Doris Day turns 90 today. The iconic star, who rose to the top in recordings, movies and television, is one of a dwindling number of pop music hit-makers from the 1940s and early 1950s who are still living. The major stars of that era who are still with us are now in their 80s and 90s. A few, notably the eternally cool Tony Bennett, 85, are still going strong. But most have been in retirement for years.
Doris Day, 1989 [Photo: Barry King/WireImage]
Some have lived to see their work influence current artists. Pete Seeger, 92, was saluted on Bruce Springsteen's 2006 album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Patty Andrews, 94, watched Bette Midler score a top 10 hit in 1973 with the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." She also saw Christina Aguilera echo the sound and spirit of that 1941 classic on her 2007 hit "Candyman."
I took a look at Day's remarkable career in a separate blog. If you missed it, here's a link.
Here are other key stars from the 1940s and early 1950s who are still living. They're listed by their current age. (They should view their age as an achievement. Anybody who makes it to 80 or 90, especially in show business, managed to sidestep a lot of perils.)
Tony Martin, 98. Martin had two hits in the late '30s (before the inception of the first weekly national song chart in 1940) and 33 chart hits between 1940 and 1957. His biggest was "There's No Tomorrow," which hit #2 in 1950. His tally of hits includes three collabos with Dinah Shore (one of those also featured Betty Hutton and Phil Harris) and one with Fran Warren. Martin was married to dancer Cyd Charisse for 60 years until her death in 2008.
Tony Martin [Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images]
Vera Lynn, 95. The Englishwoman had seven chart hits from 1948 to 1957. Her biggest was "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart," which logged nine weeks at #1 in 1952. Lynn was the most popular female singer in England during World War II. In 2009, We'll Meet Again: The Very Best Of Vera Lynn reached #1 in the U.K., making Lynn, then 92, the oldest living artist to top the U.K. chart.
Patty Andrews, 94. Andrews was the youngest member of the Andrews Sisters, who belong on every list of the most successful all-female groups of all time. LaVerne Andrews died in 1967. Maxene died in 1995. The trio's first hit was "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" in 1938. The trio had 68 chart hits from 1940 to 1951. The biggest was "Rum And Coca-Cola," an adaptation of an old calypso song which logged 10 weeks at #1 in 1945. The trio had five other #1 hits between 1944 and 1950. The sisters charted with 16 collabos with Bing Crosby, three with Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, three with Russ Morgan and his orchestra, two with Danny Kaye, two with Carmen Miranda, and one each with Eddie Heywood and his orchestra, Les Paul and Ernest Tubb. In addition, Patty Andrews had three chart hits on her own, including a collabo with Bing Crosby's younger brother Bob Crosby.
Patty Andrews [Photo: Mike Guastella/WireImage]
Pete Seeger, 92. Seeger was a key member of the legendary folk group The Weavers, which had nine chart hits from 1950 to 1952. Their biggest was their first, "Goodnight Irene," a collabo with Gordon Jenkins and His Orchestra which logged 13 weeks at #1 in 1950. They charted with three more collabos with Jenkins and one with Terry Gilkyson. Seeger returned to the pop chart on his own in 1964 with "Little Boxes." Seeger has won three Grammys: two for Best Traditional Folk Album and a third for Best Musical Album for Children. Seeger is the only person to be voted a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award twice. He was saluted on his own in 1993 and with the Weavers in 2006. Two other members of The Weavers are still living: Ronnie Gilbert, 85, and Fred Hellerman, 84. The fourth founding member, Lee Hays, died in 1981.
Pete Seeger [Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]
Ray Anthony, 90. The bandleader had 27 chart hits from 1949 to 1962. His biggest was "At Last" (later memorably covered by Etta James), which hit #2 in 1952. Anthony charted with a 1955 collabo with Frank Sinatra, "Melody Of Love."