first_img“They had a strong work ethic and they wrote a lot of plays that have wonderful and sophisticated songs that are quite different from movie songs,” said Feinstein, who in 2002 released an album devoted to the Evans and Livingston songbook. Of his body of work, Evans told friends his favorite piece was “Mona Lisa.” The song was originally called “Prima Donna,” but Evans changed the title at the suggestion of his wife, Wyn. “She was an art lover, and she said `Prima Donna’ didn’t sound right. Why don’t you call it `Mona Lisa?”‘ said Victoria Looseleaf, who is writing Evans’ biography. Evans was born in Salamanca, N.Y., on February 4, 1915. He met Livingston at the University of Pennsylvania, where they were both students, and formed a college dance band. After graduating in 1937, they moved to New York City and began their songwriting collaboration. Livingston died in 2001 at age 86. Evans, whose wife died in 2003, is survived by his sister.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “He said to me, `I lived a great life and everything now is gravy. I take it day by day,”‘ Feinstein said in a telephone interview from New York. “He was always thrilled that his work survived.” Evans’ musical partnership with Livingston spanned more than six decades, with Livingston providing the melodies and Evans writing the lyrics. Often called the last of the great songwriters, the duo earned seven Academy Award nominations and won three – in 1948 for “Buttons and Bows” in the film “Paleface,” in 1950 for “Mona Lisa” in the movie “Captain Carey, USA” and in 1956 for “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” They also produced the classic Christmas carol “Silver Bells,” and the theme songs for the television series “Bonanza” and “Mr. Ed.” Evans and Livingston wrote songs for dozens of movies, most of them when they were under contract with Paramount from 1945 to 1955. But the duo also wrote the music and lyrics for two Broadway musicals – “Oh Captain!” in 1958 and “Let It Ride” in 1961 – as well as many unproduced scores. Oscar-winning songwriter Ray Evans, whose long collaboration with partner Jay Livingston produced such enduring standards as “Mona Lisa,” “Buttons and Bows,” “Silver Bells” and “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera),” has died. He was 92. Evans died late Thursday of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, Frederick Nicholas, Evans’ longtime lawyer, said Friday. “I talked to him the day he died. He was just full of energy and excitement. When I heard last night that he died, I couldn’t believe it,” Nicholas said. Singer Michael Feinstein, a close friend, said he spoke with Evans on his birthday, Feb. 4. last_img