Debonaire crooner Tony Martin, whose singing career spanned 80 years, was an SMC alumnus before making a name for himself in Hollywood musicals and TV in the 1940s-50s. He passed away on Friday, July 27, at the age of 98.
Born Alvin Morris in 1913 to poor Jewish immigrants, Martin’s long life in show business began in the late 1920s when he formed his first band at Oakland Technical High School in California. He enrolled at Saint Mary’s College in 1931, following his parents’ advice to pursue a career as a lawyer. But his first love was music, and he left the College after a year and a half to answer the call of show business.
Martin, who was known as the "Butterscotch Baritone" for his smooth vocal style, was one of the most glamorous singers of his generation. He appeared in 25 Hollywood musicals with stars like Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner, hosted his own TV variety show and recorded 17 gold records. Among his hit records were "To Each His Own," "There's No Tomorrow" and "Begin the Beguine." He was still performing in nightclubs around the country well into the 21st century.
Martin also married two movie musical superstars, first Alice Faye and then Cyd Charisse, his wife of 60 years until her death in 2008.
News outlets across the nation carried the sad announcement of Martin's death, including the New York Times and Associated Press. The Bay Area crooner was profiled in the 2009 Saint Mary's magazine article "Tony Martin, A Musical Life."