Frank Sinatra, other stars turnout for Dean Martin funeral

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- -- Dean Paul Martin, son of entertainer Dean Martin, was remembered at a memorial service attended by Frank Sinatra and other Hollwood stars Wednesday as a man with a warm sense of humor whose family and flying career meant the most to him.

'Dean was my best friend,' actor James Woods said in a eulogy before some 400 of Martin's friends and family. 'Only two weeks ago he said to me, 'If I were to die tomorrow, because of my son Alex, I'd die a happy man. The proudest achievement of my life was to bring Alex into this world.''


Alex, 14; his mother, actress Olivia Hussey; Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill, who was Martin's second wife; Martin's father and mother, Jeanne, and other family members, sat with hands clasped together as Woods paid his last respects in an open-air service at the Veterans Administration National Cemetery in Westwood.


Woods, reflecting on his father's death when he was still a teenager, sought to comfort Alex, saying, 'Go ahead and grieve, but then let it go. Be happy because that's what (your father) would have wanted.'

Woods's remarks evoked a tender-felt moment among the mourners, many of whom quietly wept.

Martin, 35, a member of the California Air National Guard's 163rd Tactical Fighter Group based at March Air Force Base, was killed March 21 when the F-4C Phantom jet fighter he was piloting slammed into a peak in the San Bernardino Mountains during a snowstorm. His weapons officer, Capt. Ramon Ortiz of Las Vegas, Nev., also died in the crash.

A host of celebrities, including Sinatra and his wife, Barbara, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Desi Arnaz Jr., Danny Thomas, Red Buttons, Lucille Ball, Henri Mancini, and some 200 hundred members of Martin's unit, several in full military dress, attended the afternoon memorial service.

'Dean was serious about two things -- flying and his family,' Woods said. 'He took life very seriously but he wouldn't let you know it.'

Woods said Martin helped him overcome a fear of flying by taking him out in a private plane last year.

'We were flying over Malibu on one of those gorgeous Southern California days ... and he gave me the controls. I felt like Chuck Yeager,' Woods said, referring to the famed test pilot.


'We had the sun to our backs and were on a 60-degree bank when I looked at him and saw the face of God and that's when I knew why they called him the 'Golden Boy,'' Woods said.

The service was followed by a five-gun salute and the 'missing-man formation,' four supersonic jets passing over the cemetery, one veering off into the heavens. A memorial wreath was supplied by the President and Mrs. Reagan.

Martin's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Art Cornelius, concluded the service by presenting Alex Martin a U.S. flag.

Guard units, meanwhile, spent their eighth day scouring the crash site, 'going one step at a time and documenting everything they find' across a 100- by 200-foot area, a military official said.

Teams planned to fly the remains of both men from the mountain by Friday, although recovery efforts have been repeatedly delayed because of the extremely rugged terrain and the severity of the impact, Guard spokesman Maj. Steven Mensik said.

An investigation into the cause of the crash, carried out by a six-member team of Air Force and Air National Guard officers, is expected to be completed within one to three months.

A military service for both men was scheduled for Saturday at the base.


Martin appeared in several films, including 'Players' and 'Heart Like a Wheel' and starred in the 1985-86 television series 'Misfits of Science.' He completed work on a pilot film last month for another series, 'A Single Man.'

Latest Headlines


Follow Us