Born Alvin Morris on December 25, 1913, Tony Martin, as he was known professionally, was a pop singer and actor whose career spanned over seven decades. Between the late 1930s and the mid-1950s, he scored dozens of hit singles with songs such as “I Love Paris”, “Stranger in Paradise”, “I Get Ideas”, and “Walk Hand In Hand”.
Tony Martin is remembered for being one of the most beloved crooners of his day. He had a smooth baritone voice and handsome looks to suit. While he may not have been quite as popular as some of his contemporaries like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, he still left his mark on the music industry in a very large way and is credited with helping popularize the Big Band and Jazz standards music genres of the time.
As an actor, Martin starred in hit films such as 1936s Follow the Fleet, 1937s The Holy Terror, 1941s The Big Store, and 1952s Clash By Night. In the latter’s soundtrack, he can be heard singing the song “I Hear a Rhapsody”.
Though he experienced much success throughout his career, Tony Martin experienced his fair share of struggle and strife as well. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 98, but just one year prior, in 2011, his son Tony Martin Jr passed away after being severely injured in a horrific car accident. Three years before that, on June 17, 2008. his beloved wife of sixty years, Cyd Charisse, died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 86.
In this video, we’ll be taking a look at the life and death’s of both Tony Martin and his son Tony Martin Jr. While younger viewers might not be that familiar with him, Martin was one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry back in the day. His story is one that deserves to be told even if it might not be quite as sensational as some of the other stars of the mid-20th century.
Facts Verse Presents: The Tragic Deaths of Tony Martin & His Son Tony Martin Jr.
A Life Of Accomplishments
Tony Martin was born to immigrant parents, Hattie and Edward Clarence Morris. His family hailed from Eastern Europe and were Jewish. While he was born in San Francisco, he was raised in Oakland.
At the age of 10, Tony was given a saxophone as a present from his grandmother.
While attending Oakland High School, Martin was a member of the glee club. He went on to develop his love for music by becoming an instrumentalist and singer. Not only did he learn how to play the sax, but he also picked up the clarinet as well.
While attending Oakland Technical High School, he formed his first band, The Red Peppers. From there, he eventually joined the band of a local orchestra leader named Tom Gerun. With Gerun’s band, Martin played the saxophone, sitting behind another future musical legend, bandleader Woody Herman.
After graduating from High School, Martin attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. After finishing up his secondary education, Martin left Gerun’s band and made his way out to Hollywood to take a stab at acting. It was around this time that he dropped his birth name and adopted the Tony Martin stage name.
On the radio, Martin sang and MC’d for the CBS program Tune-Up Time with Andre Kostelanetz. NBC gave him his very own 15-minute variety program called The Tony Martin Show, which aired from 1954 to 1956 right before the evening newscast. One of his guests on that program was a young Dinah Shore. She would later star in her own hour-long NBC variety show.
George Burns and Gracie Allen invited Martin on their radio program as a featured vocalist. On that show, Allen was heard playfully flitting with Tony while threatening to fire him in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
After paying his dues on the radio, Martin was cast in a number of bit parts in feature films like 1936s Follow the Fleet. In that film, he shared the screen with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. He eventually landed contracts with MGM and 20th-Century Fox. After appearing in several musicals, he received top billing with the Marx Brothers in their last film with MGM, The Big Store. In that film, he performed his song “Tenement Symphony’.
In 1942, Martin joined the US Navy as a chief specialist. He ended up getting dismissed from service, however, a year later for ‘unfitness’, after he testified at the court martial of one of his fellow officers. Apparently, he had been enlisted after the officer failed twice to obtain a commission for him. In the trial, Martin said that he bribed the officer by giving him a car worth $950 in order to “facilitate” his enlistment.
After leaving the Navy, Martin was drafted into the Army and assigned to the Army Air Forces. He was then assigned to Captain Glenn Miller’s unit upon Glenn’s request. Reportedly Miller considered Tony to be the best singer in the armed forces.
Martin later was promoted to sergeant in the Air Transport Command. He was stationed in India, where he was put to work as an entertainer. He ended up forming a talent troupe that would travel around the various bases in the region to perform.
After World War II ended, Martin signed a record deal with Mercury Records, who at the time were just a small indie label out of Chicago. He went on to cut 25 records between 1946 and 1947, including his hit 1946 record “To Each His Own”. The album was awarded a Gold Disc by the RIAA and sold more than a million copies.
After finding success with To Each His Own, Martin signed with RCA Victor after satisfying his contractual obligations with Mercury. Throughout the remainder of the 40s and into the 1950s Martin continued to appear in film musicals.
By 1958, he had become the highest-paid performer in Las Vegas. Reportedly, after signing a five-year deal with the Desert Inn, he was earning a cool 25 grand a week.
In the 1960s, Martin recorded for Motown Records scoring a major hit with the record “Talkin’ to Your Picture. By the 70s, however, his musical career had began to wane. During this decade, he was most notably a TV spokesperson for the Lady Brevoni brand of Pantyhose.
Martin spent the remainder of his life married to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse. As we noted in the intro, she ended up passing away in 2008. Four years later, Martin died of natural causes on the evening of July 27, 2012, at the age of 98.
The Death Of Tony Martin Jr.
Tony Martin Jr was born on August 28, 1950.
On October 31, 2008, he was driving north on I-5 in California, presumably on his way home from work. Martin Jr had just passed the Templin Highway interchange when he lost control of the vehicle and veered abruptly towards what should have been a guardrail. Unfortunately, the section of guardrail that he would have hit had been destroyed a week prior in another accident. As such, his car plummeted off the embankment and rolled several times before coming to an abrupt halt.
Tony was seriously hurt in the accident. His injuries included a broken pelvis, broken knee and severe cranial fractures. He spent a total of five weeks in the hospital in a coma before awakening.
Following the accident, his mental faculties were discovered to have been diminished to that of a five-year-old child. Tony Jr.’s wife, Liv Lindeland Martin, ended up suing the State of California in 2006, but the state maintatined that there hadn’t been enough time to repair the guardrail in the week since it’s original; damage and removal, as at the time all availble CalTrans employees were busy handling wildfires that were impacting the expressways in other areas throughout the state. They further maintained that even if the guardrail had been in place, it likely wouldn’t have saved Tony Martin Jr from his injuries, and that the accident was his fault and not caused by the road conditions.
The State of California ended up losing their case. Liv Lindeland Martin was awarded with $893,000 in direct damages and a further $9.2 million in future damages since Tony Martin Jr. required around-the-clock care.
Sadly, Tony Martin Jr. died on the 10th of April, 2011. His father died a little over a year later, on July 27th 2012. Following their deaths, Liv Lindeland Martin sold the Martin estate and moved back to her home country of Norway.
It’s absolutely heartbreaking to learn the details of Tony Martin Jr’s death. Perhaps his tragic death led to the passing of his father just a year later. After all, at that point, Tony Martin Sr. had lost just about everyone that he loved.
On that mournful note, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up. Before you go, however, take a moment to show us a little support by sharing your thoughts in the comments. Did you know that Tony Martin Jr was not only a succesful singer but also an accomplished film star? And were you aware that his son Tony Martin Jr was left severely impaired after getting into a car accident in 2008 and that he ended up dying just three years later in 2011? let us know, and as always, thanks for watching!