Livingston, Jay (originally, Levison, Jacob Haroia), and Ray(mond Bernard) Evans

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Livingston, Jay (originally, Levison, Jacob Haroia), and Ray(mond Bernard) Evans

Livingston, Jay (originally, Levison, Jacob Haroia), and Ray(mond Bernard) Evans, American songwriting team. Livingston (b. McDonald, Pa., March 28, 1915) composed the music and cowrote the lyrics with Evans (b. Salamanca, N.Y., Feb. 4, 1915) for their songs, which were used in at least 90 feature films between 1944 and 1976. Their efforts brought them seven Academy Award nominations and three Oscars, for “Buttons and Bows,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Será, Será).” Their other hits included “G’Bye Now,” “To Each His Own,” and “Tammy,” and they also wrote the holiday standard “Silver Bells.”

Evans was the son of Philip Evans and Frances Lipsitz Evans; his father was a junk dealer. He played saxophone and clarinet in his school orchestra. In 1933, while attending the Univ. of Pa., he met Livingston, the son of Maurice Levison, a shoe store owner, and Rose Wachtel Levison. Livingston had studied harmony and piano with Harry Archer and orchestration with Harl McDonald, played in his school orchestra, and worked in a band while attending high school. In 1934, Evans recommended Livingston as pianist for a band in which he was playing that had been hired to work on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic. The two spent their Easter and summer vacations from college traveling the world on such cruises. Evans graduated in 1936 with a B. S. in economics. Livingston graduated in 1937 with a B. A. in journalism. After a final cruise to Scandinavia in the summer of 1937, the two moved to N.Y. to become songwriters.

The team struggled for several years. Livingston worked as a pianist and arranger for radio, while Evans became an accountant. Livingston was hired as a rehearsal pianist for the musical comedy revue Hellzapop-pin (N.Y., Sept. 22, 1938) starring the comedians Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, and he and Evans began to write special material for them. Their first successful song, “G’Bye Now” (music and lyrics also by Olsen and Johnson), was written for, but not used in, the film version of Hellzapoppin; nevertheless, it became a Top Ten hit for Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights in May 1941. Livingston and Evans then contributed to the next Olsen and Johnson stage revue, Sons o’ Fun (N.Y., Dec. 1, 1941).

Livingston and Evans’s progress was interrupted by the U.S. entry into World War II; Livingston joined the service in 1942, and Evans took a job in a defense plant. Livingston was discharged in 1943 and went back to work as a pianist and arranger, while Evans began writing for radio. In February 1944 they moved to Calif. to concentrate on songwriting for the movies. There Livingston attended UCLA, studying orchestration and film scoring with Leith Stevens and Earle Hagen. The songwriters began to find work with the independent studio the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), starting with the 1944 film Swing Hostess. In April 1945, Betty Hutton peaked in the Top Ten with her recording of their song “Stuff Like That There,” and it was used in the Universal film On Stage Everybody, released in July. The PRC August release Why Girls Leave Home included “The Cat and the Canary,” which earned Livingston and Evans their first Academy Award nomination. That month, they were contracted to Paramount Pictures.

Livingston and Evans had songs in three Paramount features released in 1946, but their most successful song for the year was one written to promote a film. “To Each His Own” was not actually used in the movie of that name issued by Paramount in May, but in June Eddy Howard and His Orch. reached the charts with their recording of the song, hitting #1 in August and selling a million copies. Remarkably, a cover version by Freddy Martin and His Orch. also topped the charts, as did The Ink Spots’ million-selling recording, while Tony Martin scored a Top Ten million-seller with the song, and there was a fifth Top Ten record by the Modernaires with Paula Kelly.

Livingston and Evans were both married in 1947, Livingston to Lynne Gordon on March 19, Evans to Wyn Ritchie on April 19. Livingston adopted his wife’s daughter from a previous marriage; the Evanses remained childless. (After the death of his first wife, Livingston married actress Shirley Mitchell on May 16, 1992.) The songwriters had songs in four films released by Paramount during the year, notably the title song for the December release Golden Earrings, for which they wrote the lyrics to music by Victor Young. It was recorded by Peggy Lee for a Top Ten hit. They had songs in five Paramount features in 1948, scoring a massive success with “Buttons and Bows,” used in the Bob Hope comedy The Paleface. Prior to the release of the film in December, the song was given six chart recordings, among them Dinah Shore’s #1 version, which was the biggest hit of the year and sold a million copies. The song also won the 1948 Academy Award.

Livingston and Evans had songs in six films released in 1949 and in another six in 1950. They wrote “Mona Lisa” for Captain Carey, U.S.A., released in March 1950. Though the song was never sung in its entirety—or in English—in the film, it inspired seven chart records, the most successful of which was Nat “King” Cole’s chart-topping, million-selling rendition. The song won the 1950 Academy Award. Dean Martin sang Livingston and Evans’s “I’ll Always Love You” in My Friend Irma Goes West, released in August, and his recording made the charts in September. That month, Bing Crosby and Carol Richards recorded the team’s seasonal song “Silver Bells” from the forthcoming Bob Hope film The Lemon Drop Kid, which opened in March 1951. Their recording took seven years to reach the charts, but “Silver Bells” became a perennial Christmas favorite.

In addition to The Lemon Drop Kid, Livingston and Evans had songs in nine other films released in 1951 and in another five in 1952. Their next chart record came in October 1952 with a song later featured in their first film of 1953, Thunder in the East, “The Ruby and the Pearl,” recorded by Nat “King” Cole. It was one of six films to feature Livingston and Evans songs during 1953. The songwriters contributed to only three films in 1954, but they also scored a television musical, Satins and Spurs, broadcast in September.

After 1954, with Hollywood’s interest in making original movie musicals on the wane, Livingston and Evans tended to place only one or two songs in non-musical films; frequently, these were title songs. They had songs in only two features released in 1955 and in only three in 1956. In April 1956, Paramount released The Scarlet Hour, which featured their “Never Let Me Go,” recorded for a chart entry by Nat “King” Cole. In May the studio issued the Alfred Hitchcock-directed thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which Doris Day sang “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Será, Será).” Day’s recording hit the Top Ten and sold a million copies, becoming her signature song. She sang it in two subsequent films and used it as the theme for her television series, The Doris Day Show, from 1968 to 1973. It also won the songwriters their third Academy Award.

“Whatever Will Be, Will Be” marked a considerable comeback for Livingston and Evans; it also marked the end of their tenure at Paramount Pictures. They wrote songs for four films released by three different studios in 1957, scoring another major hit with “Tammy” from Universal’s June release Tammy and the Bachelor starring Debbie Reynolds, who recorded it for a #1 million-seller. The song also earned an Academy Award nomination.

Livingston and Evans’s recent success led to a busy 1958 in which they contributed songs to nine motion pictures and saw their first Broadway musical staged. The show, Oh Captain!, opened in February and ran 192 performances. From the score, Johnny Mathis recorded “All the Time” for a Top 40 hit. The songwriters’ title song for the May film Another Time, Another Place was heard only instrumentally in the picture, but Patti Page recorded it for a Top 40 hit. Sam Cooke sang “Almost in Your Arms” in Houseboat, released in November, but the chart version was by Johnny Nash. The song was nominated for an Academy Award.

Livingston and Evans enjoyed two Top 40 revivals of “Mona Lisa” in 1959, by Carl Mann and Conway Twitty, and they wrote songs for three films during the year. But their chief success came on television. In February their second TV musical, No Man Can Tame Me, was broadcast, and they wrote the title songs for two series that debuted in the fall. The Western drama Bonanza ran for more than 13 years, making its theme one of Livingston and Evans’s most familiar tunes. Al Caiola and His Orch. had a Top 40 hit with an instrumental version of it in 1961, and Johnny Cash took a vocal version into the charts in 1962. A Bonanza album featuring performances by the show’s stars also reached the charts in 1962. The team contributed lyrics to Henry Mancini’s music for the theme from Mr. Lucky, which ran for a year. Mancini’s instrumental recording of the song became a Top 40 hit.

Livingston and Evans were less active in the early 1960s. The Platters scored a Top 40 hit with a revival of “To Each His Own” in October 1960. The duo wrote the theme for the 1961 television comedy series Mr. Ed, and it was sung on the program by Livingston; the show ran five years. Let It Ride!, the team’s second Broadway musical, opened in October 1961 and ran 68 performances. The High Keyes had a chart revival of “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Será, Será)” in July 1963, and the Tymes revived “To Each His Own” for a chart entry in March 1964.

In the mid-1960s, Livingston and Evans frequently set lyrics to movie themes written by the composers who wrote the film scores. In the fall of 1964, Andy Williams, Jack Jones, and Henry Mancini each reached the charts with competing versions of the title song for the film Dear Heart (music by Mancini, lyrics by Livingston and Evans) in advance of its March 1965 release; the Williams and Jones versions hit the Top 40 and the song was nominated for an Academy Award. Livingston and Evans also wrote the lyrics for “Angel” (music by Max Steiner), which reached the charts for Johnny Tillotson in February 1965, two months before the release of the film Those Calloways, in which it was featured. In July 1965, Bobby Vinton reached the charts with “Theme from Harlow (Lonely Girl)” (music by Neal Hefti, lyrics by Livingston and Evans), used in the film biography of actress Jean Harlow, released that month. This Property Is Condemned, released in August 1966, included the song “Wish Me a Rainbow” (music and lyrics by Livingston and Evans); the Gunter Kallmann Chorus recorded it for a chart entry. The same month saw the release of What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, which featured “In the Arms of Love” (music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Livingston and Evans), recorded for a chart entry by Andy Williams. Mancini also reached the charts with his instrumental soundtrack album.

Frankie Laine revived “To Each His Own” for a chart entry in January 1968. Livingston and Evans wrote the title song for the TV series To Rome with Love, which premiered in September 1969 and ran two years. Mary Hopkin reached the charts with a revival of “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Será, Será)” in July 1970. The duo wrote English lyrics for the Spanish hit “Eres Tu (Touch the Wind)” (music by Joan Calderon Lopez), which hit the Top Ten for Mocedades in March 1974. Willie Nelson revived “Mona Lisa” for a Top 40 country hit in 1981.


(only works for which Livingston and Evans were primary, credited songwriters are listed): films:Swing Hostess (1944); I Accuse My Parents (1944); Why Girls Leave Home (1945); Monsieur Beaucaire (1946); Double Rhythm (1946); My Favorite Brunette (1947); Golden Earrings (1947); Isn’t It Romantic? (1948); The Paleface (1948); Bride of Vengence (1949); Sorrowful Jones (1949); My Friend Irma (1949); The Great Lover (1949); My Friend Irma Goes West (1950); Fancy Pants (1950); The Lemon Drop Kid (1951); Rhubarb (1951); Here Comes the Groom (1951); Anything Can Happen (1952); Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1952); What Price Glory? (1952); Somebody Loves Me (1952); Son of Paleface (1952); The Stars Are Singing (1953); Off Limits (1953); Here Come the Girls (1953); Red Garters (1954); The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956); Omar Khayyam (1957); A Private’s Affair (1959); All Hands on Deck (1961); The Oscar (1966). television:Satins and Spurs (Sept. 12, 1954); No Man Can Tame Me (Feb. 1, 1959). musicals (dates refer to N.Y. openings): Oh Captain! (Feb. 4, 1958); Let It Ride! (Oct. 12, 1961).

—William Ruhlmann

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Livingston, Jay (originally, Levison, Jacob Haroia), and Ray(mond Bernard) Evans

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