot by following in his famous father's footsteps. In the '70s, he released his single "Stop, Look Around" and the album "Beached."

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Throughout the '90s, he would perform at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, among other clubs, alongside Billy Hinsche and Desi Arnaz Jr. He also authored a book, "That's Amore" in 2002 that focused on his life growing up. Ricci was survived by his three daughters, Rio, Montana, and Pepper.

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His daughter Pepper appeared on ABC's "Claim to Fame" in 2022, which features 12 celebrity relatives who compete to reveal who they are each related to.

Family meals were everything to the actor, who always tried to eat with his family despite his busy schedule.

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Dean Paul's Demise

Sadly, Ricci wasn't the only son Jeanne lost before her death. In March 1987, her eldest son, Dean, was killed while piloting a Phantom fighter jet for the Air National Guard. He died at the age of 35 in the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles.

Dean began his career as an actor, starring in the 1985 shows "Misfits of Science" and "A Single Man," but behind the scenes, he was a man with a passion for flying. He once said, "The high I get seeing the sun come up is so great that if I die, it would have been worth it."

Actor and singer Dean Martin at home with his wife Jeanne Biegger between shoots for "Jumping Jacks" in 1952. | Source: Getty Images

Actor and singer Dean Martin at home with his wife Jeanne Biegger between shoots for "Jumping Jacks" in 1952. | Source: Getty Images

Unfortunately, his words became the irony of his downfall. He died while flying the middle jet in a line of three Phantoms together with Captain Ramon Ortiz, 39, his weapons officer from Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time, Sgt. Carolyn Hamilton, an Air National Guard spokeswoman, revealed, "Capt. Dean Paul Martin and Capt. Ramon Ortiz perished instantly at the time of impact." Their remains were airlifted off the mountain.

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After his death, his father shared how the family was coping in an interview, saying they still talked about him. Martin further explained when his son passed away, he had ten days left to open in Las Vegas and told his loved ones that he could not go back to work. However, three days later, he changed his mind.

The Martin Children

Jeanne's only remaining child, Gina, is in her 60s. Like her parents and other siblings, she was gifted with a beautiful voice that jump-started her career. She later married The Beach Boys co-founder Carl Wilson.

Meanwhile, Martin's children with his first wife also followed in his footsteps. His eldest son, Craig, pursued a career as a Hollywood production manager and producer, working on shows like "The Dean Martin Show," "The Juke Box Jury," and "A Family Thing."

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His daughter, Claudia, became an actress and starred in "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini," "Ski Fever," and "For Those Who Think Young." Sadly, her life was cut short when she passed away in 2001 at 56.

Martin's daughter, Gail, also had her fair share of acting stints but did not pursue the career further. There is also not much information about Gail available to the public.

Deana, on the other hand, became a singer and actress, appearing in movies such as "Young Bill Young," "Davi's Way," and "Strangers at Sunrise," among others. In 2006, she released her first album, "Memories Are Made of This."

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Dean Martin's Life

Martin was a household name in the '60s and '70s, working on "The Dean Martin Show," which won him a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star – Male. He then hosted "The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast," where he and some friends would talk about a celebrity from that era. According to Deana, "he spent his whole life talking and entertaining -- and he was just so funny -- so sometimes he just wanted to be quiet."

One of his favorite things to do was spend Sundays playing golf, followed by dinner with his family. Family meals were everything to the actor, who always tried to eat with his family despite his busy schedule.

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"He was a great dad, but he was so busy, so he couldn't pick me up from ballet lessons," she shared. "​​If he was ever nervous about doing anything, he never showed it. He had that great talent, and I think he always knew he'd succeed."

Deana also opened up about still feeling her father's presence despite his death. In December 2020, she revealed that she still plays her dad's Christmas songs, so "it's like he never left."

She also senses her late dad's presence when she walks into stores and hears his songs blasting through the speakers. It becomes even more worthwhile for her when people smile and recognize her dad's voice.

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