Tony Martin
Crooner's marriage to Cyd Charisse lasted 60 years

LOS ANGELES Tony Martin, the romantic singer who appeared in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s and sustained a career in records, television and nightclubs from the Depression era into the 21st century, has died. He was 98.

Mr. Martin died of natural causes Friday evening at his West Los Angeles home, his friend and accountant Beverly Scott said Monday.

A peer of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, Mr. Martin sang full voice in a warm baritone that carried special appeal for his female audience. Among his hit recordings were "I Get Ideas," "To Each His Own," "Begin the Beguine" and "There's No Tomorrow."

"He's the ultimate crooner who outlasted all is his contemporaries," musician and longtime friend Gabriel Guerrero said from his Oregon home. Mr. Martin recently sang to Guerrero over the telephone.

"He has truly remained the butterscotch baritone until he was 98," Guerrero added.

Although he never became a full-fledged movie star, he was featured in 25 films, most of them made during the heyday of the Hollywood musicals. A husky 6 feet tall and dashingly handsome, he was often cast as the romantic lead.

He also married two movie musical superstars, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse, and the latter union lasted 60 years, until her death in 2008.

Mr. Martin found his escape through music while growing up in San Francisco and Oakland amid a poor, close-knit Russian Jewish family, enduring taunts and slights from gentile classmates.

"I always sang," he wrote. "I always played some instrument or other, real or imagined. ... At first, of course, my music was just for my own fun. I didn't recognize it right away as my passport away from poverty."

Performing on radio led to his break into the film business. His first singing role came in the 1936 "Sing Baby Sing," which starred future wife Faye and introduced the Ritz Brothers to the screen as a more frenetic version of the Marx Brothers.

As a contract player at Twentieth Century-Fox, Mr. Martin also appeared in "Pigskin Parade" (featuring a young Judy Garland), "Banjo on My Knee" (Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea) "Sing and Be Happy," "You Can't Have Everything" (Faye, Don Ameche) "Ali Baba Goes to Town" (comedian Eddie Cantor) and "Sally, Irene and Mary."

In 1940 he shifted to MGM and sang in such films as "The Ziegfeld Girl" (James Stewart, Lana Turner, Judy Garland), "The Big Store" (the Marx Brothers), "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Easy to Love" (Esther Williams) and "Deep in My Heart."

In 1948 he produced and starred in "Casbah," a well-received film musical version of "Algiers" with a fine score by Harold Arlen and Leo Robin. He made singing tours of Europe and had a yearly contract at London's Palladium.

Mr. Martin had fallen in love with Faye while at Fox, where she was one of the studio's biggest stars. Married in 1937, the newlyweds were considered one of Hollywood's handsomest couples. But the marriage eroded because of career conflicts and his distaste for becoming known as Mr. Alice Faye. They divorced after two years.

Mr. Martin met Charisse, then a rising dance star at MGM, when they were dinner partners at a party given by their mutual agent. Just returned from the war, Mr. Martin was busy greeting old friends and paid her little attention.

They didn't meet until a year later, when the persistent agent arranged another date. This time they clicked, and they married in 1948. She had a son Nicky, born of her first marriage to dance director Nico Charisse. She gave birth to Tony Jr. in 1950.

Charisse became a star at MGM during the 1950s, dancing with Fred Astaire in "The Band Wagon" and "Silk Stockings" and Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" and "Brigadoon."

In later years, Mr. Martin and Charisse put out a 1976 double autobiography, "The Two of Us," and often toured in a singing and dancing shows. He continued appearances into his 90s, his voice only slightly tarnished by time.

"His voice is more or less intact," a New York Times critic wrote when he appeared at a New York club in early 2008. "Time has certainly taken its toll. He no longer belts. ... But the essential Tony Martin sound was still discernible."

Mr. Martin is survived by stepson Nico Charisse.Martin was born Dec. 25, 1913. His parents divorced when he was an infant.

"I was a Christmas present in a family that didn't believe in Christmas," Martin wrote. "The name they gave me when I was born on Christmas Day, 1913, was Alvin Morris. Tony Martin wasn't born for a long time after that."

He attended St. Mary's College of California, where he and other students formed a popular jazz combo, The Five Red Peppers. After college, he formed Al Morris and His Orchestra, and played in San Francisco nightclubs like the Chez Paree, often appearing on late-night national radio.

MGM chief Louis B. Mayer heard the bandleader sing "Poor Butterfly" on radio and ordered a screen test. It was a failure, but an agent landed Morris a contract at RKO, where he got a new name. He had enjoyed the music of Freddie Martin at the Coconut Grove, so he borrowed the name. "Tony" came from a magazine story.

His career at RKO was notable for a one-line bit in the 1936 "Follow the Fleet," which starred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He had better luck at Fox, but nightclubbing every night with a succession of film beauties detracted from his work.

"I was so busy having fun that I didn't even learn my lines," he admitted in 1955. "I muffed a wonderful chance, and that was the end of me for a while."

World War II brought the one big scandal in his life. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941 and was given a specialist ranking. A year later, a Navy officer who facilitated Martin's enlistment was court-martialed, accused of accepting a $950 automobile from him. The singer was not charged but was dismissed from the Navy for unfitness. He asked his draft board for immediate induction into the Army and served three years in Asia.

The scandal lingered over Martin's head after the war, but he managed to rebuild his career with radio, films, personal appearances and records.

He is survived by stepson Nico Charisse.

Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City was handling funeral arrangements.

Published by The Record/Herald News on Jul. 31, 2012.
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73 Entries
Valenda Newell
June 6, 2017
August 7, 2012
Tony and his beautiful wife Cyd will be remembered and loved as far away as Australia. I appreciate the magic moments they created for us on film and am grateful that I and others am able to enjoy these even though they are no longer with us. My best wishes for their family in this time of great sorrow. Together at last.
Marilyn V
August 5, 2012
One of my Mom's favorite songs, When we are dancing, and you're dangerously near me, "I get Ideas, I get Ideas". I remember the blue and silver RCA 45. They don't write them like that anymore. R.I.P. Tony. You were truly one of the all time greats.
Bob Chester
August 2, 2012
I so enjoyed his voice, his talent. He made the films he was in so much better. Plus he had a wonderful lasting marriage to Cyd....50 years until death... you don't see that too much anylonger in this fast paced world of today....................
August 2, 2012
Tony`s songs are endelible in my memories.His movies and solos introduced me to glamour and love and have stayed with me as a gift for a lifetime. Hall Groat Sr.
August 1, 2012
Thank you for all the joy you brought us with your beautiful voice- you will be missed- Prayers to you and your family- You are with Cyd now and will be in the house of the lord forever- bless you R.I.P.
Fred Hough
August 1, 2012
I have enjoyd your music over the many years. You are now singing with the Angels and God. An ardent fan --Sandra Slater Louisville Ky
August 1, 2012
My condolences to the family in your time of breavement. God assures us that if we draw close to him he will draw close to us. May your memories bring you comfort. James 4:8
Glenda Ford
August 1, 2012
There isn't many crooners left anymore.
Tony was a gift to ussent from God. Tony is singing for Him now. He was one of the finest crooners I ever heard.Thank you Tony.
Michael Wesby
August 1, 2012
I remember listening and dancing to your music when i was a teenager. R.I.P. dear Tony. God Bless your family. Bonnie Harrison
Bonnie Harrison
July 31, 2012
I remember watching him on variety TV shows. Another great gone from this world.
P. Burns
July 31, 2012
He was a TALENTED man. Tony Martin will be remembered ALWAYS. His voice & his zest for life I will admirs & respect always. sILVER bELLE
Marianne Rankin
July 31, 2012
Well, we lost another legend from the big band era and the golden age of hollywood! So sorry to learn that. There are not many left now and we who were there during that great time are really up in years too. May he rest in peace.
Gifford Holt
July 31, 2012
Mr. Tony will certainly be missed for his voice and his many talents. It is a blessing he had such a long life. Even though he was 98 its still difficult to know he is no longer here. May those that loved him find comfort is this promise. Isaiah 65:21-25
Brian M
July 31, 2012
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Theresa Rogers.
July 31, 2012
he was one of the best.what a wonderful,strong voice.i love the musicals he was in.his songs will last for future generations.not to many equals on the horizon.god bless him and his family.
george lamb
July 31, 2012
for every man theres a woman .see you up there.
Raymond Sulich Sr.
July 31, 2012
Sad to hear that Tony Martin has left us. He was always one of my favorite singers. He will be missed. R.I.P.
Kay Reckord Ames
July 31, 2012
you were one of my mothers favorite singers, may you rest in peace
Rachel C
July 31, 2012
My mom use to listen to him and I still love the songs and remember them. My grandfather and I danced to his music. He will be missed. Love the old music and songs.
sharon Malin
July 31, 2012
Karen Jablonski
July 31, 2012
Sad to hear that Tony Martin has passed away. How blessed he was to live 98 years. Had his own style of singing. Have some of his recordings. Used to tease my Mom that she had a crush on Tony Martin. My Mom, Dad and Mr. Martin were all around the same age. Good people who were blessed with a long life!
Alberta Salim Issaq
July 31, 2012
Condolences to
What a lifetime of memories
In a Spiritual peaceful Journey
in the colors of the Heavens'
Victoria&Andrew ~:~
July 31, 2012
What a wonderful entertainer for so many generations and a long happy marriage. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Linda Jackson
July 31, 2012
I was to young to listen to your music. I think you and your wife were an asset to this world. Your voice was a gift to us all. You will be sadly missed for your kindness and compassion.
linda p
July 31, 2012
God Bless you Tony. Your glorious voice will be singing now with the anggels >You were a favorite of mine. Rest in peace .You will be missed.
Irene Sullivan
July 31, 2012
Cyd and Tony were the most elegant Hollywood couple and so talented. Condolences to Tony's family, loving friends and devoted fans.
July 31, 2012
I had the pleasure of meeting Tony in 1999 - what a talent. I am trying to collect every recording Tony ever made. He was a great entertainer, a wonderful person, and an icon. He will be missed. Rest in peace crooner...
David Lobosco
July 31, 2012
Mr. Martin was an outstanding talent and his songs will live on forever. He is now where he would want to be, reunited with his wife, Cyd and their son, Tony. Heaven has another angel with a beautiful voice. JM, Austerlitz, NY
July 31, 2012
The best in the world. You will be missed more than you know.
Dennis and Ann Wilkinson
New Albany, Ohio
Den and Ann Wilkinson
July 31, 2012
May the Hearer of prayer give you the comfort needed during this time. Psalm 65:2
July 31, 2012
I was born in the 1960's but I know and remember him. My condolences to the family. RIP
July 31, 2012
Friends of our God, though they may pass away, will never be forsaken.
All those asleep who in God's memory stay,
From death He will awaken. Then we'll come to see, all that life can be.
Paradise eternally!
John 6:40
John 11:11,43
James 4:14
Lorraine Denson
July 31, 2012
Tony you were always tops in my book. I have much of your music. The entries I just read say it all. A life well lived.
Heaven will ring with much joy! B Starkey
Betty Starkey
July 31, 2012
I loved to listen to Tony, so sad to hear this. Condolences to the family.
July 31, 2012
The song is ended, but the melody lingers on...

Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.
Harry Simpson
July 31, 2012
Your voice was right up there with the best! I was always one of your fans.
July 31, 2012
Style, grace, charm, elegance...a 60-year marriage...a golden man with a golden voice who reminds of a golden age...thanks for the memories, Tony.
Gene Edwards
July 31, 2012
My wife & I took her parents to see Tony in A/C about 15 or so years ago . He still had a good strong voice and beamed with pride as he introduced his wife Cyd , who was in the back of the theater . I always enjoyed his music , R.I.P.
Steve Sullivan
July 31, 2012
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. (1 Timothy 1:2) . . .May there be undeserved kindness, mercy, peace from God [the] Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
July 31, 2012
I envied his voice. He was one of my favorites of all time. Richard Johnson, a true fan in Ohio. Rest in Peace, Tony.
rich johnson
July 31, 2012
Gone are the days of real talent. Tony Martin was so great-The last of the true entertainers. Wonderful memories of him!
July 31, 2012
I have many memories of good music throughout the years. Tony, you will be remembered.
Barbara Phillips
July 31, 2012
I think I saw all of your movies....You were great..............j peck
jack peck
July 31, 2012
So sorry for the lost of Tony, with his various talents in entertaining the world he will surely be missed. The comfort that God gives is a loving-kindess from him. Pslam 119:76
D Jackson
July 31, 2012
My Aunt, MAE BROWN and later MAE FREER was a great fan of TONY MARTIN. She said she wrote to Tony many times and had a scrapbook of all the newspaper articles she could find on Tony. Everytime my family would visit my Aunt, after dinner she would bring out all the Tony Martin 78rpm records and play them until it was time for us to go home. WHAT A VOICE! You will be missed Mr. Martin. FRED GARRISON
July 31, 2012
Many thanks to Tony Martin for the kindness he brought into the world and his example of a true good lover by remaining in love with and loving his lovely wife Cyd Charisse for 60 years. What an inspiration he always was to me.
Kit Sober
July 31, 2012
I use to watch all his movies and loved his wife cyd charisse known as the gal with the beautiful long legs as for tony always remember his singing esp. there is no tomorrow He lived a long time 98. loved hearing him to sing
dolores khodr
July 31, 2012
Farewell Pepe. You will be remembered.
Stan Smith
July 31, 2012
What a handsome actor he was. I still have my 78 recordings of him singing, "Marta" and "There's no Tomorrow". I loved him in the "Casbah"

May you rest in the "everlasting" arms of our savior.
Janet Downing
July 31, 2012
Tony, thank you for your many gifts to us. You'll be remembered and honored on the Music of the Stars.
Lou Rugani
July 31, 2012
He had a wonderful long life. Enjoyed his singing. Godspeed Tony.
Sheila Smith
July 30, 2012
Loved his music..Such a romantic..What a loss. What a wonderful marriage he had with Cyd..God bless..RIP..
Anne Pilgrim
July 30, 2012
To the Martin family my you find a measure of comfort in prayer and in the scriptures that tell us we will see our dear loved ones again. John 6:40
July 30, 2012
To the Martin family: Your loss is felt by many. Believe that Tony, Cyd, and their son, Tony are all together again. May you be surrounded by God's love during this very difficult time. A Fan
July 30, 2012
I always enjoyed Mr. Martin's singing. It was great to hear about his marriage to Cyd. What a testamony of love. May you rest in peace Mr. & Mrs. Martin. Psalm 46
David Nielsen
July 30, 2012
Please accept our innermost heartfelt sympathy. May the God of tender mercies embrace you all and bring the most wonderful memories to mind and may they fondle your heart with a smile.

1John 3:20 - God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.
Gloria Hicks
July 30, 2012
With deepest sympathy to the family during your time of sorrow. Psalms 46:1 says: God is for us a refuge and strength during this difficult time and may God grant you the comfort to endure.
July 30, 2012
I saw you perform at thr Copa in New York. I will always cherish that memory.
July 30, 2012
The Koppelman's loved meeting you in Aruba..We will miss you Tony..You are now with our Lord and Savior..Jesus Christ.
Shorty Koppeman
July 30, 2012
I knew Tony during the 60's and 70's. He did an ad for me for Heublein Cocktails in 1964.
He was a great singer, a fine man and a friend to people all over the world.
I'll miss you Tony Martin.

Jim Feeney
jim feeney
July 30, 2012
What a class act Tony and Cyd were. Rest in peace and thanks for the memories
July 30, 2012
Wonderful man, wonderful voice.

God speed Mr. Martin.

May God wrap His arms around his family during their time of mourning.

July 30, 2012
Our condolences to the family of Mr. Martin. What a wonderful talent.
~Psalms 46:1 God is a refuge and strength.
July 30, 2012
Whether hearing you sing, or watching you on the big screen you were always number one. How fortunate to be around to experience your talents. It must have been a wonderful feeling to be your friend. Rest in peace, Peppi.
Paul Seery
July 30, 2012
My deepest sympathy to Mr. Martin's family and friends. He was a classy guy with a great voice and manner. I was always a big fan of his as well as his lovely wife, Cyd. How lucky we were to have enjoyed their talents.
Joyce Baker
July 30, 2012
Thank you Tony and rest in peace.
Henryk Zaleski
July 30, 2012
Thank you for the pleasure you gave and the memories I have of a beautiful voice. Condolences to family members.
Nancy Jones
July 30, 2012
''god Bless You for your wonderful music... now you & Cyd are together again for Eternity. The musicals up there just improved a whole lot.
July 30, 2012
I enjoyed his songs but the one thing I remember about his acting is his playing Pepe le Moko in "Cashbah" in 1948. I have no idea why that movies stuck in my mind. I was certainly an impressionable 15 yr old!
He lived a long life and had a happy marriage, and deserves his peace now.
Marilyn Miller
July 30, 2012
You and Cyd showed my generation what grace and class looked like. I loved watching you both appear on TV programs in the day. God bless the wonderfully long, full life you had until the very end. I know that you are probably catching up with Cyd on the other side of the Veil--a Heavenly place to be!

Peace and comfort go to those who mourn your passing. With deepest sympathy.
Ronda Reed
July 30, 2012
Remembering this handsome man and his beautiful voice. Condolences to his friends and family.
July 30, 2012
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