Jay Livingston

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Jay Livingston
Born Jacob Harold Levison
March 28, 1915
McDonald, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died October 17, 2001 (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active 1937-2001
Spouse(s) Lynne Gordon (1947-1991; her death; 1 child)
Shirley Mitchell (1992-2001; his death)

Jay Livingston (March 28, 1915 – October 17, 2001) was an American composer and singer best known as half of a songwriting duo with Ray Evans that specialized in songs composed for films. Livingston wrote the music and Evans the lyrics.

Early life and career

Livingston was born Jacob Harold Levison in McDonald, Pennsylvania; he was Jewish.[1] Livingston studied piano with Harry Archer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and worked as a musician at local clubs while still in high school. He attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he organized a dance band and met Evans, a fellow student in the band. Their professional collaboration began in 1937. Livingston and Evans won the Academy Award for Best Original Song three times,[2] in 1948 for the song "Buttons and Bows", written for the movie The Paleface;[3] in 1950 for the song "Mona Lisa", written for the movie Captain Carey, U.S.A.; and in 1956 for the song "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," featured in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much. They also wrote "Tammy's in Love" for the movie Tammy and the Bachelor in 1957. Livingston and Evans wrote popular TV themes for shows including Bonanza and Mr. Ed. They also wrote the Christmas song "Silver Bells" in 1951, for the film The Lemon Drop Kid, initially calling it "Tinkle Bells" but changed it to "Silver" because of the common connotation of "tinkle", as well as "Never Let Me Go" for the 1956 film The Scarlet Hour. Fans of Johnny Mathis can thank Mr. Livingston for The Twelfth of Never and All The Time among others.

Livingston appeared as himself with Evans in Sunset Blvd (1950) in the New Year's Eve party scene.


Livingston is an inductee in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.[4] In 2004, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a historical marker in McDonald, Pennsylvania, noting Livingston's historic importance.[5]


Livingston died in Los Angeles, California, and was interred there in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[6] His brother, longtime Capitol Records executive Alan W. Livingston, is best known for creating "Bozo the Clown" and signing Frank Sinatra and The Beatles among other legends with Capitol.

His wife, Shirley Mitchell, died on November 11, 2013 at 94.

Work on Broadway


  1. Bloom, Nate (2006-12-19). "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily. Retrieved 2006-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Spencer Leigh (19 October 2001). "Obituary: Jay Livingston". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Tape 4, side B.
  4. http://songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C219
  5. "Jay Livingston (1915-2001) - PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jay Livingston at Find a Grave

External links