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Tony Martin (American singer)

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Birth name  Alvin Morris
Role  Actor
Name  Tony Martin
Years active  1933–2009
Occupation(s)  Singer, actor

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Born  December 25, 1913 (age 98), San Francisco, California, United States (1913-12-25)
Genres  Big bandTraditional pop
Labels  Decca, Mercury, RCA Victor, Motown
Spouse  Cyd Charisse (m. 1948–2008), Alice Faye (m. 1937–1940)
Children  Tony Martin Jr., Nicholas Martin
Parents  Edward Clarence Morris, Hattie Morris
Movies  Ziegfeld Girl, Hit the Deck, Till the Clouds Roll By, Music in My Heart, Casbah
Similar People  Cyd Charisse, Alice Faye, Fran Warren, Vic Damone, Dinah Shore
Died  July 27, 2012 (aged 98) Los Angeles, California, U.S.

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Tony Martin (born Alvin Morris; December 25, 1913 – July 27, 2012) was an American actor, best known for his film roles and popular singer. 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" and "Stranger in Paradise". He was married to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse for 60 years until her death in 2008.

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Life and career

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Alvin Morris was born on December 25, 1913, 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 was raised in Oakland, California. At the age of ten, he received a saxophone as a gift from his grandmother. He went to Oakland High School and St Mary’s College.

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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 his luck in films. It was at that time that he adopted the stage name of Tony Martin.

Martin sang and was master of ceremonies on Tune-Up Time, with Andre Kostelanetz, on CBS radio in the early 1940s. 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.

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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 "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 1941 he joined the United States Navy as a non-commissioned officer, but was dismissed from the service in 1942 after an investigation of bribery of a naval recruiter by members of the entertainment industry. Martin was drafted into the Army and assigned to the United States Army Air Forces. He was assigned to Capt. Glenn Miller's band, as he was considered the best singers in the armed service. Martin later said he felt as though he had "stumbled into heaven through the side door."

He 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. It was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. 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.

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

Martin and his wife were both staunch Republicans who campaigned for Richard Nixon.

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

Family

In 1937, he married actress and singer 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 for sixty years until her death on June 17, 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.

In 1933 he also had a daughter, Yvette Mathison. Her mother was a dancer in many popular Harlem clubs.

References

Tony Martin (American singer) Wikipedia


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