|Raymond Wallace "Ray" Bolger
Birthplace: Dorchester, Massachusettes, U.S.A.
1933 The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour
1935 Dedication of the Fifty Kilowatt Transmitter
1938 Good News
1939 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1944 Mail Call
1944 Radio Hall of Fame
1945 The Ray Bolger Show
1945 The Jimmy Durante Show
1949 Voice of the Army
1949 Twin Views Of the News
1951 The Big Show
1954 Family Theater
Ray Bolger circa 1945
|From the January 16th 1987 edition of the Indiana Gazette:
Ray Bolger dies at 83
LOS ANGELES (AP) Ray Bolger, the last surviving member of the whimsical foursome that skipped down the Yellow Brick Road in the classic film "The Wizard of Oz," has died less than a week after his 83rd birthday.
Bolger, the lean and limber actor and dancer whose career spanned six decades, died at a nursing home
Thursday from complications of cancer, said family spokesman Barry Greenberg. Bolger had celebrated his birthday Saturday.
"Now, Dorothy and her friends are back together again," said Jack Haley Jr., whose father played the Tin Man to Bolger's Scarecrow in the 1939 movie. Dorothy was portrayed by Judy Garland, who died in 1969, two years after Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion. Jack Haley Sr. died in 1979.
"A great dancer and a great performer," said actress Rose Marie. "He sang, he danced, he did skits, he did comedy, he did drama."
Bolger, who appeared in more than a dozen movies, preferred to think of himself as a comedian rather than.a dancer.
"I was hired as a comedian in my first show and I'm still a comedian," he once said. "I became a dancer in
self-defense. I was doing a comedy monologue and didn't know how else to get off, so I danced off."
Michael Kidd, who choreographed Bolger in the 1952 movie "Where's Charley," said "nobody danced the way he did."
"His legs gave out, his knees buckled. I always wondered how his knees held up. He would do a series of falls and get up and do them over and over again."
The dancing stopped in 1984.
"I stepped down from the stage and there was nothing there," Bolger recalled after the performance in Coronado.
He underwent surgery to receive an artifical hip after X-rays showed almost all the cartilage was gone. His doctor said he could dance again, "But I'm 80, and how much more dancing do I want to do?" Bolger asked.
"The Wizard of Oz," in which he portrayed the brave man of straw in search of a brain, was his favorite film, But he said he had no idea the movie would become a classic.
"I knew that I was taking part in a strange kind of adventure," he said. "Everything had to be invented for the picture the effects, the sound, the Technicolor. It was all new. But when the reviews came out, it was a terrific disappointment. The picture got terrible notices.
"It was only when 'The Wizard of Oz' came into the home with television that it redeemed itself. Then it was no longer a picture, it was an institution. After all, 'The Wizard of Oz' carries the message that there's no place like home."
Raymond Wallace Bolger was born in Boston in 1904. He said he became interested in dance after stepping all over his date at a senior prom.
He first performed in an amateur show put on by the insurance company where he worked. He avidly attended the theater, and picked up pointers on tap from a night watchman. He was fired for dancing in the halls.
Bolger continued studying dance and by 1924 was in vaudeville, where he met Gwendolyn Rickard, whom he married in 1929. He spent two years on Broadway in "George White's Scandals of 1931," and got good reviews in "Life Begins at 8:40."
Stardom came in 1936, when he appeared in "On Your Toes," which included the celebrated and exhausting dance number "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." His later films included "The Great Ziegfeld," "Rosalie," Sweethearts" and "Sunny."
He later returned to Broadway for appearances in several shows. His television career began with the ABC musical comedy show "Where's Raymond" from 1953-54 followed by "The Ray Bolger Show" from 1954-55 and NBC-TV's "Washington Square" in the late '50s.
He took his show on the road for months each year well past middle age, no longer lean but delighting audiences with his soft-shoe and tap routines.
Here is a list of films in which Ray Bolger appeared :
"The Great Ziegfeld," 1936.
"The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
"Four Jacks and a Jill," 1942.
"Stage Door Canteen," 1943.
"The Harvey Girls," 1946.
"Make Mine Laughs," 1949.
"Look for the Silver Lining," 1949.
"Where's Charley?" 1952.
"April in Paris," 1953.
"Babes in Toyland," 1961.
"The Daydreamer," 1966.
"The Entertainer," 1975.
"The Runner Stumbles," 1979.