Paul Anka

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Paul Anka

Paul Anka 1995.jpg
Anka in 1995
Paul Albert Anka

(1941-07-30) July 30, 1941 (age 79)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Singer-songwriter
  • actor
Years active1955–present
Anne de Zogheb
m. 1963; div. 2001)

m. 2008; div. 2010)

Lisa Pemberton
m. 2016)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • guitar

Paul Albert Anka OC (born July 30, 1941) is a Canadian-American singer, songwriter and actor. Anka became famous with hit songs like "Diana", "Lonely Boy", "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", and "(You're) Having My Baby". He wrote such well-known music as the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and one of Tom Jones's biggest hits, "She's a Lady". He also wrote the English lyrics to Claude François and Jacques Revaux's music for Frank Sinatra's signature song, "My Way", which has been recorded by many, including Elvis Presley.

In 1983, he co-wrote the song "I Never Heard" with Michael Jackson. It was retitled and released in 2009, under the title "This Is It".[1] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from the 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good", was released in 2014 on Jackson's posthumous album Xscape. The song was also released by Johnny Mathis in 1984.

Early life[edit]

Anka was born in Ottawa, Ontario, to Camelia (née Tannis) and Andrew Emile "Andy" Anka Sr. عنقا, who owned a restaurant called the Locanda.[2] His parents were both of Lebanese Christian descent.[3][4] His grandfather came to America from Bab Tuma, Syria, and his mother was an immigrant from Lebanon.[5][6] His mother died when he was 18.[citation needed]

Anka sang with the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral choir under the direction of Frederick Karam, with whom he studied music theory. He studied piano with Winnifred Rees. He attended Fisher Park High School, where he was part of a vocal trio called the Bobby Soxers.[7][8]


Early success[edit]

Paul Anka at Gröna Lund in Stockholm, 1959

Paul Anka recorded his first single, "I Confess", when he was 14. In 1956, with $100 given to him by his uncle, he went to New York City where he auditioned for Don Costa at ABC, 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.[9] The song "Diana" brought Anka stardom as it went to No. 1 on the Canadian and US music charts.[10] "Diana" is one of the best selling singles ever by a Canadian recording artist.[11] He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958,[12] including "It's Time to Cry", which hit No. 4 and "(All Of a Sudden) My Heart Sings", which reached No. 15, making him (at 17) one of the biggest teen idols of the time. He toured Britain, then Australia with Buddy Holly. Anka also wrote "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" – a song written for Holly, which Holly recorded just before he died in 1959. Anka stated shortly afterward:

"It Doesn't Matter Anymore" has a tragic irony about it now, but at least it will help look after Buddy Holly's family. I'm giving my composer's royalty to his widow – it's the least I can do.[13]

Anka in 1961

Paul Anka's talent included the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reworked in 1962 from a song Anka wrote earlier called "Toot Sweet"; it had been rewritten with lyrics and recorded by Annette Funicello in 1959 as " It's Really Love ").[14] He wrote "Teddy" – a Top 20 hit for Connie Francis in 1960. Anka wrote the English lyrics to "My Way", Frank Sinatra's signature song (originally the French song "Comme d'habitude"). In the 1960s, Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit film The Longest Day (which also was the official march of the Canadian Airborne Regiment), in which he made a cameo appearance as a US Army Ranger. For his film work he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, "Lonely Boy". He also wrote and recorded "My Home Town", which was a No. 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. In 1960, he appeared twice as himself in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven.

In 1960, Anka signed with RCA Victor. He bought the rights and ownership of his ABC-Paramount catalog in 1963,[15] but like most North American recording artists saw his career stalled by the British Invasion. By the late 1960s, his career focused on adult contemporary and big-band standards, played regularly in Las Vegas.

In the early 1970s, he signed with Buddah Records, putting out two albums, a self-titled and Jubilation. The former, first released in 1971, bore the track "She's a Lady", a song Anka composed that would become the biggest hit for Welsh singer Tom Jones that same year. Anka's version failed to become a chart success.

1970s chart comeback[edit]

Anka with friends Bill Porter and Elvis Presley backstage at the Las Vegas Hilton on August 5, 1972

Frustrated after more than ten years without a top 25 hit record, Anka switched labels again, which marked a turning point in his career. This time he signed with United Artists and in 1974 teamed up with Odia Coates to record the No. 1 hit, "(You're) Having My Baby", exposing Anka to a new generation of fans and proved his staying power among his original fan base that was now maturing.

Anka also wrote five songs which were included on an album by Don Goodwin.[16]

Anka and Coates would record two more duets that made it into the Top 10, "One Man Woman/One Woman Man" (No. 7) and "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" (No. 8), and the No. 15 duet "(I Believe) There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love". In 1975 he recorded a jingle for Kodak written by Bill Lane (lyrics) and Roger Nichols (melody) called "Times of Your Life". It became so popular Anka recorded it as a full song, which peaked at No. 7 in the US pop chart in 1976. The follow-up was another hit that Anka wrote for Sinatra, "Anytime (I'll Be There)", peaking at No. 33. Anka's last Top 40 hit in the US was in the summer of 1983: "Hold Me 'Til the Mornin' Comes", which included backing vocals from then-Chicago frontman Peter Cetera; it hit No. 2 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.[17]

1990s comeback[edit]

His 1998 album A Body of Work was his first new US studio release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983; vocalists and performers included Celine Dion, Kenny G, Patti LaBelle, and Skyler Jett. The album included a new version of "Hold Me 'Til the Morning Comes", once again performed with Peter Cetera. In 2005, his album of big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, Rock Swings, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts that saw him awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.

On October 12, 2009, Anka stated that Michael Jackson's new release titled "This Is It" was a collaborative effort between the two in 1983. According to Anka, after recording the song, Jackson decided not to use it and the tune was then recorded and released by Sa-Fire. After Anka threatened to sue for credit and a share of royalties, the administrators of Jackson's estate granted Anka 50% of the copyright.[18] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, "Love Never Felt So Good", was discovered shortly thereafter. His album Songs of December charted at No. 58 in Canada in November 2011.[19]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Paul Anka among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[20]


Already locally famous as a teenage idol for his songs in English, Anka hit the Italian market with "Summer's Gone" in 1960; it was released as "Dove Sei". The record got immediate success, reaching No. 4 on Italian hit lists,[21] opening a promising foreign career. Anka then underwent an intense collaboration with Italian musicians of the time, including composer/director Ennio Morricone, singer-songwriter Lucio Battisti, and lyricist Mogol. His official discography reports nine singles released by RCA Italiana,[22] but the Italian charts list at least six other songs he interpreted or recorded in Italian. His top hit was "Ogni giorno" which scored No. 1 in 1962, followed by "Piangerò per te" and "Ogni volta", which reached both No. 2, in 1963 and 1964. "Ogni volta" ("Every Time") was sung by Anka during the Festival di Sanremo of 1964 and then sold more than one million copies in Italy alone; it was also awarded a gold disc.[23]

He returned to Sanremo in 1968 with "La farfalla impazzita" by Battisti-Mogol. On that occasion, the same title was interpreted by Italian crooner Johnny Dorelli. The pair of singers, however, were eliminated before the final stage of the competition. Anka, maybe only coincidentally, left the Italian scene shortly thereafter. In 2003 Anka came back with an exclusive concert in Bologna, organized by the Italian company Mapei during the CERSAIE exhibition. He recorded a version of "My Way" with alternate lyrics dedicated to the sponsor of the evening.[citation needed]

In 2006, he recorded a duet with 1960s Italian hitmaker Adriano Celentano, a new cover of "Diana", with Italian lyrics by Celentano-Mogol and with singer-songwriter Alex Britti on the guitar.[24] The song hit No. 3.

Other countries[edit]

With less success than in Italy, Anka tried the French market as well. Several songs by Anka with French lyrics are known: one reported by the Italian charts ("Faibles Femmes", 1959[21]) and another reported by his official discography ("Comme Avant"[22]) with Mireille Mathieu. In 1964 he released an album titled Paul Anka à Paris; the six tracks on side B were sung in French. A single release in Japanese ("Kokoro no Sasae"/"Shiawase e no Tabiji") is also reported on his discography. In 1993, he recorded a duet with Filipino singer Regine Velasquez entitled "It's Hard to Say Goodbye", included on her album, Reason Enough. This song was re-recorded several years later by Anka and Celine Dion and was included on his album A Body of Work.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Paul Anka

Anka was married to Anne de Zogheb, the daughter of a Lebanese diplomat, Charles de Zogheb, from February 16, 1963, until 2001.[25] The couple met in 1962 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was a fashion model on assignment and under contract to the Eileen Ford Agency. Zogheb, brought up in Egypt,[26] is of Lebanese, English, French, Dutch, and Greek[26] descent. The couple married the following year in a ceremony at Paris-Orly Airport. She quit modeling after their second child was born. They have five daughters: Amelia, Anthea, Alicia, Amanda (married to actor Jason Bateman), and Alexandra.

On September 6, 1990, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[27]

In 2008, Anka married his personal trainer, Anna Åberg, in Sardinia.[28] They divorced in 2010 and Paul has full custody of their son. Anna was featured in the Swedish TV3 show Svenska Hollywoodfruar ("Swedish Hollywood Wives").

Anka's autobiography, My Way, co-written with David Dalton, was published in 2013.

Paul Anka in a cameo role for the crime drama television show Dan Raven, 1960.

In October 2016, Anka married Lisa Pemberton in Beverly Hills, California.

Acting career[edit]

Anka's first acting role in a major film was in a cameo as an army private in The Longest Day (1962). He also composed the title song to the movie. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he starred in such teen exploitation films as Girls Town (1959) and Look in Any Window (1961), in which he played a peeping tom. He later played an Elvis-hating casino pit manager in 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) and a yacht broker in Captain Ron (1992). He guest-starred as a murder suspect in one of the Perry Mason Made-for-TV movies, The Case of the Maligned Mobster (1991). In October 1995, he appeared as himself in the episode "Treehouse of Horror VI" on The Simpsons. He made guest appearances as himself in the episode "Red's Last Day" on That '70s Show and in "The Real Paul Anka" episode of Gilmore Girls. He made several appearances on the NBC TV series Las Vegas. In 2016, he made another guest appearance as himself in the "Spring" episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, a revival of the original show.

Other film and television appearances[edit]

Anka was the subject of the 1962 National Film Board of Canada documentary Lonely Boy, considered a classic work of cinema verite.[29] He wrote and performed songs in a 1985 Canadian children's Christmas cartoon, George and the Christmas Star. He appeared on The Simpsons season 7 episode Treehouse of Horror VI singing a song with Lisa in 1995. In American Idol's seasons 2 and 3, he made a special appearance and sang an adapted version of "My Way" that mocked the format of the show, as well as participants, judges, and the host. The performance was praised as one of the best moments of the show.

Awards and honors[edit]

Paul Anka's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

In 1972, a street in Ottawa was named Paul Anka Drive.[30] In 1981, the Ottawa City Council named August 26 as "Paul Anka Day" to celebrate his quarter-century in show business.[31]

Anka won the Juno Award for Composer of the Year (an award given for songwriting) in 1975. He has been nominated for Juno Awards many other times. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1980.

Anka was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in October 2004.

Anka was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2005.

In popular culture[edit]

In the mid-1980s,[32] Anka was secretly recorded while launching a tirade against his crew and band members, berating them for behavior that he considered unprofessional. When asked about it on the interview program Fresh Air, he referred to the person who did the recording as a "snake we later fired". The recording became widely known after being uploaded to the internet around 2004, and a number of quotes from it became famous, including "The guys get shirts!"; "Don't make a maniac out of me!"; and "Slice like a fucking hammer".[33] Some of the quotes were reproduced verbatim by Al Pacino's character in the 2007 film Ocean's Thirteen.[32]

On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai Gilmore named her Polish Lowland Sheepdog after Anka.[34] Series co-creator Daniel Palladino chose the name after hearing the Rock Swings album at a coffeehouse.[35] In the cold open to the episode "The Real Paul Anka," both Paul Ankas were featured in a dream sequence Lorelai describes to her daughter, Rory.[36][37]

In the American Dad episode Familyland, Roger is amazed that Anka wrote the 'Tripping Balls' song ('Trip trip trippedy, / Dem ol' Trippin' Balls!') in a night.

He appeared as himself in the American sitcom That 70s Show in season 2, episode 2 “Red’s Last Day”.

Business ventures[edit]

In 1978, Anka opened Jubilation, a restaurant and club considered one of the first modern-era nightclubs in Las Vegas; County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was its first female bartender.[2]

In 2012, Anka co-founded the holographic tech startup, ARHT Media.[38] He is currently a member of ARHT Media's Board of Advisors, alongsisde Kevin O'Leary and Brian Mulroney.[39]



Year Title Label Format US
1958 Paul Anka ABC Paramount LP
1959 My Heart Sings ABC Paramount CD, LP
1960 Swings For Young Lovers ABC Paramount CD, LP
1961 It's Christmas Everywhere ABC Paramount LP
1962 Young, Alive and In Love! RCA Victor LP 61
1962 Let's Sit This One Out RCA Victor LP 137
1963 3 Great Guys (Paul Anka, Sam Cooke and Neil Sedaka) RCA Victor LP
1963 Our Man Around The World RCA Victor LP
1963 Italiano RCA Victor LP
1968 Goodnight My Love RCA Victor LP 101
1969 Life Goes On RCA Victor LP 194
1972 Paul Anka Buddah CD, LP 188
1972 Jubilation Buddah CD, LP 192
1974 Anka United Artists CD, LP 9 Gold
1975 Feelings United Artists CD, LP 36
1975 Times of Your Life (9 of 10 cuts from previous 2 albums) United Artists LP 22 Gold
1976 The Painter United Artists CD, LP 85
1977 The Music Man United Artists LP 195
1978 Listen to Your Heart RCA Victor CD, LP 179
1979 Headlines RCA Victor CD, LP
1981 Both Sides of Love RCA Victor LP 171
1983 Walk a Fine Line Columbia CD, LP 156
1987 Freedom For The World (titled Freedom in Canada) A&M Records CD, LP
1989 Somebody Loves You Polydor CD
1996 Amigos (Duets in Spanish) Sony CD
2005 Rock Swings Verve CD 120 (9 UK)
2007 Classic Songs, My Way Decca CD 139
2011 Songs of December Decca CD
2013 Duets Sony CD 95


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Let's Rock Himself
1959 Verboten! Self, behind opening credits Sang "Verboten!"
1959 Girls Town Jimmy Parlow Wrote and Sung "Lonely Boy"
1960 The Private Lives of Adam & Eve Pinkie Parker Wrote and Sung "Adam and Eve"
1961 Look in Any Window Craig Fowler
1961 The Seasons of Youth Self TV Documentary
1961 Make Room for Daddy Paul Pryor Season 8, episode 25: "Old Man Danny"
1962 The Longest Day U.S. Army Ranger
1964 Valentine's Day Gerald Larson TV Series
1965 The Red Skelton Hour Bonnie Prince Gorgeous Episode 25: "Nuts of the Round Table"
1974 Kojak Buddy Maus Season 2, episode 14: "The Betrayal"
1977 Lindsay Wagner: Another Side of Me Self TV Special
1977 Elvis in Concert No role – Soundtrack #12: My Way written by Paul Anka TV Special
1982 The Paul Anka Show Host TV Series
1983 The Fall Guy Vic Madison Season 3, episode 7: "Dirty Laundry"
1987 Crime Story Anthony 'Tony' Dio Season 1, episode 20: "Top of the World"
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster Nick Angel TV Movie
1992 Captain Ron Yacht Broker Donaldson
1993 Ordinary Magic Joey Dean
1994 Shake, Rattle and Rock! Himself TV Movie; Special appearance
1995 The Simpsons Himself Season 7, episode 6: "Treehouse of Horror VI
1996 Mad Dog Time Danny Marks
1999 That '70s Show Himself Season 2, episode 2: "Red's Last Day"
2001 3000 Miles to Graceland Pit Boss #1
2005 Las Vegas Himself Season 3, episode 2: "Fake the Money and Run"
2006 Gilmore Girls Himself Season 6, episode 18: "The Real Paul Anka"
2016 Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Himself Miniseries, Episode 2: "Spring"


  1. ^ "'New' Jackson song penned in 1983". BBC News. October 13, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Hampson, Sarah (April 27, 2002). "I was a lonely boy". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Anka, Paul (2013). "My Way: An Autobiography". pp. 10–11.
  4. ^ "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings,' Part Two". Fresh Air radio talk show broadcast. 2005. p. minute 3.25- 4:38.
  5. ^ "Paul Anka, Kids' wonder singer". Life Magazine: 67–70. August 29, 1960. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "Anka to honor his roots with concert in Lebanon". Deseret News. 1998.
  7. ^ "Paul Anka profile". City of Ottawa. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  8. ^ "Paul Anka profile". History Of Rock. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Bush, John. Paul Anka: Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  10. ^ "Canadian Charts from 1957 – 1986". Archived from the original on March 12, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2006
  11. ^ "Gold & Platinum certification of albums at RIAA". Archived from the original on June 8, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2006
  12. ^ "U.S Billboard chart rankings". Retrieved November 26, 2006
  13. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-600-57602-0.
  14. ^ Myers, Marc (January 7, 2014). "Tonight Show Theme: Evolution". Archived from the original on November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  15. ^ "Billboard". March 16, 1963. p. 6. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  16. ^ Martin Melhuish (July 13, 1974). From the Music Capitals of the World. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 42–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 22.
  18. ^ Serjeant, Jill (October 13, 2009). "UPDATE 2-New Michael Jackson single a mistake". Reuters. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  19. ^ "CANOE – JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  20. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Hit Parade Italia. Indice per interprete: A. Anka Paul. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  22. ^ a b Paul Anka Official Site. Discography. Import singles. Archived February 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on February 13, 2009.
  23. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 170. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  24. ^ M. L. Fegiz: Duetto inedito con Paul Anka nella storia musicale di Celentano. Corriere Della Sera, November 7, 2006.
  25. ^ "Paul Anka tells his amazing tale" Archived October 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed February 11, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Anne De Zogheb biodata,; accessed February 11, 2015.
  27. ^ "Anka Passes Citizenship, Flunks No-parking Lesson". Orlando Sentinel. September 8, 1990. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  28. ^ "CANOE – JAM! Anka, Paul: Paul Anka will always do it his way". February 29, 2008. Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  29. ^ "Lonely Boy". Documentary. National Film Board of Canada. 1962. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  30. ^ Jutras, Catherine (August 26, 1972). "Ottawa honors Anka". Ottawa Citizen. p. 3.
  31. ^ "Ottawa honors Anka". The Globe and Mail. July 17, 1981. p. 2.
  32. ^ a b Q&A with music icon Paul Anka, Valerie Kellogg, PopMatters, November 14, 2008
  33. ^ "Paul Anka – ' ... the way it is.'". YouTube.
  34. ^ [1] Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "They're slippin' 'em Paul Anka, dig?", Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2006
  36. ^ Gilmore Girls: "The Real Paul Anka". The Internet Movie Database.
  37. ^ "Gilmore Girls: "The Real Paul Anka" (Transcript 127)". April 11, 2006. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  38. ^ "From Jedi Council to Deepak Chopra: Tabletop versions of 3D holograms the next big thing". Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  39. ^ "Story of a shattered life: A single childhood incident pushed Dawn Crey into a downward spiral". Vancouver Sun. November 24, 2001. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  40. ^ "Paul Anka – Chart History: Billboard 200". July 11, 2018.

Works cited

  • 36 People Magazine November 7, 2016, p. 13

External links[edit]