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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alan Livingston 1917-2009

We throw around terms like "legend" and "genius" all too often, but Alan Livingston, who died this week at 91, was truly an entertainment legend. Just consider his resume. After serving in World War II, Pennsylvania native and former college band leader Livingston hitched a ride to Los Angeles where he took a position as a writer/producer at Capitol Records. In an effort to create Capitol's children's records division, he created the iconic character Bozo the Clown, whose recordings became smash hits and let to the first "Bozo's Circus" t.v. show on a local Los Angeles television station. Livingston also wrote the 1951 hit song "I Tawt I Saw a Puddy Tat" for Mel Blanc's Tweety Pie character.
(betty hutton and livingston wed in 1955 with
Desert Inn owner wilbur clark watching)
Next Livingston signed a career slumping Frank Sinatra to Capitol Records and was the man who persuaded Sinatra to record with Nelson Riddle. The legendary Sinatra/Riddle recordings revived Sinatra's career and helped to increase Capitol's sales from $6 million per year to over $100 million per year. If that wasn't enough, Livingston is also credited for coming up with the idea for the famous Capitol Records Tower, the world's first circular office building.

Livingston left Capitol for NBC where he greenlighted the monster t.v. hit, "Bonanza". (Alan's songwriting
brother, Jay, wrote the memorable Bonanza theme song.) After five years at NBC, Livingston returned to Capitol Records as President, and later Chairman of the Board. During his tenure, Capitol became more interested in rock-oriented music, signing The Beach Boys, Steve Miller and The Band. Most famously, though, Livingston was the man who signed the Beatles to Capitol Records, selected their first U.S. release, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1963 and brought them to America in 1964.

(alan livingston with the beatles)

Livingston was first married to actress Betty Hutton, and later married "Sunset Boulevard" Oscar-nominated actress Nancy Olson.

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