Tony Martin (American singer)

Last updated
Tony Martin
1953 Tony Martin.JPG
Martin in 1953
Background information
Birth nameAlvin Morris
Born(1913-12-25)December 25, 1913
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2012(2012-07-27) (aged 98)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
Years active1933–2009
Labels

Alvin Morris (December 25, 1913 – July 27, 2012), known professionally as Tony Martin, was an American actor and popular singer.

Contents

His career spanned over seven decades, and he scored dozens of hits between the late-1930s and mid-1950s with songs such as "Walk Hand in Hand", "Stranger in Paradise" and "I Get Ideas". He was married to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse for 60 years, from 1948 until her death in 2008.

Life and career

Martin was born on December 25, 1913, in San Francisco, [1] [2] the son of Hattie (née Smith) and Edward Clarence Morris. [3] [4] His family was Jewish, and all of his grandparents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. [3] He was raised in Oakland, California. [5] At the age of ten, he received a saxophone as a gift from his grandmother. [6] He went to Oakland High School and St Mary's College. [7]

In his grammar school glee club, he became an instrumentalist and singer. He formed his first band, named "The Red Peppers," when he was at Oakland Technical High School, eventually joining the band of a local orchestra leader, Tom Gerun, as a saxophone player sitting alongside the future bandleader Woody Herman. He attended Saint Mary's College of California during the mid-1930s. After college, he left Gerun's band to go to Hollywood to try films. It was at that time that he adopted the stage name of Tony Martin.

On radio, Martin sang and was master of ceremonies on Tune-Up Time, with Andre Kostelanetz, on CBS in the early 1940s. [8] NBC broadcast The Tony Martin Show , a 15-minute variety program, from 1954 to 1956 prior to the evening newscast. One of his guests was Dinah Shore, soon starring in her own hour-long NBC variety program.[ citation needed ]

He was a featured vocalist on the George Burns and Gracie Allen radio program. On the show Allen playfully flirted with Tony, often threatening to fire him. Allen would say things like, "Oh, Tony, you look so tired, why don't you rest your lips on mine?"

In films, Martin was first cast in a number of bit parts, including a role as a sailor in Follow the Fleet (1936), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He eventually signed with 20th Century-Fox and then Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in which he starred in a number of musicals. Between 1938 and 1942, he made a number of hit records for Decca. In 1941, Martin received equal billing with the Marx Brothers in their final film for MGM, The Big Store , in an effort to lure pop music fans and as an indication of MGM's lack of interest in the comedy team. [9] In the film he played a rising singer and performed "Tenement Symphony," which was written by Hal Borne, who became his long-time musical director. Martin was the last surviving actor to co-star with the Marx Brothers. [10]

Martin joined the United States Navy in 1942 as a chief specialist, the equivalent of a chief petty officer. [11] He was dismissed from the service that year for "unfitness" after he testified at the court martial of a Naval procurement officer. He enlisted as a specialist after the officer twice failed to obtain a commission for him. Martin said that he had given the officer an auto worth $950 to "facilitate" his enlistment. At the time of his dismissal, the Navy said that removal for unfitness was not equivalent to a dishonorable discharge and "does not carry degradation." [12]

After leaving the Navy, Martin asked his local draft board for immediate induction into the service. He was drafted into the Army and assigned to the United States Army Air Forces. He was assigned to Capt. Glenn Miller's band at the request of Miller, who considered him the best singer in the armed services. Martin later said he felt as though he had "stumbled into heaven through the side door." [11] Martin was later promoted to technical sergeant in the Air Transport Command and stationed in India, where Brig. Gen. William H. Tunner, commanding the Hump Airlift, put him to work as an entertainer, forming a troupe of amateur talent from the command and taking it around the various bases to perform.

After the war, Martin signed with Mercury Records, then a small independent label run out of Chicago, Illinois. He cut 25 records in 1946 and 1947 for Mercury, including a 1946 recording of "To Each His Own," which became a million-seller. It was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. [13] This prompted RCA Victor to offer him a record contract, which he signed in 1947 after satisfying his contract obligations to Mercury.[ citation needed ]

He continued to appear in film musicals during the 1940s and 1950s. His rendition of "Lover Come Back to Me" with Joan Weldon in Deep in My Heart – based on the music of Sigmund Romberg and starring José Ferrer - was one of the highlights of that film. He also starred as Gaylord Ravenal in the Show Boat segment from the 1946 film Till the Clouds Roll By .

In 1958, he became the highest paid performer in Las Vegas, signing a five-year deal at the Desert Inn, earning $25,000 a week. [14]

In an unlikely pairing, Martin recorded for the Motown Records label in the mid-1960s, scoring a minor hit with the record "Talkin' To Your Picture."

Martin was a stockholder in the Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation, a hotel and casino company that owned the Flamingo Las Vegas. [15]

Personal life

In 1937, he married actress and singer Alice Faye, with whom he had appeared in several films.[ citation needed ] They divorced in 1941.[ citation needed ]

In 1948 Martin married actress and dancer Cyd Charisse.[ citation needed ] They remained married for 60 years until her death on June 17, 2008.[ citation needed ] Martin adopted Charisse's son Nicky from her first marriage.[ citation needed ] They had one son together, Tony Martin, Jr. (August 28, 1950 – April 10, 2011), who predeceased his father.

Martin and Charisse were both Republicans who campaigned for Richard Nixon. [16]

Martin died on the evening of July 27, 2012, of natural causes. [17] [18] He was 98 years old. Martin was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Records

YearSingleChart positions
US CB US
AC
UK [19]
1936"When Did You Leave Heaven?" (with Victor Young)
1938"The Moon of Manakoora" (with Ray Noble)15
"I Hadn't Anyone Till You" (with Ray Noble)4
"You Couldn't Be Cuter" (with Ray Noble)16
"My Walking Stick" (with Ray Noble)17
"Now It Can Be Told" (with Ray Noble)13
1939"South of the Border"16
1940"It's a Blue World"2
"Fools Rush In"14
1941"Tonight We Love"5
1946"To Each His Own"4
"Rumors Are Flying"9
"I'll Dance at Your Wedding"23
1948"Hooray for Love"21
"Confess"25
"For Every Man There's a Woman"30
"It's Magic"11
1949"If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon"17
"Circus"24
"There's No Tomorrow"2
"Marta"15
1950"I Said My Pajamas (and Put on My Pray'rs)" (with Fran Warren)3
"Valencia"18
"La Vie en rose"9
1951"A Penny a Kiss" (with Dinah Shore)8
"In Your Arms" (with Dinah Shore)20
"Would I Love You"19
"I Get Ideas"3
"I Apologize"20
"The Musicians" (with Dinah Shore, Betty Hutton & Phil Harris)24
"Vanity"18
"Over a Bottle of Wine"17
"Domino"9
1952"Kiss of Fire"6
"Some Day"24
"Luna Rossa"27
"Dance of Destiny"2724
"Sleepy Time Gal"28
"Don't Tempt Me"35
1953"April in Portugal"17
"Sorta on the Border"26
"Caribbean"19
"Relax"27
1954"Stranger in Paradise"1016
"That's What a Rainy Day Is For"37
"Here (In This Enchanted Place)"55
"Angels In the Sky"19
"Boulevard of Nightingales"37
"Uno"37
"My Bambino"36
1955"All of You"25
"Do, Do, Do"35
"Just a Man"48
1956"Walk Hand in Hand"10162
"It's Better in the Dark"60
1957"Do I Love You (Because You're Beautiful)"82
1965"Talkin' to Your Picture"133
1967"Theme from The Sand Pebbles (And We Were Lovers)"22

Filmography

Related Research Articles

<i>The Band Wagon</i> 1953 film by Vincente Minnelli

The Band Wagon is a 1953 American musical-comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. It tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway show will restart his career. However, the play's director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of the Faust legend and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star. Along with Singin' in the Rain (1952), it is regarded as one of the finest of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, although it was only a modest box-office success on first release.

<i>Ziegfeld Follies</i> Series of elaborate theatrical revue productions

The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.

Tex Ritter American country musician

Woodward Maurice "Tex" Ritter was an American country music singer and actor popular from the mid 1930s into the 1960s, and the patriarch of the Ritter acting family. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Cyd Charisse American dancer and actress

Cyd Charisse was an American dancer and actress.

Jack Buchanan Scottish actor, singer, director and producer

Walter John "Jack" Buchanan was a Scottish theatre and film actor, singer, dancer, producer and director. He was known for three decades as the embodiment of the debonair man-about-town in the tradition of George Grossmith Jr., and was described by The Times as "the last of the knuts." He is best known in America for his role in the classic Hollywood musical The Band Wagon in 1953.

James Mitchell (actor)

James Mitchell was an American actor and dancer. Although he is best known to television audiences as Palmer Cortlandt on the soap opera All My Children (1979–2010), theatre and dance historians remember him as one of Agnes de Mille's leading dancers. Mitchell's skill at combining dance and acting was considered something of a novelty; in 1959, the critic Olga Maynard singled him out as "an important example of the new dancer-actor-singer in American ballet", pointing to his interpretive abilities and "masculine" technique.

<i>Thats Entertainment! III</i>

That's Entertainment! III is a 1994 American documentary film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to celebrate the studio's 70th anniversary. It was the third in a series of retrospectives that began with the first That's Entertainment! (1974) and That's Entertainment, Part II (1976). Although posters and home video packaging use the title without an exclamation mark, the actual on-screen title of the film uses it.

<i>The Harvey Girls</i> 1946 film by Robert Alton, George Sidney

The Harvey Girls is a 1946 Technicolor American musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, about Fred Harvey's famous Harvey House waitresses. Directed by George Sidney, the film stars Judy Garland and features John Hodiak, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury, as well as Preston Foster, Virginia O'Brien, Kenny Baker, Marjorie Main and Chill Wills. Future star Cyd Charisse appears in her first speaking role on film.

Erin Leslie Fleming was a Canadian actress best known as the companion and manager of Groucho Marx in his final years.

Norman Taurog

Norman Rae Taurog was an American film director and screenwriter. From 1920 to 1968, Taurog directed 180 films. At the age of 32, he received the Academy Award for Best Director for Skippy (1931). He is the second youngest person ever to win the award after Damien Chazelle, who won for La La Land in 2017. He was later nominated for Best Director for the film Boys Town (1938). He directed some of the best-known actors of the twentieth century, including his nephew Jackie Cooper, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Deanna Durbin, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Elvis Presley. Taurog directed six Martin and Lewis films, and nine Elvis Presley films, more than any other director. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Norman Taurog has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1600 Vine Street.

Joe Pasternak

Joseph Herman Pasternak was a Hungarian-born American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with female singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950, and some of Gene Kelly’s early breakthrough roles. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.

<i>Party Girl</i> (1958 film)

Party Girl is a 1958 American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse and Lee J. Cobb. Filmed in CinemaScope, it was the last film Charisse did for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the next-to-last film Taylor did for the studio; they were MGM's last two contract stars.

"Dancing in the Dark" is a popular American song, with music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz, that was first introduced by John Barker with Tilly Losch dancing in the 1931 revue The Band Wagon. The song was first recorded by Bing Crosby on August 19, 1931 with Studio Orchestra directed by Victor Young, staying on the pop charts for six weeks, peaking at #3, and helping to make it a lasting standard.
The 1941 recording by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra earned Shaw one of his eight gold records at the height of the Big Band era of the 1930s and 1940s.

<i>Brigadoon</i> (film) 1954 film by Vincente Minnelli

Brigadoon is a 1954 American Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film made in CinemaScope and Metrocolor based on the 1947 Broadway musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse. Brigadoon has been broadcast on American television and is available in VHS, DVD and Blu Ray formats.

Johnny Williams (drummer)

John Francis Williams was an American percussionist from the early 1930s to the late 1950s. In New York and Hollywood he worked on radio, in films, and as a recording artist.

<i>Meet Me in Las Vegas</i>

Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) is an MGM musical comedy produced by Joe Pasternak, directed by Roy Rowland, filmed in Eastman Color and CinemaScope, and starring Dan Dailey and Cyd Charisse.

Richard Marx American musician and record producer

Richard Noel Marx is a Grammy Award-winning American adult contemporary and pop rock singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor.

<i>Les Poupées de Paris</i>

Les Poupées de Paris was a musical puppet show created, produced and directed by Sid and Marty Krofft, that toured the United States throughout the 1960s.

Donald Novis

Donald George Novis was an English-born American actor and tenor.

John Bleifer American actor

John Melvin Bleifer was an American actor whose career began at the end of the silent film era, and lasted through the mid-1980s. He appeared in feature films and film serials, and in a number of television series and miniseries. Bleifer also acted on stage, and appeared in several Broadway productions.

References

  1. "California births". Family Tree Legends. Retrieved October 31, 2009.
  2. Pedersen, Erik (July 30, 2012). "Singer-Actor Tony Martin Dies at 98". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  3. 1 2 Martin, Tony; Charisse, Cyd; Kleiner, Dick (1976). The Two Of Us. Mason/Charter. ISBN   978-0884053637 . Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  4. Armstrong, Alice Catt (1976). Who's who in California. Who's Who Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  5. Bergan, Ronald (July 31, 2012). "Tony Martin obituary". The Guardian . London. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  6. Wilkins, Barbara (October 25, 1976). "With His Pipes and Her Stems, Cyd Charisse & Tony Martin Are the Doyens of Song'n'dance". People . Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  7. "Tony Martin". The Daily Telegraph . London. July 31, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  8. "Monday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (2): 43. June 1940. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  9. Kanfer, Stefan (2001). Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx. Vintage Books. p. 261. ISBN   978-0375702075 . Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  10. Adamson, Joe (1983). Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo: A History of the Marx Brothers and a Satire on the Rest of the World. Simon & Schuster. p. 388. ISBN   978-0671470722 . Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  11. 1 2 Spragg, Dennis M. (2017). Glenn Miller Declassified. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 48–49, 57, 71. ISBN   978-1612348957 . Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  12. "Tony Martin Discharged By Navy, Ordered to Report to Draft Board". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. Associated Press. 2 December 1942. p. 15. Retrieved 17 November 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  13. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 37. ISBN   978-0214204807.
  14. "Tony Martin's $1,000,000 Deal". Variety . November 19, 1958. p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2019 via Archive.org.
  15. Heller, Jean (October 30, 1969). "Funds For Parvin Foundation Came From Flamingo Hotel Sale" . The Evening Sun. Hanover, Pennsylvania. p. 29. Retrieved August 29, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Other stockholders included singer Tony Martin and actor George Raft.
  16. ""1968 Presidential Race" Republicans". The Pop History Dig. 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  17. Thomas, Bob (July 30, 2012). "Tony Martin, Romantic Crooner, Dies at 98". Billboard . Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  18. "US singer Tony Martin dies aged 98". BBC News. July 31, 2012. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  19. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN   978-1904994107.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Tony Martin at Wikimedia Commons