Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw

actor, composer, music department

Artie Shaw was born on May 23, 1910 in USA. Artie Shaw's big-screen debut came with Dancing Co-Ed directed by S. Sylvan Simon in 1939, strarring Artie Shaw. Artie Shaw is known for Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got directed by Brigitte Berman, Artie Shaw stars as Self and John Best as Self. Artie Shaw has got 2 awards and 2 nominations so far. The most recent award Artie Shaw achieved is Grammy Awards. The upcoming new movie Artie Shaw plays is Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got which will be released on Oct 25, 1985.

Artie Shaw played ukulele at ten and began as an alto saxophonist at the age of twelve. While still in his teens he formed his first band, the Bellevue Ramblers which performed at local gigs. He took up the clarinet in 1926 and spent several years honing his talent playing for various local bands in Florida and Ohio, often doubling up as an arranger and tenor sax player. He arrived in New York in 1929, participated in numerous recording sessions and quickly established a reputation for technical excellence on his chosen instrument. In his 1952 autobiographical book "The Trouble with Cinderella" he described himself as a mediocre talent who improved himself through countless hours of rehearsal. That self-critique notwithstanding, Shaw was a consummate perfectionist, almost to the point of obsession. He was unconventional, highly literate and often difficult to deal with. He hated 'annoying fans', eschewed fame for its own sake, avoided publicity whenever possible and rarely did encores. He was also a gifted musician, able to draw a richer, cleaner sound out of his instrument than any other contemporary clarinet player. Artie himself recalled "I didn't play clarinet. I played music".Shaw formed his first band in 1936 (featuring a string quartet) but was unhappy with the result, disbanded and the following year set up a full-size conventional swing orchestra (three trumpets, two trombones, four saxes, four rhythm). He had his first million selling success for Bluebird Records with a Jerry Gray arrangement of the Cole Porter song "Begin the Beguine" which quickly became a swing standard and established the band as one of the best in the business. On October 26 1938, the Shaw orchestra opened at the Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln on New York's Eighth Avenue, complete with a coast-to-coast radio hook up. More hits followed with "Yesterdays", "Out of Nowhere", "Nightmare" (his theme), "Softly As in A Morning Sunrise" and "Any Old Time" (famous for a magnificent vocal by Billie Holiday). Artie himself acquired the sobriquet "King of the Clarinet" as opposed to his perennial rival Benny Goodman who was known as "the King of Swing" (incidentally, this 'rivalry' was entirely orchestrated by publicists -- there was never any genuine ill-will between the two). Shaw later recalled "We weren't playing dance music. Our music was for listening primarily......If we had wanted to play just dance music, I could have saved myself an awful lot of money on some of the sidemen I paid". Those sidemen over the years included jazz greats like drummer Buddy Rich (whom Artie referred to as the band's 'spark plug'), Georgie Auld, Johnny Best, Ray Conniff and Billy Butterfield . Shaw also consistently hired top notch singers, foremost among them Helen Forrest, Kitty Kallen, Peg La Centra and Bea Wain. Sadly, Billie Holiday's tenure with the band was short-lived. Issues with racial discrimination came to a head at various New York concert venues and on radio broadcasts, forcing her to quit.Nothing if not mercurial, Shaw folded the band at the peak of its popularity and left suddenly for self-imposed exile in Mexico. He stayed only a couple of months, gigging with local musicians and collecting traditional songs. Back in the U.S. in January 1940, he began work on the musical Swing Romance (1940). The film was a rare failure for its star Fred Astaire and Shaw also recalled it as the worst movie he ever made. On the positive side, he cut two hugely successful recordings of songs he had unearthed in Mexico: "Frenesi" and "Adios, Mariquita Linda". His new band now included a string section and a sextet nucleus which would become known as "Artie Shaw and His Gramercy Five". This incarnation, too, only lasted a few months as did the one which succeeded it. Fed up with celebrity, Artie enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1942 and eventually assembled the Rangers, a 17-piece orchestra which toured the Pacific theatre from Pearl Harbour to Guadalcanal. The band performed in jungles and aircraft hangars, surviving seventeen bombing attacks from Japanese aircraft while en route from island to island. In November 1943, Shaw was medically discharged and later hospitalised with a severe case of nervous depression. His wartime band was taken over by saxophonist Sam Donahue. It retained its popularity with service personnel and recorded many successful V-discs. Meanwhile, Shaw recuperated in Hollywood and eventually put together another 17-piece outfit which featured Barney Kessel on guitar, Dodo Marmarosa on piano and arrangements by Ray Conniff. Among the big selling hits for this group were "S'Wonderful" and "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive". After switching his record affiliation to Musicraft, Shaw added more strings and woodwinds. He recorded several excellent Cole Porter tracks with Mel Tormé and his vocal group, the Mel-Tones. Again, the venture merely lasted a year. For Artie Shaw "the personal price was too great. I wanted to do other things. And I just didn't have the temperament to stay on the scene too long". His final throw of the dice was the creation of a band playing bop-style jazz in 1949. It failed to find much of an audience and Shaw decided to call it a day. By the mid-50s, he had forsaken the instrument which made him famous and turned to writing. He even authored a novel about three failed marriages, titled "I Love You. I Hate You. Drop Dead". He may have had certain insights, since his unsettled private life seemed to mirror his career: married eight times, his wives have included actresses Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Evelyn Keyes.Shaw came out of retirement on rare occasions, notably at a London concert in June 1992 in which some of his music was performed by Bob Wilber.

  • Birthday

    May 23, 1910
  • Place of Birth

    New York City, New York, USA

Known For


2 wins & 2 nominations

Grammy Awards
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner - Grammy
Walk of Fame
Winner - Star on the Walk of Fame

Movies & TV Shows