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Overview for Jay Livingston
Jay Livingston

Jay Livingston



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Also Known As: Jay Harold Livingston,Jay Levison Died: October 17, 2001
Born: March 28, 1915 Cause of Death: pneumonia
Birth Place: McDonald, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: Music ... composer pianist songwriter vocal coach


With his longtime collaborator Ray Evans, Jay Livingston has been responsible for some of the more memorable movie songs from the late 1940 through the early 60s. The duo first met while both were students at the University of Pennsylvania. During holiday breaks, they played together in a band on cruise ships. After graduating, Evans and Livingston settled in NYC where they held odd jobs while trying to place their songs. In 1941, their song "G'bye Now" was incorporated in the Olsen and Johnson revue "Hellzapoppin'" and landed on "Your Hit Parade." Olsen and Johnson brought the songwriters to Hollywood in 1944 where Betty Hutton recorded "Stuff Like That There." Eventually, Evans and Livingston placed songs in films, earning their first Oscar nomination for "The Cat and the Canary" used in 1945's "Why Girls Leave Home."

Paramount put the duo under contract in 1945 and they had a success with the title song to the Olivia de Havilland vehicle "To Each His Own" (1946). Livingston and Evans won the first of a pair of Oscars for the genial "Buttons and Bows," introduced by Bob Hope in "The Paleface" (1948) and made popular by Dinah Shore. Hope and Marilyn Maxwell introduced the holiday favorite "Silver Bells" in 1951's "The Lemon Drop Kid" and the comedian and Lucille Ball had success with another of the duo's efforts "Home Cookin'" (from "Fancy Pants" 1950). While under contract at Paramount, Livingston and Evans churned out numerous hit songs ranging from "Just for Fun" (from "My Friend Irma" 1949) to the theme from "A Place in the Sun" (1951). The pair shared a second Oscar for Best Song for the haunting "Mona Lisa" introduced in "Captain Carey, U.S.A." (1950) and made popular by Nat King Cole. (In the original film, the song is heard in fragments and is sung by a blind Italian street performer). Livingston and Evans made a cameo appearance as themselves in Billy Wilder's classic "Sunset Boulevard" (1950).

After leaving Paramount in 1956, the songwriters worked freelance, winning a third Academy Award for the lilting lullaby "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" which was germane to the plot of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956). (Doris Day introduced the song in the film and later used it as the theme for her 1960s TV sitcom.) The following year, they scored another hit and earned an Oscar nomination for the theme to "Tammy" (1957). Evans and Livingston also received Academy Award nominations for "Almost in Your Arms (Love Theme from "Houseboat")" (1958) and for their lyrics to Henry Mancini's lovely "Dear Heart" (1964). Attempts to translate their Hollywood success to the stage with the original musicals "Oh, Captain!" (1958) and "Let It Ride!" (1961) were less than successful. The pair found a more welcome home on the small screen, penning the themes to such hit series as "Bonanza" and "Mr. Ed." Livingston and Evans finally found a measure of success on stage in 1979 with material interpolated in the Broadway hit "Sugar Babies," co-starring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller. While their last original song for a motion picture (to date) was the theme to "Foxtrot" (1975), the pair has continued to fashion specialty material for nightclub performers and charity functions.

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