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latest news Conductor Ray Anthony turns 100

It’s been more than 65 years since more than 1,500 artists were selected for immortality on the sidewalks of Hollywood. Only a few dozen of those first inductees are still with us. Among many of his endurance-based accolades, bandleader Ray Anthony is one of the oldest surviving members of that first class of Hollywood Walk of Fame stars. (Actress Marsha Hunt, who would have been Anthony’s freshman year senior, holds the record at 104.)

On January 20, Anthony celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by friends and Perry Anthony, his only descendant, son from his brief marriage to actress Mamie Van Doren. Anthony’s Hollywood Hills property remains as he envisioned it in 1975, with lush carpets, a sunken dining room, and ocean views, weather permitting. Amidst balloons in the shape of the number “100” and the arrival of a pizza decorated with the number engraved in the olives, Anthony remarks that “they really wanted to remind me of my age!” Although his hearing has diminished considerably, his memory is still vivid. Amid a flurry of well-wishers ringing the phone and at the front door, Anthony took time to reflect on his century of stories with a sly sense of self and appreciation for all he had seen in road course.

Ray Anthony plays trumpet in 1948.

(Metronome/Getty Images)

After his father handed 5-year-old Ray Anthony a trumpet at their Cleveland home, he became addicted to the horn, eventually becoming a teenage disciple of Harry James, the trumpet-playing actor-bandleader of jazz who was only half a dozen years old. older than him. While still a teenager, Anthony found himself thrust into the big time as a member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, a cocky brassman to a bandstand full of world-weary men. He lasted less than two years with the group and was notably fired twice, his strong chops looking attractive enough for a second chance but not a third. “Some of the musicians teased me because I was so young in band number one,” Anthony recalled. “He was tough but it’s a business. You don’t have much time to do anything other than follow the lines.

At the end of 1941, the acceleration of the war disturbed the frivolity of the big band scene and many musicians offered their talents inside. As a result, Anthony found himself in the navy, entertaining the troops at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, then still a tense battlefield.

Anthony emerged from the war with his fine Hollywood features and the confidence of a veteran showman, spending the next twelve years on television and radio across America. His resemblance to Cary Grant was a punch for both men. The Ray Anthony Orchestra was a prolific ensemble, releasing countless dance singles in the early 1950s, including “The Hokey Pokey” and “The Bunny Hop”—trifles that captivated a national audience almost immediately. His contributions to the lost art of the boogie (“Trumpet Boogie”, “Mr. Anthony’s Boogie”, “Big Band Boogie”) and the foxtrot, which were often accompanied by a few dance moves by the enterprising Arthur Murray, were also successful. Anthony’s occasional trumpet solos were melodic and deliberate, but less the result of brilliant improvisation and more intended to heighten the frenzy of the dance floor with force rather than filigree. The hours were rigorous and the tours exhausting, with 18 band members and their gear traveling from coast to coast without stopping. “If I had to go, they had to go,” Anthony joked.

latest news Conductor Ray Anthony turns 100

Mickey Rooney, left, and Marilyn Monroe, center, appear with bandleader Ray Anthony during a 1952 record release for his band’s single “Marilyn.”

(Illustrated Parade/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most legendary of Anthony’s exploits was the 1952 release party of his orchestra’s fainted single “Marilyn,” written for the then-unknown Mrs. Monroe. Befitting the glamor of her ingenue profile, Monroe arrived at the party in a Bell helicopter wearing a radiant pink dress that would have been visible hundreds of feet above the crowd, long before any of the guests don’t know who was coming. Not even Anthony was aware of his planned presence. In response to being asked if her husband Joe DiMaggio had joined the other high-profile guests such as Mickey Rooney and Sammy Davis Jr., Anthony laughingly noted that he “wasn’t invited.” These little helicopters could only hold a certain personality, and the recently unearthed photos of Monroe and Anthony, trumpet in hand, leave little room for anyone else.

Anthony’s adoration of spiky-heeled Hollywood blondes was a constant line in his public and private life. Her tumultuous marriage to famed bombshell Van Doren in 1955 was tabloid fodder for the rest of the decade before things dramatically imploded. But Anthony’s son, Perry, was the positive outcome of their brief coupling. During the birthday party, Perry fondly recalled the Beatles albums his father had brought home from work. “I wish I still had them now,” he remarked wistfully.

latest news Conductor Ray Anthony turns 100

Actress Mamie Van Doren almost kisses a man as her then-husband Ray Anthony pretends to be jealous at an event in Los Angeles

(Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

In the mid-1950s, Anthony studied with acting teachers Estelle Harman and Sanford Meisner. “I needed all the help I could get,” Anthony remarked. Although acting was never the focus of his career, he did appear in several notable films, including “High School Confidential.” and the three-time Oscar-nominated “Daddy Long Legs” with Fred Astaire. But that was her appearance in the 1956 teenage call-to-arms “The Girl Can’t Help It.” which had the longest impact.

In one of the funniest scenes in this movie, Jayne Mansfield, in the middle of a recording session, buys an apple from a vending machine inside the recording studio and sits down with the Ray Anthony Orchestra as they bounce on “Rock Around the Rock”. Heads.” At the end of the tune, Mansfield’s character, whose voice already broke glass earlier in the film, leans into the microphone for his role as the wailing police siren. Little Richard and Eddie’s performances Cochran inspired impressionable young musicians like Paul McCartney and John Lennon to pursue their rock ‘n’ roll dreams, but it was Anthony’s box office profitability that helped sell the film to producers.

By the early ’60s, Anthony had already strode through the ’40s and ’50s vigorously. and Grand Funk Railroad and the Beach Boys upon his departure.

latest news Conductor Ray Anthony turns 100

Ray Anthony at his home in Hollywood Hills for his 100th birthday.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Anthony continued to perform regularly well into his 90s, sometimes leading his own unit, sometimes joining a veteran big band supergroup. He maintained an eight-decade streak of TV appearances as something of a Barney Rubble to friend Hugh Hefner’s Fred Flintstone on E! in the early 2010s, but mostly enjoyed the brilliance of his unparalleled career as a swinging mid-century American cad, pool parties high above Sunset Boulevard at his fingertips.

Today, more than 60 years after receiving his Hollywood star, Anthony’s trumpet still sits at his bedside, a musical relationship that predates the first transatlantic flight and the presidency of Herbert Hoover. He offered no secrets about his longevity, but noted that his son’s parents had lived for over 190 years. (Van Doren turns 91 on February 6.)

Everyone agreed that Perry had inherited good genes and by all accounts the ever-playful and cheeky Mr. Anthony had a pretty good century.

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