Dean Martin Traveling Museum comes to Steubenville


STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) — You’ve seen Dean Martin as the definition of ’60s charisma, the movie star who climbed the heights of Hollywood and the pop charts.

But have you ever seen him in puppet form?

How about as a plastic doll that will sing “That’s Amore” to you?

From the suave to the goofy, it all belongs to Jim Monaco, the undisputed biggest fan of the 20th century entertainment giant.

And just in time for the Dean Martin Festival, he and his wife Debbie set up an entire museum dedicated to him along 4th Street.

Monaco says his fandom was sparked after watching Martin’s movies with comedian Jerry Lewis.

“And I started watching Dean Martin, and it turned out that he was just as funny as Jerry Lewis when he was allowed to be. Just not as crazy. But just as funny.”

Jim Monaco, Dean Martin memorabilia collector

And cool…so cool that it started a collection he’s built for 60 years.

He owns a poster for every movie Dino was ever in, along with all his records and even his costumes from Rio Bravo and Rough Night in Jericho.

Not even minor items like TV Guides and tapes of his celebrity roasts are spared.

“Now, my wife will tell you we have no bank account because it’s all invested in this. And I have pretty much everything, there’s a few things still out there that I haven’t gotten. But that’s what’s fun about collecting.”

Jim Monaco, Dean Martin memorabilia collector

Even a 1992 fire that destroyed most of his lot couldn’t stop him.

Monaco’s status as a super fan even brought him to the attention of Martin’s family, who come to him when they’re looking for a specific part of his past.

“This is a gold record that Dean Martin’s wife Jeanne sent me as a gift…this is downstairs, so anybody who walks in goes, ‘oh, how’d you get that?’ And there’s a nice story involved in that too.”

Jim Monaco, Dean Martin memorabilia collector

But even with a fortune in collectibles on his hands…he’s happy to share the joy that the Rat Pack member brought him.

The 45 tables at the museum will have his spare items for sale to build other fans’ collections.
Because as any Dean fan knows…memories are made of this.

“I just want to help other collectors because I know what it was like growing up, being a collector and loving Dean…you know, he’s just the cool guy, funny.”

Jim Monaco, Dean Martin memorabilia collector

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