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With a career that spans more than 60 years, he was honored with SHOF’s highest accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 2008.


The acclaimed songwriter, entertainer, and actor Paul Anka was only 16 when he emerged in 1957 from Ottawa, Canada, onto the international music market. His plaintive song "Diana" unleashed an imaginative new musical style into the pop mainstream and would go on to sell 20 million copies worldwide.

At a time when Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Motown groups dominated the rock n’ roll scene, Anka was giving a romantic voice to teenage concerns. His best-known titles of that early era included hits like “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” “You Are My Destiny," "Lonely Boy" and "Puppy Love," which helped kick off Donny Osmond's career. By age 18, he had five Top 5 hits to his credit.

By the early sixties, Anka had become well established as a major new performing star and prolific songwriter. He was a frequent guest on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, through which he continued to expand his fan base. In 1962, he wrote what may well be the most played-on-the-air song in television history, "Johnny's Theme," which was the opening song for The Tonight Show. It was performed more than 1.4 million times during the Johnny Carson's 30-year run as host. The song earned him the Classic Contribution Award from BMI.

Anka also created music for film, and, at certain points, appeared on-screen as well. His soundtrack for The Longest Day, in which he also acted, won him an Academy Award nomination. He also wrote the themes for the films No Way Out and Atlantic City; and acted in 3000 Miles to Graceland, Mad Dog Days and Captain Ron.

Anka's songwriting activity has never tapered,…

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