Ray Evans accepting his SCL Ambassadors honor from SCL President Dan Foliart at the 2003 SCL Holiday Dinner.
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 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, which it seems that he more or less achieved.
Ray 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 and 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 Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Perhaps most importantly, his songs were always composed for individually-crafted moments in the films.
by Dan Foliart, excerpted from The SCORE (Spring 2004)
In this clip at the 2003 SCL Christmas Dinner, Ray Evans receives one of the SCL’s Ambassador Awards. Walking up to the mic, he graciously recants the serendipitous twists and turns that made such hits as Mona Lisa, Buttons and Bows and Que Sera Sera.
Ray Evans, with his partner, Jay Livingston, both won three Academy Awards: in 1948 for the song Buttons and Bows, written for the movie The Paleface, in 1950 for the song Mona Lisa, written for the movie Captain Carey, U.S.A., and in 1956 for the Doris Day song Que Sera Sera, featured in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.