Tony Martin (American singer)
Martin in 1953
|Birth name||Alvin Morris|
December 25, 1913|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||July 27, 2012
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Labels||Decca, Mercury, RCA Victor, Motown|
Life and career
Martin was born in San Francisco, the son of Hattie (née Smith) and Edward Clarence Morris. His family was Jewish, and all of his grandparents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. He received a saxophone as a gift from his grandmother at the age of ten.
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 reed instrument specialist, 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 his luck in films. It was at that time that he adopted the stage name of Tony Martin. His The Tony Martin Show, a 15-minute variety program, aired on NBC from 1954 to 1956 prior to the evening newscast. One of his guests was Dinah Shore, soon cast in her own hour-long NBC variety program.
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. She'd say things like, "Oh, Tony, you look so tired, why don't you rest your lips on mine?"
In films, he was first cast in a number of bit parts, including a role as a sailor in the movie 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. Martin was featured in the 1941 Marx Brothers film The Big Store, in which he played a singer and performed the now infamous (at least with Marx Brothers fans) 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.
In World War II, he first joined the United States Navy, but as a result of rumors that he had gotten an officer's commission through bribery he left the navy and joined the United States Army Air Forces. As a corporal he was assigned to Capt. Glenn Miller's band, then was 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. He eventually signed with Mercury Records, then a small independent 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. This prompted RCA Victor records to offer him a contract, which he signed in 1947 after satisfying his contract obligations to Mercury.
He appeared in film musicals in 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 a seemingly unlikely pairing, Martin recorded for the Motown Records label in the mid-1960s, scoring a minor hit with the record "Talkin' To Your Picture." He was one of a number of more traditional vocalists signed to the label during the decade.
In 1937, he married Alice Faye, with whom he had appeared in several films. They divorced in 1941.
Martin remarried, to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse, in 1948. They remained married until her death in 2008. Martin adopted Charisse's son, Nicky, from her first marriage. They had one son together, Tony Martin, Jr. (August 28, 1950 – April 10, 2011), who predeceased his father.
|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|
|"For Every Man There's a Woman"||30|
|1949||"If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon"||17|
|"There's No Tomorrow"||2|
|1950||"I Said My Pajamas (and Put on My Pray'rs)"(with Fran Warren)||3|
|"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|
|"The Musicians"(with Dinah Shore, Betty Hutton & Phil Harris)||24|
|"Over a Bottle of Wine"||17|
|1952||"Kiss of Fire"||6|
|"Dance of Destiny"||27|
|1953||"April in Portugal"||17|
|"Sorta on the Border"||26|
|1954||"Stranger in Paradise"||10||6|
|1956||"Walk Hand in Hand"||10||2|
|"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|
- Foolish Hearts (1936)
- Follow the Fleet (1936)
- The Farmer in the Dell (1936)
- Murder on a Bridle Path (1936)
- The Witness Chair (1936) (scenes deleted)
- Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)
- Back to Nature (1936)
- Sing, Baby, Sing (1936)
- Pigskin Parade (1936)
- Banjo on My Knee (1936)
- The Holy Terror (1937)
- Sing and Be Happy (1937)
- You Can't Have Everything (1937)
- Life Begins in College (1937)
- Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)
- Sally, Irene and Mary (1938)
- Kentucky Moonshine (1938)
- Up the River (1938)
- Thanks for Everything (1938)
- Winner Take All (1939)
- Music in My Heart (1940)
- Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
- The Big Store (1941)
- Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
- Casbah (1948)
- Hollywood Goes to Bat (1950) (short subject)
- Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
- Clash by Night (1952) (Cameo)
- Here Come the Girls (1953)
- Easy to Love (1953)
- Deep in My Heart (1954)
- Hit the Deck (1955)
- Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) (Cameo)
- Quincannon, Frontier Scout (1956)
- Let's Be Happy (1957)
- Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982)
- "California births". Family Tree Legends. Retrieved October 2009.
- The two of us - Tony Martin, Cyd Charisse, Dick Kleiner - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Who's who in California - Alice Catt Armstrong – Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- Amazon.com: Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo: A History of the Marx Brothers and a Satire on the Rest of the World (A Touchstone book): Joe Adamson: Books
- "Entertainment News, Celebrity Interviews and Pop Culture – ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "US singer Tony Martin dies aged 98". Retrieved 2012-07-31.
- Tony Martin at Find a Grave
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tony Martin.|
- Tony Martin bio on The Interlude Era site
- Tony Martin bio on the Oldies.com site
- Tony Martin bio on the Feinstein's site
- Tony Martin at the Internet Movie Database
- Photographs and literature
- 1954 episode of his television series at the Internet Archive