Ray Anthony was born in Bentleyville, PA, in 1922. He hit it big in the early 1950’s when his classic dance songs “The Hokey Pokey” and “The Bunny Hop” became popular. He also had hit songs with “The Dragnet Theme” and “At Last”. Ray became the musical director for the television series “TV’s Top Tunes” and began an acting career which included the film “Daddy Long Legs” where he played himself. In 1955 Ray married sex symbol actress Mamie Van Doren. The marriage lasted only 2 years. Ray was a good friend of Marilyn Monroe and wrote a song about her titled “Marilyn”. Ray is good friends with Hugh Hefner and appeared many times on his “The Girls Next Door” television show. Now in his 90’s Ray is still going strong. Ray was honored with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Early music career and stint in the US Navy
Ray Anthony has had a mulitifaceted career in Hollywood. He used to be active as a trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter and actor. Anthony was born Raymond Antonini in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania on January 20, 1922. He was given his first trumpet lessons through his father after he and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
When he was eighteen years old, Anthony became a part of Glenn Miller’s band in the years 1940-1941. He also appeared in Sun Valley Serenade, a Glenn Miller film before he was drafted into the US Navy during the Second World War.
With The Ray Anthony Orchestra
After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Ray started his own group called the Ray Anthony Orchestra (or Ray Anthony and His Orchestra). It slowly gained in popularity especially during the early 1950s, which saw him and his orchestra making several notches on the Billboard pop chart. The hits include his self-penned number “The Bunny Hop” (#13 pop) and the “Hokey Pokey” as well as the theme music from the hit television series Dragnet (#2 pop). He also scored a big hit with his rendition of the Glenn Miller number “At Last.” (#2 pop).
The 1950s were Anthony’s peak periods, especially in the years 1950 to 1954. He scored numerous Top 20 and Top 40 hits, the highest hits being: “Sentimental Me” (#7 pop), “Count Every Star,” (#4 pop), “Can Anyone Explain?” (#5 pop), “Harbor Lights” (#4 pop), “Nevertheless (I’m in Love with You)” (#9 pop), “Undecided” (#10 pop), and “As Time Goes By” (#10 pop), among the many other hits he waxed out.
Ray Anthony’s acting career
Aside from playing the trumpet and being the leader of his own big band, Anthony was also the musical director of TV’s Top Tunes. As if he weren’t satisfied enough by the achievements in his music career, Anthony also included acting into his resume. He made his first onscreen appearance, as himself, in the 1955 movie Daddy Long Legs. Around this time he also married his second wife, Mamie van Doren, a famous sex symbol actress (pictured in the left); their union produced a son. He further expanded his acting career through a few more films including two starring Van Doren, High School Confidential and Girls Town, as well as The Five Pennies. Anthony also made a guest appearance in the spy TV series Five Fingers. When he and Van Doren divorced in 1958, Anthony’s acting career was also finished.
The music goes on for Ray Anthony
Anthony’s music career still flourished. He and his orchestra went on to record Henry Mancini’s theme from Peter Gunn, which also reached the Top 10 on the Billboard pop chart at #8. He and his band also appeared on the musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It, starring Jayne Mansfield.
In the 1980s Anthony was still active, mounting a new lineup of backup musicians who called themselves Big Band ’80s. Some of those members included Buddy Rich, Jarry James, Les Brown adn Alvino Ray. Even in his 90s, he continues to be pretty much active in performing music.
Anthony has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also a close friend of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. He was also a good friend of Marilyn Monroe and in fact wrote a song about her, simply titled “Marilyn.”
- RayAnthonyBand.com – The Official Ray Anthony Website
The Official Ray Anthony Band Website
- Ray Anthony – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Ray Anthony | Billboard