Velvet-voiced baritone Tony Martin, whose career spanned from the Great Depression to the 21st century, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 98.
Friend and accountant Beverly Scott revealed Martin passed away Friday of natural causes at his home in West Los Angeles.
“He’s the ultimate crooner who outlasted all is contemporaries,” musician and longtime friend Gabriel Guerrero said from his Oregon home.
The Washington Post writes Martin recently sang to Guerrero over the telephone.
“He has truly remained the butterscotch baritone until he was 98,” Guerrero added.
Born on Christmas Day in 1913, Martin developed an interest in music at an early age, becoming a instrumentalist and a singer for his grammar school glee club.
Following his high school years, Tony 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.
A romantic idol for at least one generation, Martin’s hit recordings include “I Get Ideas,” ”To Each His Own,” ”Begin the Beguine” and “There’s No Tomorrow.”
Although he never became a full-fledged movie star, Martin was featured in a handful of films, most of them made during the heyday of the Hollywood musicals.
After signing with 20th Century-Fox in the late 30s, Martin appeared in movies such as “Pigskin Parade” (featuring 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.”
Off-screen, he married two movie musical superstars, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse. His marriage to Cyd Charisse lasted for over six decades, until her death in 2008.
He is survived by stepson Nico Charisse.
In memory of Tony Martin, watch his charming rendition of “Did Ya Ever Love Like This Before” in the video below: