Paul Mustapha Abdi Anka
: بول مصطفى عبدي أنكا) OC
(born 30 July 1941
, in Ottawa
) is a Canadian
singer, songwriter, and actor of Lebanese
origin. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1990.
Anka first became famous as a teen idol in the late 1950s and 1960s with hits songs like "Diana," "Lonely Boy," and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder." He went on to write such well known music as the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Tom Jones' biggest hit "She's A Lady," and the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra's signature song "My Way."
Anka's parents, who owned a restaurant, were of Lebanese Christian
) descent. He sang with the St Elijah
Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church
choir under the direction of Frederick Karam with whom he studied music theory. He also studied piano with Winnifred Rees.
Anka recorded his first single "I Confess
" at age 14. In 1957 he went to New York City
where he auditioned for Don Costa
, singing what was widely believed to be a lovestruck verse he had written to a former babysitter. In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross in 2005, he stated that it was to a girl at his church whom he hardly knew. The song, "Diana
", brought Anka instant stardom as it rocketed to number one on the charts. "Diana" is one of the best selling 45s in music history. He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958, including "It's Time to Cry", which made #4 and "(All Of a Sudden) My Heart Sings", which reached #15, making him, at 17, one of the biggest teen idols
of the time. He toured Britain
and then, with Buddy Holly
, he toured Australia
His talent went beyond singing the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reworked in 1962 from a song Anka wrote earlier called "Toot Sweet" which had been rewritten with lyrics and recorded by Annette Funicello in 1959 as "It's Really Love"); Tom Jones' biggest hit record "She's a Lady"; and the English lyrics to "My Way," Frank Sinatra's signature song sung by many well known artists.
In the 1960s Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit movie The Longest Day. From his movie work, he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, "Lonely Boy" and also "My Home Town", which was a #8 pop hit for him the same year. He then went on to become one of the first pop singers to perform at the Las Vegas casinos. Anka returns to Canada several times a year, regularly playing to sold out crowds at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
In 1960 Anka signed with RCA Records, but like most North American recording artists, saw his career stalled by the British Invasion
. In the early seventies he signed with Buddah Records
. After more than ten years without a hit record, he signed with United Artists, and in 1974, he teamed up with Odia Coates
to record the number one hit, "(You're) Having My Baby
." They would record two more duets that both made it into the Top 10. These were "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" (#8) and "One Man Woman/One Woman Man" (#7). In 1975, he recorded a jingle
called "Times of Your Life
". The jingle, written by Bill Lane
and Roger Nichols
, became so popular that Anka recorded it as a full song, and it became a hit a year later
, peaking at #7 in the U.S. pop charts.
By the 1970s, Anka's career centered around adult contemporary and big-band standards, played regularly in Las Vegas. On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 2005, his album Rock Swings, comprising big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts and saw Anka awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.
In 1999, he visited Lebanon for sell-out performances at the Beirut Hall (sin el fil ) .
Paul Anka was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame
in 1980. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
. at 6840 Hollywood Blvd. Anka has also received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame
,. in 2005. In 1991, the Government of France
honored him with the title 'Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters'. He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada
Anka was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993.
In December 2007, Paul Anka was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
In October of 1995, he appeared in "Treehouse of Horror VI" on The Simpsons.
On the CW show Gilmore Girls, Lorelai named her new dog Paul Anka. He also made a guest appearance as himself in the episode 'The Real Paul Anka', which aired April 11, 2006.
He became infamous among musicians, and more recently, Internet users for a mid-1970s after-show tirade which was secretly recorded by a 'snake we later fired' (Anka: Fresh Air interview). The diatribe, in which Anka berates his crew and band members, has spawned a number of in-joke references and quotations, the main ones being: 'The guys get shirts', 'Don't make a maniac out of me', and 'Slice like a hammer.' Some are reproduced verbatim by Al Pacino's character in the film Oceans 13.
He was married to Anne de Zogheb, the daughter of Lebanese diplomat Count Charles de Zogheb
, from February 16
to September 28
. Anka met de Zogheb in San Juan, Puerto Rico
in 1962. Of English
descent, she was a fashion model on assignment and under contract to the Eileen Ford Agency
. The couple married the following year in a ceremony at Orly Airport
. De Zogheb quit modeling after their second child, Amanda, was born. They have five daughters: Amelia, Anthea, Alicia, Amanda (wife of actor Jason Bateman
) and Alexandra.
Anka has a son, Ethan (born 2005), with girlfriend Anna Yeager. Anka and Yeager were married in Sardinia during the summer of 2008.
He is the grandfather of Francesca Nora Bateman, born October 2006.
Strained relations with Ottawa
Paul Anka has had an on-again/off-again relationship with his hometown of Ottawa
. After a 1981 performance for which he received a negative review, he swore off performing in Ottawa. He returned for a performance in April 2002 at a fundraiser gala at the Ottawa Congress Centre
In 1981, Ottawa City Council named August 26, 1981 'Paul Anka Day' to celebrate his 25th anniversary in show-business. A street in Ottawa is named 'Paul Anka Drive' in his honour.
In 1991, he signed an investment agreement with the new Ottawa Senators NHL franchise. The agreement ended up being dissolved in an out-of-court settlement in 1993.
Some sources identify Paul Anka as being Maronite (Syrian Catholic)
, others as Syrian Orthodox..