Sunday, February 17, 2008

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY--ER--TONY AND CYD?

tonyandcyd

Two more clips to complete our mini-history of Tony Martin, aka Alvin Morris (from Oakland California of Polish-Jewish parentage, not from Seacaucus New Jersey and originally named Antonio Martinelli as I, and perhaps you, might have thought) aka Mr. "I Get Ideas", aka Mr. Cyd Charisse.


First is marvelous rendition of "Lover Come Back To Me" from the Romberg bio-hack "Deep In My Heart" (see 2/11 post--and I do mean SEE IT). I feel much better about Cyd's "Desert Song" rumpy-pumpy ballet bit knowing that her husband was also employed in the film and therefore had a valid reason to be lurking around the set.


Second is a quite unbelivable clip of Tony Martin singing this past summer--look at this man and tell me that he doesn't have a painting of himself aging in a closet. He's 95 in this clip and looks and sounds pretty much unchanged (the song he performs is "Begin The Beguine", not an unchallenging piece of material for any singer much less one who's almost a century old). I understand that Martin recently performed again in New York at Feinstein's At The Regency to sell out crowds.


Rudy Vallee, of whom I've written about recently, has a chapter in his book "Let The Chips Fall" called "The Tony Martin Caper." In it, Vallee resurrects a mini-scandal that happened early in the second World War--wherein Martin was accused of securing an Officer's commission in the navy as a result of a bribe. Why Vallee, in his autobiography, seeks to dredge this up is a bit of a mystery--Vallee was completely uninvolved in the scandal and his book is nothing if not self-obsessed. That is, until you get to the end of the chapter. There, Rudy relates how he and his wife were staying at a New York hotel at some point in the 1960's where it so happened Tony and Cyd were performing. One day, Mrs. Vallee (who, like Cyd, was a leggy sort of dish) got on the elevator at the same time as Tony and a couple of his "pals". Tony got to his floor first. As he left the elevator, according to Vallee, he asked one of the men to "find out what floor she gets off on." To which Mrs. Vallee replied blithely: "Why Tony, don't you know me? I'm Mrs. Rudy Vallee!"


This story--indeed Vallee's whole book--has long fascinated me for what it leaves unsaid. What did Tony Martin say back to her? Did they all get together for drinks later? Clearly Vallee was amused by his wife's sass, but did things progress from there? Was there a "couples night" in the negotiations phase and did its failure to come off (my guess is that Cyd didn't fancy Rudy thus making the exchange a non-starter) piss Rudy Vallee off enough to dredge up the old "Tony Martin Caper" for his book? Would that I had the nerve to ask Mr. Martin, who appears to have all his faculties (and more) entirely intact and could probably answer such a tasteless questions...if he chose too.





3 comments:

CarolMR said...

Thank you, Mr. De Felitta, for shedding a little light on Tony Martin's background. I think I probably have heard that he was Tony Martinelli from NJ. Wonder where that came from?

In any case, what are Tony's and Cyd's secret? He's 95 and she's 85! They must have discovered the Fountain of Youth! God bless them.

Raymond De Felitta said...

Thanks for reading, Carolmr. I understand Cyd made an excercise video a few years ago--perhaps that might contain some of their longevity secrets. And perhaps they just got good genes...

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