As a child Anthony, born Raymond Antonini in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio, where he studied the trumpet with his father. He played in Glenn Miller’s band from 1940–1941 and appeared in the Glenn Miller movie Sun Valley Serenade in 1941 before joining the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war he formed his own group. The Ray Anthony Orchestra became very popular in the early 1950s, with recordings that included Anthony’s classic dance songs “The Bunny Hop” and the “Hokey Pokey,” as well as the theme music from Dragnet. He had a #2 chart hit with a remake of the Glenn Miller tune, “At Last” in 1952.
From 1953-1954 Anthony was the musical director on the television series TV’s Top Tunes, and he also appeared as himself in the 1955 film Daddy Long Legs. In 1955 Anthony married his second wife, the sex symbol actress Mamie Van Doren. Their son Perry Ray was born March 18, 1956. He then began expanding his own acting career. He starred in a short-lived television 1956-1957 variety show, The Ray Anthony Show. Anthony also appeared in several films during the late 1950s, including The Five Pennies (where he portrayed Jimmy Dorsey), and Van Doren’s movies High School Confidential as “Bix” and Girls Town. In the 1959-1960 television season, he guest starred in the episode “Operation Ramrod” of David Hedison’s espionage series Five Fingers on NBC.
After van Doren filed for divorce in 1958, citing cruelty, they finally divorced in 1960, and Anthony’s brief film career ended at about the same time. However, he continued his musical career and had another hit record with the theme from Peter Gunn, which reached #8 on Billboard’s pop chart. Among his pianists was Allen “Puddler” Harris, a native of Franklin Parish, Louisiana, who had been a member of the original Ricky Nelson band and Kellie Green, who also played the vibraphone.
Anthony was considered one of the most modern of the big band leaders. In the lyrics to “Opus One”, which imagine a number of players performing the song, he is cited along with Les Brown and his Band of Renown:
If Mr. Les Brown can make it renowned
And Ray Anthony could rock it for me
Anthony and his band were also featured in the movie, The Girl Can’t Help It, and were treated as one of the rockers in the line-up, but also shown in performances with Mansfield that are essential to the plot.
Ray Anthony’s compositions include “Thunderbird”, “Bunny Hop”, “Trumpet Boogie”, “Big Band Boogie”, and “Mr. Anthony’s Boogie”.
In the early 1980s, Anthony formed Big Band ’80s, other members including Buddy Rich, Harry James, Les Brown, and Alvino Rey.
Anthony, who has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, continues to be active as a bandleader and musician.
Anthony is a close friend of Hugh Hefner and has appeared in numerous episodes of The Girls Next Door.
Edited by midlifefanclub on 20 Jan 2013, 12:12
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