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Ray Evans
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Bernard Evans
Born(1915-02-04)February 4, 1915
Salamanca, New York, United States
DiedFebruary 15, 2007(2007-02-15) (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Formerly ofJay Livingston

Raymond Bernard Evans (February 4, 1915 – February 15, 2007) was an American songwriter. He was a partner in a composing and song-writing duo with Jay Livingston, known for the songs they composed for films. Evans wrote the lyrics and Livingston wrote the music.[1]


Evans was born to a Jewish family[2][3] in Salamanca, New York, to Philip and Frances Lipsitz Evans.[4] He was valedictorian of his high school class, where he played clarinet in the band. The Salamanca High School yearbook from 1931 states: "His original themes and brilliant oral talks are the despair of his classmates. Ray's quite a humorist, too. At times, his satire is positively killing."[5] He received a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1936, writing a senior thesis on "The relation between the central bank, member banks and the money market."[1]

Evans met Jay Livingston while a student at Penn. Together they played in the university's college dance orchestra, "The Continentals." During school vacations the orchestra was engaged to play on several international cruises. After graduation the duo continued their partnership, seeking a career as a song-writing team in New York and later Hollywood.[6] Their first big break came after auditioning for comedians Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson in 1939. Their song "G'Bye Now" made it into Olsen and Johnson's Broadway revue Hellzapoppin'. In 1946 Livingston and Evans signed a contract with Paramount Studios in Hollywood.[7]

Livingston and Evans did not hit the top until 1946, when they set the music publishing business on fire with "To Each His Own," which reached number one on the Billboard charts for three different artists,[8] and occupied the top five positions on the "Most Played On the Air" chart for four different weeks (August 24, 1946, and again on September 7, September 14 and October 5, five versions appeared simultaneously in the Top Ten).[9][10][11][12] "Buttons and Bows" (1947) was their next multi-million seller", written for the movie The Paleface, with four artists reaching the top ten in 1948, and won the Academy Award for Best Song. They finished off the decade with 1949's "Mona Lisa", written for the movie Captain Carey, U.S.A.. It was a chart hit for seven popular and two country artists in 1950, sold a million for Nat King Cole, and won the pair another Best Song Oscar.[13][14]

Livingston and Evans, both members of ASCAP, won their third Academy Award[15] for the song "Que Sera Sera", featured in the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Man Who Knew Too Much and sung by Doris Day. Another popular song that he and Livingston wrote for a film was the song "Tammy", written for the 1957 movie Tammy and the Bachelor. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. Livingston and Evans also wrote popular TV themes for shows including Bonanza and Mr. Ed. Their Christmas song "Silver Bells" intended for the 1951 Bob Hope film The Lemon Drop Kid, has become a Christmas standard.[16]

Evans appeared as himself with Livingston in the film Sunset Boulevard in the New Year's Eve party scene.[citation needed]

In 1958, the song-writing team was nominated for a Tony Award for the musical Oh, Captain!. Evans also collaborated separately with Michael Feinstein, Henry Mancini, Max Steiner, and Victor Young. The song "Dear Heart" from the 1964 film of the same name was written by Livingston and Evans with Henry Mancini; it was nominated for an Oscar and for the Song of the Year Grammy Award, and was recorded multiple times, charting for Andy Williams, Jack Jones, and Henry Mancini.

Legacy and death

Evans is an inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[17] He and Livingston have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[18]

He died at age 92 in Los Angeles, California, on the 42nd anniversary of the death of Nat King Cole, who had made "Mona Lisa" so famous.[19] He was married for nearly 56 years to actress, writer, and playwright Wyn Ritchie Evans.[20] His legacy is maintained and developed by the Ray and Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation in Culver City, California. The Ray Evans Seneca Theater in his hometown of Salamanca, NY is named after him.


Ray Evans wrote more than 700 songs for screen, stage, and television. Most were composed with writing partner Jay Livingston.[21]

Works on Screen

Works on Stage

Works on Television


  1. ^ a b Ray Evans papers, 1921-2012, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (2006-12-19). "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (December 22, 2014). "All those Holiday/Christmas Songs: So Many Jewish Songwriters!". Jewish World Review.
  4. ^ "NNDB". Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  5. ^ The Seneca. Salamanca, NY: Published by the senior class of Salamanca High School. 1931.
  6. ^ Whorf, Michael (2012). American Popular Song Lyricists: Oral Histories, 1920s-1960s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.
  7. ^ Gottlieb, Robert; Kimball, Robert, eds. (2002). Reading Lyrics. New York: Pantheon Books.
  8. ^ "Ten tunes in forthcoming films". Long Beach Press Telegram Newspaper Archives. April 24, 1948. p. 22. Retrieved Jan 13, 2023.
  9. ^ "Records Most Played on the Air". Billboard. October 5, 1946. p. 24. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  10. ^ "Records Most Played on the Air". Billboard. September 14, 1946. p. 26. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  11. ^ "Records Most Played on the Air". Billboard. September 7, 1946. p. 28 and 116. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  12. ^ "Records Most Played on the Air". Billboard. August 24, 1946. p. 27 and 112. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 551. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  14. ^ "The Ray & Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation | The official website of Ray Evans, American songwriter, Livingston and Evans, Music, Archives, Films". Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  15. ^ Spencer Leigh (19 October 2001). "Obituary: Jay Livingston". The Independent.
  16. ^ Furia, Philip & Lasser, Michael (2006). America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Routledge. p. 233. ISBN 9781135471996.
  17. ^ "Ray Evans". Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  18. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame". Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Que Sera composer Ray Evans dies". BBC News. 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2007-02-17.
  20. ^ "Wyn Ritchie Evans: Performer, Wife of Ray Evans (obituary)". Variety. 17 April 2003. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  21. ^ The Ray and Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation Official Website.