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July 31, 2012

Tony Martin, Singer and Actor Whose Career Spanned the 1930s to the 21st Century

Although best known for his singing and film roles, Martin often appeared on television. He had his own show in the early 1950s, and earned a Primetime Emmy nomination in 1955.

Tony Martin, a singer and actor got his start in nightclubs and radio and went on to become a popular film and television performer, died July 27, 2012, at his Los Angeles home. He was 98.

According to news reports, Martin died of natural causes.

Martin, a San Francisco native who rose to fame as a singer whose smooth baritone made him a popular performer in the 1930s. Although he did not rise to the heights of such peers as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, the handsome and easygoing Martin was a frequent presence in Hollywood musicals through the 1950s.

As a recording artist, his most popular song was "There's No Tomorrow," adapted from the traditional Neapolitan ballad "O Solo Mio."

In all, Martin appeared in some 25 movies, including Sing Baby Sing, Pigskin Parade, Follow the Fleet, Banjo on My Knee, Sing and Be Happy, You Can’t Have Everything, Ali Baba Goes to Town, Sally, Irene and Mary, The Ziegfeld Girl, The Big Store, Till the Clouds Roll By, Easy to Love, Deep in My Heart and Casbah.

In addition, Martin toured as a singer in the U.S. and Europe and had a yearly contract at the Palladium in London.

As television grew in popularity in the 1950s, Martin embraced the new medium, and in 1954 hosted The Tony Martin Show. He was also a frequent guest on talk shows and variety shows, including those hosted by such stars as Arthur Godfrey, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin, as well as The Tonight Show.

Other TV work included The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Hollywood Palace, The Jack Benny Program, The George Burns Show, Shower of Stars, The Donna Reed Show, Death Valley Days and The Name of the Game. He also guested on such game shows as What’s My Line and The Hollywood Squares.

In 1995, Martin earned a Primetime Emmy nomination in the category of Best Male Singer.

Into his nineties, Martin continued to make occasional singing appearances, and earned praise from a New York Times critic as recently as 2008.

Martin married two major musical stars — actress Alice Faye, his wife from 1937 to 1940, and Cyd Charisse, whom he wed in 1948 and remained married to until her death in 2008.

He is survived by a stepson, Nico Charisse.

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