Tony Martin


Tony Martin

About

Also Known As
Alvin Morris, Anthony Martin
Birth Place
San Francisco, California, USA
Born
December 25, 1913
Died
July 27, 2012
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

Biography

Tony Martin's powerful tenor and smooth, romantic style earned him a place in America's heart as a much-loved entertainer. He entered the business as a musician in touring orchestras before landing plum roles in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s, including "Sing, Baby, Sing" (1936), "Music in My Heart" (1940), "Ziegfield Girl" (1941) and "Casbah" (1948). Martin's crooning also s...

Photos & Videos

Two Tickets to Broadway - Lobby Cards
Hit the Deck - Movie Poster
Hit the Deck - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Family & Companions

Alice Faye
Wife
Singer, actor. Married 1937, divorced 1940.
Cyd Charisse
Wife
Actor. dancer. Married 1948.

Bibliography

"The Two of Us"
Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse (1976)

Notes

Martin serves as the Bard for the Friars Club

Biography

Tony Martin's powerful tenor and smooth, romantic style earned him a place in America's heart as a much-loved entertainer. He entered the business as a musician in touring orchestras before landing plum roles in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s, including "Sing, Baby, Sing" (1936), "Music in My Heart" (1940), "Ziegfield Girl" (1941) and "Casbah" (1948). Martin's crooning also swept the nation, with soulful renditions of ballads and pop standards like "When I'm With You" (1936) and the Oscar-nominated "For Every Man There's A Woman" (1948). His talent and undeniable charm wooed several silver screen goddesses throughout his career, from Ava Gardner to Rita Hayworth to Lana Turner, yet it was Martin's 60-year marriage to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse that remained a true Hollywood love story. With a multi-hyphenate career that spanned decades and withered an industry obsessed with youth, Martin endured as one of the most accomplished and stylish vocalists of his era.

He was born Alvin Morris on Dec. 25, 1912 in San Francisco, CA to Jewish immigrant parents. As a young man, Martin learned to play the saxophone, which was given to him by his grandmother. The future star formed his first band in high school called The Red Peppers before joining Tom Gerun's Orchestra as a reed instrument player. He traveled with the band - which also included future bandleader Woody Herman - to places such as Chicago, IL, where they performed at the 1933 World's Fair. After college, he left Gerun's orchestra, moved to Hollywood, and adopted the stage name Tony Martin. One of his first film appearances was a minor role as a sailor in the 1936 musical comedy "Follow the Fleet," starring RKO studio darlings, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. After signing a contract with 20th Century Fox, Martin was cast in a more sizable film role in the Shirley Temple musical "Poor Little Rich Girl" (1936), in which he performed the song "When I'm With You." One of his co-stars was Alice Faye, whom Martin married in 1937. The couple acted together in other films, including the musical "Sing, Baby, Sing" and the romantic comedy "Sally, Irene and Mary" (1938), but their union ended in divorce after three years.

The late 1930s saw a surge in Martin's acting career, with starring vehicles in films such as the spy drama "The Holy Terror" (1937) with Jane Withers, the fantasy musical "Ali Baba Goes to Town" (1937), and the drama "Winner Take All" (1939) opposite Gloria Stuart. The smooth, tenor-voiced Martin had an equally successful music career, releasing pop standards and ballads that fared well on the charts, including "Fools Rush In" (1940) and "Tonight We Love" (1941). Martin's debonair charm and versatile talent did not go unnoticed in Hollywood, and his bachelor status often landed him in the arms of the entertainment industry's most glamorous women. In his heyday, Martin was linked to his "Music in My Heart" leading lady Rita Hayworth, his "Ziegfield Girl" (1941) co-star Lana Turner, and even Hollywood femme fatale Ava Gardner. After several years with 20th Century Fox, Martin signed with MGM and acted opposite the Marx brothers in the musical comedy "The Big Store" (1941), where he sang "Tenement Symphony" accompanied by a boys' choir.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Martin put his career on hold and enlisted with the U.S. Navy. Rumors swirled that the actor bribed a naval officer, which led to his discharge. Even though it was not confirmed, Martin left the Navy and joined the U.S. Army during World War II, working as an entertainer with the Glenn Miller-directed Army Air Forces Training Command Orchestra, and earning a Bronze Star as a noncombatant in the Far East. Martin returned to Hollywood in 1946 with an appearance in the biographical film "Till the Clouds Roll By," about Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern and starring Judy Garland. That same year, the talented star released his version of the Ray Evans-penned "To Each His Own," which reached the Top 10 on the charts. Martin received some of the best reviews of his acting career when he starred in the 1948 musical "Casbah" - a musical version of the 1938 drama, "Algiers" - in which he played spy thief Pepe Le Moko opposite Yvonne De Carlo. The film also featured Martin's rendition of the Academy Award-nominated song "For Every Man There's A Woman." Having divorced Alice Faye, Martin married Texas-born actress and dancer Cyd Charisse in 1948. The couple had one son together, Tony Martin Jr., and had one of the longest Hollywood marriages on record - 60 years until Charisse's death in 2008. Martin and Charisse appeared in each other's films, including his musical "Easy To Love" (1953) and her romantic comedy "Meet Me In Las Vegas" (1956).

In addition to his film and recording work, Martin was very active on radio shows from the 1930s to the 1950s, such as Walter Winchell's "Lucky Strike Hour," and George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio program. On the latter, Allen playfully flirted with Martin and said things like, "Oh Tony you look so tired, why don't you rest your lips on mine?" Another famous story involving Martin occurred during a 1958 Friar's Club Roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The writer and actor Harry Parke had just finished his routine when he collapsed into Milton Berle's lap. Martin was asked to sing in order to divert the audience's attention, but his unfortunate song choice was his 1950 hit "There's No Tomorrow." Parke died of heart attack just hours later. Martin subsequently moved to television, hosting the short-lived variety series "The Tony Martin Show" (NBC, 1954), and making guest appearances on "The George Burns Show" (NBC, 1958-59) and "The Donna Reed Show" (ABC, 1958-1966). In 1964, Martin formed a nightclub act with his wife Charisse, and for several years they toured the cabaret circuit in the U.S. and overseas. One of Martin's last acting appearances was a cameo in the 1982 film "Dear Mr. Wonderful." Having outlived nearly all of his Hollywood and radio contemporaries, the beloved singer-actor passed away on July 26, 2012 at the age of 98.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

That's Entertainment! III (1994)
The Wicked Lady (1983)
Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982)
Himself
Rude Boy (1980)
Policeman
Let's Be Happy (1957)
Stanley Smith
Quincannon, Frontier Scout (1956)
Linus Quincannon
Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956)
Hit the Deck (1955)
Chief Boatswain's Mate Wm. F. Clark
Deep in My Heart (1954)
[performer in] "The New Moon"
Easy to Love (1953)
Barry Gordon
Here Come the Girls (1953)
Allen Trent
Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
Dan Carter
Casbah (1948)
Pepe Le Moko
Till the Clouds Roll By (1947)
Ravenal in "Show Boat" number
The Big Store (1941)
Tommy Rogers
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Frank Merton
Music in My Heart (1940)
Robert Gregory
Winner Take All (1939)
Steve Bishop
Up the River (1938)
Tommy Grant
Kentucky Moonshine (1938)
Jerry Wade
Thanks for Everything (1938)
Tommy Davis
Sally, Irene and Mary (1938)
Tommy Reynolds
You Can't Have Everything (1937)
Bobby Walker
Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)
Yusuf [/Himself]
Life Begins in College (1937)
Band leader
The Holy Terror (1937)
Danny Walker
Sing and Be Happy (1937)
Buzz Mason
Sing, Baby, Sing (1936)
Tony Renaldo
Back to Nature (1936)
Tom Williams
Follow the Fleet (1936)
Sailor
Banjo on My Knee (1936)
Chick Bean
Pigskin Parade (1936)
Tommy Barker

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Village of the Damned (1995)
Camera
Interceptor (1992)
Assistant Camera Operator

Music (Feature Film)

The Wedding Planner (2001)
Song Performer ("The Closer You Are")
The Fabulous Senorita (1952)
Composer

Make-Up (Feature Film)

Topsy-Turvy (1999)
Hairdresser

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Burning Secret (1988)
Other
Testimony (1987)
Sound

Cast (Special)

Ann Miller: I'm Still Here (2000)
Skitch Henderson at 80 (1998)
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration (1994)
You're the Top: The Cole Porter Story (1990)
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1989)
Performer
Happy Birthday, Hollywood! (1987)
Colour in the Creek (1987)
Meet Cyd Charisse (1959)
Guest
Spring Holiday (1956)
Host

Music (Special)

Skitch Henderson at 80 (1998)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Walking With Prehistoric Beasts (2001)
Advisor
Richard Burton: In From the Cold (1989)
Sound

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

Los Locos (1998)
Camera Assistant

Life Events

Photo Collections

Two Tickets to Broadway - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from RKO's Two Tickets to Broadway (1951). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Hit the Deck - Movie Poster
Here is the insert movie poster for Hit the Deck (1955), starring Jane Powell, Tony Martin, Debbie Rynolds, and Vic Damone.
Hit the Deck - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Hit the Deck (1955), starring Jane Powell, Tony Martin, and Debbie Reynolds.

Videos

Movie Clip

Music In My Heart (1940) - Punchinello Celebrating their engagement, with a reprise of a Bob Wright-Chet Forrest original, this is the only musical bit in the picture for Rita Hayworth, as Manhattanite Patricia, because it’s really a vehicle for Tony Martin, as singer Bob, support from Edith Fellows, George Tobias and George Humbert, in Music In My Heart, 1940.
Music In My Heart (1940) - It's A Blue World Star Tony Martin as singer Bob, with an Academy Award-nominated Bob Wright-Chet Forrest tune, which charted for 14 weeks, has won a radio gig, and we cut away to listener Rita Hayworth, who’s back with her millionaire boyfriend (Alan Mowbray), because she thinks Tony deceived her, which we’ll soon learn he hasn’t, near the end of Columbia’s Music In My Heart, 1940.
Music In My Heart (1940) - You Catching The Boat? We've already met Tony Martin as English singer Bob, happily rushing to a Manhattan dock because he's being deported after a big breakthrough performance, and now he meets Rita Hayworth as Patricia, also headed to the boat, Don Brodie the winning cabbie, in Columbia's Music in My Heart, 1940.
Music In My Heart (1940) - Oh, What A Lovely Dream! Through a flimsy plot device in this Columbia Pictures vehicle for non-contract star Tony Martin, he’s been recruited to sing for a Manhattan politician (Joseph Crehan), from the neighborhood where his prospective new girlfriend Pat (Rita Hayworth) lives, and plays piano, with a Bob Wright-Chet Forrest original, in Music In My Heart, 1940.
Easy To Love (1953) - -- You Said She Swims And Types New York night club attraction Barry (Tony Martin) has gotten an audition for visiting underpaid-overworked Florida aquatic star Julie (Esther Williams) with producer Levenson (Benny Rubin), with a small scale Busby Berkeley swimming bit, in MGM’s Easy To Love, 1953.
Easy To Love (1953) - -- Look Out! I'm Romantic Esther Williams as Florida water-skiing star Julie in New York with boss and not-boyfriend (Van Johnson as Ray), catching singer Barry (Tony Martin), with whom she’s making a commercial, with Carroll Baker’s whole performance as a jealous girlfriend, and an original tune by Vic Mizzy and Mann Curtis, in MGM’s Easy To Love, 1953.
Two Tickets To Broadway (1951) - There's No Tomorrow We meet Eddie Bracken as failed theatrical agent Lew Conway, already defamed in earlier scenes, then his top client, Tony Martin as singer Dan Carter, with a song by Al Hoffman, Leo Corday and Leon Carr, early in RKO’s Two Tickets To Broadway, 1951, also starring Janet Leigh and Gloria DeHaven.
Two Tickets To Broadway (1951) - Manhattan (Rodgers & Hart) Singer Dan (Tony Martin) and aspiring Broadway star Nancy after an elaborate meet-cute, in the theatrical boarding house meet the company, for an extended rendering of the 1925 Rodgers & Hart standard, choreography by the later-career Busby Berkeley, in Two Tickets To Broadway, 1951.
Two Tickets To Broadway (1951) - Baby You'll Never Be Sorry On a Manhattan rooftop, Hannah (Gloria DeHaven) is still sweet on her bumbling agent-boyfriend Lew (Eddie Bracken), occasioning this original by Leo Robin and Jule Styne, in the RKO musical Two Tickets To Broadway, 1951.
Hit The Deck (1955) - Hallelujah! The first number in the MGM/Joe Pasternak version of the Vincent Youmans, Clifford Grey/Leo Robin Broadway musical, Arctic-stationed sailors Russ Tamblyn, Vic Damone and Tony Martin (starting left, center and right) scheming to make a birthday cake for their C-O, in Hit The Deck, 1955.
Hit The Deck (1955) - Keepin' Myself For You Having secured shore leave in San Francisco, sailor Tony Martin drops in backstage and joins his longtime (irritated) gal Ginger (Ann Miller) for a tune by Vincent Youmans and Sidney Clare, a song actually not from the Broadway musical, in MGM producer Joe Pasternak’s Hit The Deck, 1955.
Ziegfeld Girl (1941) - You Stepped Out Of A Dream First night in the show for all three girls, Sandra (Hedy Lamarr) then later Sheila (Lana Turner) more featured than Susie (Judy Garland), Tony Martin with the song by Nacio Herb Brown and Gus Kahn, various boyfriends (Jackie Cooper, James Stewart, Philip Dorn) in the crowd, in MGM's Ziegfeld Girl 1941.

Trailer

Deep in My Heart -- (Original Trailer) Jose Ferrer stars in Deep in My Heart (1954), MGM's all-star biography of Broadway songsmith Sigmund Romberg.
Follow The Fleet - (Re-issue trailer) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers face the music and dance in the naval musical Follow The Fleet (1936).
Easy To Love (1953) - (Original Trailer) Busby Berkeley's musical number for speedboats and handgliders is one of the highlights of Easy To Love (1953) starring Esther Williams.
Meet Me in Las Vegas - (Original Trailer) A ballerina (Cyd Charisse) becomes a lucky charm for a gambler in Meet Me In Las Vegas (1956).
Big Store, The - (Original Trailer) A detective and his zany pals take over a failing department store in The Big Store (1941), starring The Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont.
Till the Clouds Roll By - (Original Trailer) Robert Walker stars in the true story of composer Jerome Kern's rise to the top on Broadway and in Hollywood - Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), co-starring Van Heflin and Judy Garland.
Hit the Deck - (Original Trailer) Sailors on leave in San Francisco get mixed up in love and show business in Hit the Deck (1955), starring Jane Powell and Tony Martin.
Ziegfeld Girl - (Original Trailer) Three showgirls in the Ziegfeld Follies face romantic trials on their way to the top in Ziegfeld Girl (1941) starring Lana Turner.
Two Tickets To Broadway - (Original Trailer) A small-town girl (Janet Leigh) finds love on the road to Broadway stardom in the Technicolor musical Two Tickets To Broadway (1951).

Companions

Alice Faye
Wife
Singer, actor. Married 1937, divorced 1940.
Cyd Charisse
Wife
Actor. dancer. Married 1948.

Bibliography

"The Two of Us"
Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse (1976)

Notes

Martin serves as the Bard for the Friars Club