Sunday, September 4, 2016

Easy Listening for a Sunday Afternoon

Artie Shaw

An excerpt from:

(A really great bio of him, by the way)!

A self-proclaimed "very difficult man," Shaw was married eight times; two were annulled; the others ended in divorce: Jane Cairns (1932–33 annulled); Margaret Allen (1934–37); actress Lana Turner (1940); Betty Kern, the daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern, (1942–43); actress Ava Gardner (1945–46); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946–48, annulled); actress Doris Dowling (1952–56), and actress Evelyn Keyes (1957–85). He had one son, Steven Kern, with Betty Kern, and another son, Jonathan Shaw, with Doris Dowling. Both Lana Turner and Ava Gardner later described Shaw as being extremely emotionally abusive. His controlling nature and incessant verbal abuse drove Turner to have a nervous breakdown, soon after which she divorced him. In 1939, Shaw briefly dated actress Judy Garland and, according to Tom Nolan's biography, had an affair with Lena Horne.

In 1946, Shaw was present at a meeting of the Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions. Olivia de Havilland and Ronald Reagan, part of a core group of actors and artists who were trying to sway the organization away from Communism, presented an anti-Communist declaration which, if signed, was set to run in newspapers. There was bedlam as many rose to champion the communist cause, and Artie Shaw began praising the Democratic standards of the Soviet constitution. In 1953, Shaw was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist activities. The committee was investigating a peace activist organization, the World Peace Council, which it considered a Communist front.

He was a precision marksman, ranking fourth in the United States in 1962, and an expert fly fisherman. In his later years, Shaw lived and wrote in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks, California.

 He died on December 30, 2004, at the age of 94. According to his publicist, he had been "in ill health for some time, but I don't know the specific cause of death." In fact, Shaw had long been suffering from diabetes. In 2005, Shaw's eighth wife, Evelyn Keyes, sued Shaw's estate, claiming she was entitled to one-half of Shaw's estate, pursuant to a contract to make a will between them. In July 2006, a Ventura, California jury unanimously held that Keyes was entitled to almost one-half of Shaw's estate or $1,420,000.


  1. Reminds me of the time before TV, when the family gathered round to listen to the radio of an evening.

    1. They WERE good times, weren't they? :o)

  2. I love Artie Shaw.
    What a life he had.

    1. He sure did travel around the block a lot! Never knew about Betty Kern, though.