My friend Richard Metzger (on the right in the above photo), the founder of the terrific Dangerous Minds website, shares his story about meeting Dean Martin at Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles. I remember staring at the gigantic blowup poster of the above photograph that Richard had hanging from the wall of his apartment in Hollywood about 15 years ago. (Here's an article about Richard that I wrote for Wired back in 1997, in which I mention the photograph.)
I was absolutely fascinated by Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care rouéwho truly wasn't impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn't care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckoned Dean Martin must've been the coolest man alive.
Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood, ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills. I made a mental note to myself to go there one day.
Not more than a few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we'd dine that evening. And we brought a camera.