Name at birth: Arthur Arshawsky
Artie Shaw was a leading jazz clarinetist and big band leader of the mid-20th century. His hit 1938 recording of Begin the Beguine made him a popular rival to superstar clarinetist Benny Goodman. Artie Shaw developed a reputation as a reluctant and somewhat grouchy genius; his big bands were roaring successes but he frequently broke them up, only to form new bands months or years later. He also dabbled in symphonic music and avant-garde jazz combos and led a U.S. Navy big band during World War II. Later Shaw wrote books, including the semi-autobiographical The Trouble With Cinderella (1952). A famous ladies' man in his day, Artie Shaw was married eight times, including marriages to Hollywood beauties Lana Turner and Ava Gardner. Always unpredictable, Shaw quit the music business in 1954, though a big band bearing his name was reformed in 1983 and continued touring into the 21st century.