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The Archive of Hollywood Songwriter Ray Evans at Penn Libraries

September 27, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03

Ray Evans with Oscar in front of the Ray Evans Seneca Theater in Salamanca, NY

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries acquired the papers and memorabilia of songwriter and Penn alum Ray Evans and his wife Wyn, thanks to a generous gift from The Ray & Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation. The Foundation will also fund the two-year appointment of a project cataloger who will fully integrate the materials into the Libraries’ collections.

Ray Evans (W’36) and his songwriting partner Jay Livingston (C’37), who met at Penn in 1934, are among the world’s most successful songwriting duos, writing songs for popular movies from the 1940s to the 1960s. The duo won three Academy Awards for best original song.  In 1948, they won the award for “Buttons and Bows,” written for the movie, The Paleface.  They won their second Oscar for the song “Mona Lisa” from the movie Captain Carey, U.S.A. Their third Oscar was for the song “Que Sera Sera,” from the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.  They also penned the popular Christmas song, “Silver Bells.”

“Ray and Jay were proud alumni of Penn and began to develop their unique songwriting style while attending the University,” said Anthony E. Nicholas, director of The Ray & Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation. “The University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ renowned music collection is the ideal destination for Ray’s archive.”

Already home to the papers of several well-known figures in music, including Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, and Marian Anderson, Penn’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library will serve as the permanent repository for the study and appreciation of Mr. Evans and his work. “The Penn Libraries are pleased to be the chosen recipients for these unique materials that trace the life and career of such a prolific and esteemed figure in the world of music,” said H. Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries.

Items in the collection include Evans’s clarinet, his gold records and ASCAP awards (among many other awards), recordings of his songs, photographs, letters and telegrams, sheet music, and press clippings.

Mr. Evans and Mr. Livingston also wrote theme songs for television shows, such as Bonanza and Mr. Ed. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.

Ray Evans and Jay Livingston with Kathryn Grayson with second Oscar for Mona Lisa in 1951.


Almanac - September 27, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03