RIP: writer of “QUe Sera” and “Mona Lisa”
Not many people noticed the fact, but one of the world’s most prolific songwriters just passed away. Few people outside the business know the name Jay Livingstone, although everyone has sung his hits which included “Que Sera, Sera”, “Mona Lisa” and/or “Bonanza” (yep, the cowboy series).
All of these were written with lyricist Ray Evans, a partnership that lasted an incredible 64 years. It’d be nice to think his music will be remembered, but as Evans put it: “Whatever will be, will be”.
Livingston was born in 1915. He studied piano with Harry Archer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, later attending the University of Pennsylvania where he organized a dance band and met ray Evans, a fellow student. They began writing together in 1937.
Over the years, Livingston and Evans won the Academy Award for Best Original Song three times, in 1948 for the song “Buttons and Bows”, written for the movie The Paleface; in 1950 for the song “Mona Lisa” (made famous by Nat King Cole, 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.
The team also wrote “Tammy” for the movie Tammy and the Bachelor in 1957. They also wrote TV themes for shows including Bonanza and Mister Ed. Livingston appeared as himself with Evans in the New Year’s Eve party scene of the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard.
Livingston died in Los Angeles, California in 2001, and was interred in Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery.