Ray Evans dead

LOS ANGELES: Oscar-winning songwriter Ray Evans, whose long ollaboration with partner Jay Livingston produced such enduring standards as ``Mona Lisa,'' ``Buttons and Bows,'' ``Silver Bells'' and ``Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera),'' has died. He was 92.

Evans died late on Thursday of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, Frederick Nicholas, Evans' longtime lawyer, said Friday.

``I talked to him the day he died. He was just full of energy and excitement. When I heard last night that he died, I couldn't believe it,'' Nicholas said.

Singer Michael Feinstein, a close friend, said he spoke with Evans on his birthday, Feb. 4.

``He said to me, 'I lived a great life and everything now is gravy. I take it day by day,''' Feinstein said in a telephone interview from New York. ``He was always thrilled that his work survived.''

Evans' musical partnership with Livingston spanned more than six decades, with Livingston providing the melodies and Evans writing the lyrics.

Often called the last of the great songwriters, the duo earned seven Academy Award nominations and won three _ in 1948 for ``Buttons and Bows'' in the film ``Paleface,'' in 1950 for ``Mona Lisa'' in the movie ``Captain Carey, USA'' and in 1956 for ``Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)'' from ``The Man Who Knew Too Much.''

They also produced the classic Christmas carol ``Silver Bells,'' and the theme songs for the television series ``Bonanza'' and ``Mr. Ed.''

Evans and Livingston wrote songs for dozens of movies, most of them when they were under contract with Paramount from 1945 to 1955. But the duo also wrote the music and lyrics for two Broadway musicals - ``Oh Captain!'' in 1958 and ``Let It Ride'' in 1961 - as well as many unproduced scores.

Livingston died in 2001 at age 86.

Evans, whose wife died in 2003, is survived by his sister.