By Justine Espersen:
Singer-actor Tony Martin, best known for his romantic crooner roles in movie musicals from the 1930s-50s, has died at 98.
He died of natural causes in his West Los Angeles home, his friend and accountant Beverly Scott told the Associated Press Monday.
“He’s the ultimate crooner who outlasted all his contemporaries,” musician and longtime friend Gabriel Guerrero told the AP in a phone interview. “He has truly remained the butterscotch baritone until he was 98.”
Martin appeared in more than 30 films, typically as a crooner of romantic ballads. His most memorable roles include “Ziegfeld Girl” and “Cabash.”
He was originally born Alvin Morris on Dec. 25, 1913 in San Francisco to Edward and Hattie Morris. His parents, who were Jewish immigrants from Poland, divorced when he was young. He considers his stepfather, Myer Myers, as his own father.
“I always sang,” Martin wrote, according to AP. “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.”
After being brought to Hollywood in 1934 for a screen test, he eventually adopted the stage name Tony Martin.
Martin married singer-actress Alice Faye after staring in the musical comedy “Sing, Baby, Sing.” They split in 1941.
Later, Martin remarried Cy Charisse in 1948, after meeting at a dinner party. Together they had a son, Tony Martin Jr., who died in 2011 at 60. Their marriage lasted for 60 years, until Charisse’s death in 2008.
His stepson, Nico Charisse, and his two grandchildren survive Martin.