Canadian-born American singer/songwriter and occasional actor, whose life was chronicled in the 1962 documentary “Lonely Boy,” Paul Anka attained stardom at age 16 thanks to the monster hit “Diana,” which became his first No. 1 hit and sold over 10 million pieces worldwide. He furthered cemented a reputation as a successful teenage heartthrob with a series of hit singles throughput the late 1950s to early 1960s, including “Crazy Love,” “You Are My Destiny,” “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “It's Time to Cry” and “Lonely Boy.” As an adult, Anka enjoyed a revival in 1974 with “(You're) Having My Baby,” a duet with Odia Coates. It was his first No. 1 hit since 1959's “Lonely Boy.” He followed it up with such Top 10 hits as “I Don't Like to Sleep Alone” (1974), “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (1974) and “Times of Your Life” (1975). Still a strong performer, Anka released the albums “Rock Swings” and “Classic Songs, My Way” in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
A noted songwriter, Anka is known for penning big hits for such artists as Tom Jones (“She's a Lady”), Buddy Holly (“It Doesn't Matter Any More”) and Frank Sinatra (“My Way”). He also wrote the theme song for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
Anka was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.
5' 6” Anka was married to former fashion model Anne De Zogheb from 1963 to 2000. They have five daughters together. Anka also has a three-year-old son, Ethan, who was mothered by his personal trainer Anna Aberg, who is 29 years his junior. Having dated for years, Anka and Aberg will be married on July 26, 2008, in Sardinia, Italy. He explained, “I'm engaged. We've been talking about marriage for the last year and over a bottle of wine and dinner recently in New York at Scalinatella restaurant, I proposed. I said, 'let’s do this.’”
Anka was once romantically involved with singer Annette Funicello. He is the father-in-law of actor/director Jason Bateman, who married his daughter Amanda in 2001.
Childhood and Family:
Paul Albert Anka was born on July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to local restaurant owners. His parents were of Lebanese Christian origin. Paul started singing at age 12. He performed with the St Elijah Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church choir under the direction of Frederick Karam, who also taught him music theory. By age 13, Paul had founded his own band. Besides music, Paul was also interested in journalism and hoped someday to pursue a career in that field. To hone in on his writing skills, he took journalism classes and even worked for a spell at the Ottawa Citizen. Young Paul also considered becoming a lawyer.
At age 15, Paul won a trip to New York by winning a supermarket contest collecting Campbell's Soup wrappers.
In 1962, Paul met fashion model Anne De Zogheb, the daughter of Lebanese diplomat Count Charles de Zoghe, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They were married the following year on February 16, 1963, in a ceremony at Orly Airport in Paris. His wife gave up modeling after the birth of their second child. The couple had five daughters, Alexandra, Amanda, Alicia, Anthea and Amelia. Paul and De Zogheb divorced in October 2000 after having been together for 37 years.
In 2005, Paul had a son named Ethan with girlfriend Anna Aberg. A year later, on October 28, 2006, daughter Amanda gave birth to her first child, Francesca Nora Bateman. She is the wife of actor/director Jason Bateman (born on January 14, 1969).
Paul Anka had his first brush with show business when he was 12 years old. A child prodigy, he wrote and performed his own songs in Quebec. He formed his own vocal group, the Bobbysoxers, at age 13 and went to Los Angeles the following year where he had the chance to meet Ernie Freeman of Modern Records. Impressed by Paul’s talent, Freeman signed the young Anka and released his first single, ”Blau-Wile Deveest Fontaine,” which became the flip side to another song, “I Confess,” in 1956. Although it was only a moderate hit, it did ignite Anka's interest to keep writing.
Thanks to support from his parents, Anka was able to return to New York in 1957 (he first went to New York at 15 after winning a Campbell's soup contest) and introduced some of his new songs to record companies and music publishers. It was the song “Diana,” a love song he wrote for the 18-year-old babysitter of his younger brother and sister, which put Anka under the radar of ABC producer Don Costa. Costa agreed to record the teenager and “Diana” become a major hit. It rose to No. 1 and went on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide. The enormous success of “Diana” brought Anka immediate stardom.
Anka continued to score Top 20 hits in 1958 with the songs “Crazy Love” and “You Are My Destiny.” Managed by Irvin Feld, he toured throughout the world, including America, France, Britain and Australia with a number of noted musicians like Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and Dion and the Belmonts. He broke into movies in the late 1950s with “Let's Rock” (1958) and “Girls Town” (1959) and performed “I'll Be Waiting For You” in the first and “Ave Maria,” “Lonely Boy,” “It's Time To Cry” and “Girls Town” in the latter. It was “Lonely Boy” (1959), a song he wrote for his mother who passed away of liver disease, that made Anka a chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition to singing, he also played the role of Jimmy Parlow in “Girls Town.”
A hit maker, Anka recorded “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” in 1959 and it became his next hit. He also recorded “Puppy Love” (1960), which later also became a big hit for Donny Osmond, and wrote the successful song “It Doesn't Matter Anymore” for Buddy Holly.
When his teen idol cult following declined in the early 1960s, Anka took on roles in a few more movies, including “The Private Lives of Adam and Eve” (1960) and “The Longest Day” (1962), for which he also provided the title songs. He also tried his hand at hosting during 1965 to1966 with the variety show “Hullabaloo,” and attempted to make the shift from teen idol to sophisticated singer with performances in Las Vegas casinos. His musical career gained a significant boost when he wrote the theme for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” and in 1966, rewrote the French lyrics to the song “Comme d'Habitude” for one of Frank Sinatra's most celebrated songs, “My Way.” He was also responsible for the success of Tom Jones' biggest hit record “She's a Lady.”
After more than a decade without a hit record, Anka made a triumphant comeback in 1974 when he recorded “(You're) Having My Baby,” a duet sung with Odia Coates. Released in late June under United Artists Records, the song soared on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 1. It became Anka's third No.1 hit song. He and Coates continued to enjoy success with the Top 10 hits “I Don't Like to Sleep Alone” (No. 8) and “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (No. 7). 1975 saw Anka record “Times of Your Life,” a popular jingle for Kodak that was written by Bill Lane and Roger Nichols. Led by the success of the jingle, Paul decided to record it as a full song and his effort paid off when it rose to No. 7 on the America pop charts in 1976.
Since then, Anka has recorded such songs as “The Painter” (1977), “The Music Man” (1977), “Walk a Fine Line” (1983), “It's Hard to Say Goodbye” (1986), a duet sung with Regine Velasquez, “Somebody Loves You” (1989) and “It's Hard to Say Goodbye” (1998), a duet with Celine Dion. Anka, who had previously released theme albums such as “Excitement on Park Avenue” and “Strictly Nashville,” launched “Rock Swings” in 2005. The follow-up, “Classic Songs, My Way,” was released in 2007.
A multi-faceted artist, Anka has also continued to pursue his TV and film career. He hosted “The Paul Anka Show” in 1982 and appeared as a guest star during the 1980s in the TV series “The Fall Guy” (1983) and “Crime Story” (1987). The following decade found roles in the made-for-TV film “Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster” (1991) and the movies “Captain Ron” (1992, starring Kurt Russell and Martin Short), “Ordinary Magic” (1993, with Ryan Reynolds and Glenne Headly) and Larry Bishop's “Mad Dog Time” (1996, opposite Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne and Richard Dreyfuss). In “3000 Miles to Graceland” (2001), Anka appeared as Pit Boss #1.
BMI Film & TV: Classic Contribution Award, “The Tonight Show,” 2005