Monday, July 30, 2012

Tony Martin Dies at 98

This has been a tough month for classic film fans, with the passing of several beloved actors from the scene.

Today comes word of the death of singer-actor Tony Martin. Martin lived a grand life, performing into his mid 90s, before passing away last Friday at the age of 98.

Martin was briefly married to singer-actress Alice Faye before they divorced in 1940; she later found long-term happiness with musician-comedian Phil Harris, and Martin was married to the amazing Cyd Charisse for six decades before she passed away in June 2008.

Martin was in over three dozen films and TV shows, in addition to a busy career as a recording artist and performer in live venues. In the '30s he appeared with Alice Faye in Fox musicals such as YOU CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING (1937) and SALLY, IRENE AND MARY (1938).

He appeared sporadically in MGM musicals over the years, including singing the role of Gaylord Ravenal in the SHOW BOAT segment of TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1946).  He also appeared in EASY TO LOVE (1953) with Esther Williams and Van Johnson, and he starred with Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Ann Miller, Walter Pidgeon, and Vic Damone in HIT THE DECK (1955).

Without a doubt, one of his most memorable movie scenes was singing "You Stepped Out of a Dream" in the 1941 MGM film ZIEGFELD GIRL:

Tony Martin is survived by his stepson, Nico Charisse. His son with Cyd Charisse, Tony Martin Jr., passed away last year at the age of 60. Additionally, Martin and Charisse's daughter-in-law, Sheila Charisse, died in a major American Airlines crash in Chicago in 1979.

Here's to another of the wonderful Golden Era performers whose work has enriched all our lives.

Update: The Los Angeles Times has now posted a story.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

One of my favourite Martin performances was on "The Nat King Cole Show". Two great entertainers doing what they did best.

4:00 PM  
Blogger A said...

Not another one! RIP Tony Martin.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Rod Croft said...

At 98 years of age, Tony Martin certainly lived a full life. It is fortunate that he has left recordings of his voice and appearances in a number of films for posterity.

6:45 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Tony Martin was one of my favorite singers - and he appeared in a few musical movies too, notably "Casbah" (1948) in which he sang "For Every Man There's A Woman".

We saw and heard him (and Cyd)in the mid-1960s when they toured South Africa with a stage show which also featured Caterina Valente.

I was hoping he'd make it to 100.

RIP Tony Martin.

8:52 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I did a play, The Pleasure of His Company in Toronto with Cyd. My wife and Cyd got along like gangbusters, but Tony was aa card. He came up several times, and once gave me a unique and fresh compliment. He said: Barry You have done a wonderful job with this production. You could take anyone to see it, even Kirk Douglas.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

As a huge fan of Nat King Cole, I'd have loved to see Tony Martin on that show, Caftan Woman!

I'm so glad to read such appreciation for him, as I really enjoyed his singing. Mel, I envy you having seen him and Cyd in person! (Wish he'd made it to 100 too...) And Barrylane, what a great anecdote! You are so fortunate that you had the chance to get to know them.

Best wishes,

9:50 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Boy, this is a hard month. This is really sad news. :-(

10:36 AM  
Blogger Kevin Deany said...

I always liked Tony Martin, even if he did have the misfortune to sing the most dismal song in any Marx Bros. movie, "The Tenement Symphony" from "The Big Store."

9:09 AM  
Blogger mel said...

A nice obituary by Tom Vallance has just appeared here:

12:54 AM  

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