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LOCAL LYRICIST RAY EVANS GETS HALL OF FAME NOD

Salamanca-born songwriter Ray Evans, best known for such movie tunes as "Que Sera, Sera," "Mona Lisa" and "Silver Bells" and the instrumental theme for the television series "Bonanza," has been named to the Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Evans, 90, who earned three Oscars and is considered one of the last of the great Hollywood songwriters, will be honored during a private induction ceremony and dinner May 3 in Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Watching movie musicals that played in his hometown theater, which now bears his name, led Evans to songwriting. After graduating from Penn State, he and his longtime friend, composer Jay Livingston, moved to New York City, where they began writing for Broadway productions. Their first hit was "G'Bye Now."

Evans and Livingston subsequently worked for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood for 10 years and then began to freelance. During that time, they created songs and completed scores that included some of their best work, such as "Oh Captain!" and "Let It Ride."

They also wrote for nightclub acts and TV specials, including comedian Bob Hope's shows.

They won Academy Awards for Best Song in a Motion Picture for "Que Sera, Sera," "Mona Lisa" and "Buttons and Bows," and received Oscar nominations for "The Cat and the Canary," "Tammy," "Almost in Your Arms" and "Dear Heart."

Evans, the lyricist, and his composer-partner wrote 11 more songs for Hope over the years, the most famous of which -- "Silver Bells," a number about Christmas in the city -- the star sang in the movie "The Lemondrop Kid." It became a holiday classic after Bing Crosby recorded it and accounts for most of the annual royalties Evans receives.

He and Livingston, who died in 2001, later produced theme music for the TV series "Mr. Ed" and "Mr. Lucky" as well as the long-running "Bonanza." Twenty-six of their songs have sold 1 million records or more.

Evans' portrait, by Buffalo artist George Palmer, will hang in the Shea's lobby alongside those of 15 previous Hall of Fame inductees: actors Christine Baranski, Lucille Ball, Conrad John Schuck, James Whitmore, Nancy Marchand and Jay Silverheels; political satirist Mark Russell; television pioneer Buffalo Bob Smith; director/choreographer Michael Bennett; jazz musician Grover Washington Jr.; playwright A.R. Gurney; composer Harold Arlen; Broadway director/producer George Abbott; comedy writer Al Boasberg; and television writer Tom Fontana.

The Hall of Fame is sponsored by National Health Care Affiliates and the Hamister family.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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