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Ray Evans

Pictured above is Ray Evans accepting his SCL Ambassadors honor from SCL President Dan Foliart at the 2003 SCL Holiday Dinner.

Ray Evans
February 4, 1915 - February 15, 2007

The Society of Composers & Lyricists grieves the sudden loss of our dear friend, colleague, and SCL Ambassador, Ray Evans, who passed away Thursday, February 15, 2007, at UCLA Medical Center, the result of a heart attack. He was 92. He is survived his sister. His wife, Wyn, passed away in 2003.

I have lost a dear friend and our community has lost one of the most prolific and talented songwriters of our time. Ray Evans has passed away and with him, one of the links to the golden age of film is gone. Ray's youthful spirit and enthusiasm for our business was never diminished and many of us knew him well. After becoming the SCL's first Ambassador, Ray was a frequent figure at our festivities. I'm proud that this organization honored him during his time, and although he will be missed, I'm comforted in the fact that he knew how much we appreciated all that he had brought to our profession.

Within the last year Ray and his songs were celebrated in a wonderful Cabaret show, that featured a very entertaining Ray Evans on stage recounting the exploits of a young Livingston and Evans songwriting team moving up the ladder to become two of the icons of American song. Recently, he also had the opportunity to be honored in his home town of Buffalo, New York and hear his songs performed symphonically in San Diego. Our SCORE magazine featured a wonderful interview in our Fall 2006 issue with Lori Barth that I encourage you to read. Below is an excerpt of my speech when we feted Ray at our holiday dinner in December of 2003.

The SCL created the Ambassador Program to recognize and acknowledge a select group of composers and lyricists without whose valuable contributions our profession would be less than it is; without whose creativity our artistic community would be lacking and without whose gift, our society would be deprived of wonderful music and song expressed by their genius. Their achievements will be used as the ultimate standard for future generations of film composers and songwriters

In recognition of his immeasurable contributions to the art of film music, Ray Evans is hereby designated the first Ambassador of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, December 11, 2003 Los Angeles, California.

Ray Evans, along with his partner, Jay Livingston has written some of the most memorable songs in the American songbook, garnering three Oscars and seven Academy Award nominations.

Starting as an entertaining duo on a steamship cruise after meeting at the University of Pennsylvania, they began their careers playing for fraternity dances, Ray on sax and clarinet. Ray had aspirations toward a career in banking, but soon found songs were his calling.

Ray started writing songs part time, until Eddie Cantor sang Oh gee, Oh gosh, oh golly I'm in love in the Ziegfield Follies and shortly thereafter was awarded a contract with the Paramount Music Department in 1945. He wrote To Each his Own, which sold over a million copies of sheet music and this really started him on his road to fame.

Other classics soon followed, Mona Lisa, Silver Bells, Buttons and Bows, Never Let me Go, Tammy, Que Sera, Sera, Dreamsville, Dear Heart, and Golden Earrings to mention just a few, as well as his memorable themes to Bonanza and Mr. Ed.

Besides writing with Jay, the duo collaborated with many esteemed members of our community including Victor Young, Max Steiner and Henry Mancini. They contributed songs to many of Bob Hope's movies and even went with him on a USO tour. He essentially wrote for everyone who was anyone, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra Dinah Shore, Andy Williams to only mention a few.

Some of his biggest challenges: Writing a song for Alfred Hitchcock titled Vertigo. Jay asked their singer what it meant, whose response was an island in the West Indies. Jay said no it's in the English Channel. They were both wrong. Another was the theme song to The Mole People for Universal.

Ray has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he was saluted with a special presentation by the Academy of Motion Pictures and perhaps most importantly his songs were always composed for individually crafted moments in the film.

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