Proby in love?

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Aug 2018 Proby in love?

THE LATE Dean Martin is a legend, an absolute all- time great comedian, singer and actor. He was born and named Dino Paul Crocetti on June 17, 1917, in Ohio, USA to Italian immigrant parents. At the age of 17, he started singing and enjoyed doing it very much.

In the late 1930s, after singing for about four years under his real name, he decided to change it to Dino Martin. But also around at that time was a popular male singer with the name Nino Martini, so once more he decided to alter his name, this time to Dean Martin.

In 1943 Dean was signed to sing at a top New York club. Then, in 1947, he teamed up with comedian Jerry Lewis and their great combination made them the absolute top comedy duo around. In 1956 after a successful nine years at the top together, they split up, and Dean concentrated fully on
singing again at night-clubs, on TV and in movies.

In the meantime, Dean had married a lady called Betty MacDonald and on March 16,1944, their daughter was born and named Claudia. She was raised in Southern California and eventually followed her famous father into the acting business.

Claudia’s first film role was in the 1956 comedy “Hollywood Or Bust”. Many other movies and TV appearances followed in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s.

In June,1969, the 25-year-old lady entered her first marriage. It was to a guy called Kiel Martin, with whom she later had a daughter named Jesse. Kiel and Claudia divorced in late 1971.

In the early Summer of 1972, the Texan-born singer P J Proby (real name James Marcus Smith), who was living in England, went over to Los Angeles for a break. Proby’s birth-place was in Houston, and after attending some military schools, he went to Hollywood as an 18-year-old and had a little bit of success in the late 1950s as an actor and singer.

When no work was available, he was a sort of bodyguard for a couple of stars, including Liberace, and he also drove the cars of some of the top movie stars, particularly Paul Newman. P J himself became a huge singing star in 1964 in England, thanks to Jack Good, and he decided to move there from America. He did visit the States now and again, of course.

In his 1972 visit, he and Claudia Martin were introduced to each other and it was love at first sight. At this time, P J was 34 and Claudia was 28.

The couple quickly became engaged and their marriage was arranged for November 1,1972. Unfortunately, P J Proby was still married to his first wife Marianne. They had met and become a couple in 1961, but had split up after a few years.

For some reason though, they never did get the lawful divorce necessary, so P J could not marry again until that had happened. He had simply forgotten he was not divorced from Marianne,who was only 16 when she married P J, known in show-biz at that time as Jett Powers. In fact, he had
already married again in 1966 for what he believed was his second legal wedding. This was to a lady called Judy Howard, the daughter of a millionaire. But as his first wedding was still legal, this meant his second marriage was null and void.

Finding out all of this meant Dean Martin was trying his very best to assist P J to get the divorce he needed so that the November marriage to his daughter Claudia could go ahead. Dean was keen on that happening as he was so happy to see what a perfect couple they were.

Claudia loved the way P J sang and she persuaded her dad Dean to have him as a guest on his American show ‘The Dean Martin TV Show’. This was a hugely popular entertainment show attracting many, many millions of TV viewers for many, many years.

So when P J agreed to be a guest on the show, he was so pleased, as was Dean. P J knew his singing on US television would make him once more popular in the States. He’d been in
the pop charts (gold disc for Niki Hoekyin 1967) and on the TV pop shows over there in the mid to late 1960s, so an appearance on Dean’s show would be a great boost for his American singing popularity.

PJ directly contacted Liberty Records, as he wanted to sing Secret Loveon the show, a lovely song he had previously put on disc back in 1965. But, for some reason, Liberty would not send P J the backing music or the permission to perform Secret Love; they sent him Hold Me instead. This was the first giant hit P J had, and that was in mid-1964.

On hearing this news from Liberty, P J was not keen on singing this song on the Dean Martin show, but he had no option other than to go along with Liberty’s own choice of music.

Before the show was being filmed, the disappointed P J had unfortunately been drinking, and at the TV studios, when singing he collapsed, fell over backwards and then blacked out. He later laughingly said: “I was out cold, like a cucumber.”

So, naturally, after that incident, Dean Martin and the TV producers, directors, etc., were not happy and P J was omitted completely from the show when it was later screened.

After that, all things between P J and Claudia started going downhill and they soon split up. Of course P J was not pleased about this happening, and when he believed Claudia had found herself a new man, P J threatened them both with a gun and he sent a few bullets their way to panic them a bit. Unfortunately, it was very near a police station, and because of his shooting and illegal weapon possession, P J was put on trial, found guilty and got three months in a LA prison.

After leaving jail in mid-1973, he decided to return to England.

In late 1973, Claudia married for the second time. Her new hubby was Vincent Lucchesi but they divorced after only one year. Four years later, in 1978, Claudia married for the third time, a guy called Thomas E Brown, and they had three children.

Unexpectedly, Thomas died in 1991, after almost 13 years as Claudia’s husband. In May,1996, Claudia was married – the fourth time – to a guy named James Roberts. Sadly, in 1995, her legendary father Dean Martin passed away on Christmas Day, aged 78.

Even sadder, was that Claudia herself died on February, 16, 2001 in Reno,Nevada and the cause was breast cancer. Her hubby James was badly shocked and stunned, as were Claudia’s four children from two of her four marriages.

As for P J Proby he was soon getting work when he came back to England. He did plenty of gigs,-mainly in Northern clubs, and released records,including later in 1973 an album “I’m Yours”. Back then, things were not always perfect for P J, but such a talent always bounced back.

And now, in 2018, and coming up to being 80 years young, he’s still singing brilliantly in theatres and clubs and also recording great songs and releasing records. In the Autumn 60’s Gold final UK tour, P J is the special guest. Well worth seeing!

By Ron Tennant

SO MUCH has been written about P J that it is hard to believe what is fact and what is fiction.

The Texan-born rock star is famous for splitting his too-tight trousers repeatedly on stage. But many in the business thought he had more potential than Elvis, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Praise included remarks such as ‘he is the most talented rock and roll singer in the world’, and ‘more electrifying than James Brown, outclassing Sinatra’, and ‘he has so much talent he should be outselling all the greats’.

He did just that at the height of his fame, with his rendition of Somewhere, from West Side Story.

He claimed he owned three houses in Beverly Hills and one in London’s Chelsea. He had three Rolls-Royces, his own Learjet and a luxury yacht.