January 10, 1904
|Died||January 15, 1987 83) (aged|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City|
|Known for|| Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz |
Barnaby in Babes in Toyland
Raymond Wallace Bolger (January 10, 1904 – January 15, 1987)was an American film and television actor, vaudevillian, singer, dancer (particularly of tap) and stage performer (particularly musical theatre) who started in the silent film era. He was a major Broadway performer in the 1930s and beyond (see below). He is best known for his role as the Scarecrow and his Kansas counterpart farm worker "Hunk" in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the villainous Barnaby in Walt Disney's holiday musical fantasy Babes in Toyland . He was also the host of his eponymous television show, The Ray Bolger Show from 1953 and 1955, originally known as "Where's Raymond?"
Bolger was born at 598 Second St., South Boston, Massachusetts into a Catholic family of Irish descent, the son of James Edward Bolger and Anne C. Wallace.His father James was first-generation Irish, and was born in Fall River, Massachusetts; his mother "Annie" who had a large Italian family, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He grew up and attended school in the Codman Square section of Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating high school he worked for a peanut company, as a bank messenger, and for the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, before finding his way to vaudeville by gaining a role on Broadway in “The Passing Show of 1926."
His entertainment aspirations evolved from the vaudeville shows of his youth. He began his career in a vaudeville tap show, creating the act "Sanford & Bolger" with his dance partner. In 1926, he danced at New York City's legendary Palace Theatre, the premier vaudeville theatre in the United States. His limber body and improvisational dance movement won him many leading roles on Broadway in the 1930s. Eventually, his career would also encompass film, television and nightclub work.In 1932 he was elected to the theater club, The Lambs and performed on opening night at Radio City Music Hall in December 1932.
Bolger signed his first cinema contract with MGM in 1936, and although The Wizard of Oz was early in his film career, he appeared in other movies of note. His best known pre-Oz appearance was The Great Ziegfeld (1936), in which he portrayed himself. He also appeared in Sweethearts (1938), the first MGM film in Technicolor, starring Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald. He also appeared in the Eleanor Powell vehicle Rosalie (1937), which also starred Eddy and Frank Morgan.
Bolger's MGM contract stipulated that he would play any part the studio chose. However, he was unhappy when he was originally cast as the Tin Woodman in the studio's 1939 feature film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz . The role of the Scarecrow had already been assigned to another dancing studio contract player, Buddy Ebsen. In time, the roles were shuffled around. Bolger's face was permanently lined by wearing the Scarecrow's makeup.
Following The Wizard of Oz, Bolger moved to RKO Pictures. In 1941, he was a featured act at the Paramount Theatre in New York, working with the Harry James Band. He would do tap dance routines, sometimes in a mock-challenge dance with the band's pianist, Al Lerner. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and Bolger's performance was interrupted by President Roosevelt's announcement of the news of the attack.Bolger toured in USO shows in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and appeared in the United Artists wartime film Stage Door Canteen (1943).
In 1946, he returned to MGM for a featured role in The Harvey Girls . Also that year, he recorded a children's album, The Churkendoose , featuring the story of a misfit fowl ("part chicken, turkey, duck, and goose") which teaches children that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it "all depends on how you look at things".
Bolger's Broadway credits included Life Begins at 8:40 (1934), On Your Toes (1936), By Jupiter (1942), All American (1962) and Where's Charley? (1948), for which he won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical and in which he introduced "Once in Love with Amy", the song often connected with him. He repeated his stage role in the 1952 film version of the musical.
Bolger appeared in his own ABC television sitcom with a variety show theme, Where's Raymond? (1953–1954), renamed the second year as The Ray Bolger Show (1954–55).He continued to star in several films, including Walt Disney's remake of Babes in Toyland (1961) and smaller cameos throughout the 1960s and 1970.
Bolger made frequent guest appearances on television, including the episode "Rich Man, Poor Man" of the short-lived The Jean Arthur Show in 1966. In the 1970s, he had a recurring role as Fred Renfrew, the father of Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) on The Partridge Family , and appeared in Little House on the Prairie as Toby Noe and also guest-starred on other television series such as Battlestar Galactica , Fantasy Island and The Love Boat . In the late 1970s, reaching back to his Irish roots, Bolger played in a commercial for Safeway Supermarket's "Scotch Buy" brand. It covered many products ranging from canned food to paper towels to beer and cigarettes. Bolger popularized the jingle, "Scotch Buy - taint fancy but it shore is good."His last television appearance was on Diff'rent Strokes in 1984, three years before his death.
In his later years, he danced in a Dr Pepper television commercial, and in 1985, he and Liza Minnelli, the daughter of his Oz costar Judy Garland, starred in That's Dancing! , a film also written by Jack Haley, Jr., the son of Jack Haley, who portrayed the Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz.
In 1998, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
In 2016, the City of Boston commissioned a mural in Ray Bolger's honor in the Codman Square section of the Dorchester neighborhood.
Bolger was married to Gwendolyn Rickard for over 57 years. They had no children.He was a Roman Catholic, and a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California.
Bolger was a lifelong Republican who campaigned for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential electionand Richard Nixon in 1968.
Bolger's great-nephew is actor John Bolger.
Bolger was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1986, and at the end of that year, his health deteriorated and he left his Beverly Hills home to live in a nursing home in Los Angeles. He died there on January 15, 1987, 5 days after his 83rd birthday.He was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.
At the time of his death, he was the last surviving maincredited cast member of The Wizard of Oz.At Judy Garland's funeral, Bolger was the only one of her Oz costars to be present. He joined Harold Arlen, the composer of "Over the Rainbow", and his wife, Anya Taranda. They were reported as among the last remaining guests at the conclusion of the service.
Whenever asked whether he received any residuals from telecasts of the 1939 classic, Bolger would reply: "No, just immortality. I'll settle for that."Bolger's Scarecrow is ranked among the "most beloved movie characters of all time" by AMC and the American Film Institute.
For his contributions to the film industry, Bolger received a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. It is located at 6788 Hollywood Boulevard.
In 2019, the biography More Than a Scarecrow by Holly Van Leuven was published, the first comprehensive biography of Bolger.
|1936||The Great Ziegfeld||Ray Bolger|
|1938||The Girl of the Golden West||Happy Moore||(scenes deleted)|
|1939||The Wizard of Oz||Hunk / The Scarecrow|
|1942||Four Jacks and a Jill||Nifty Sullivan|
|1943||Forever and a Day||Sentry||(scenes deleted)|
|1943||Stage Door Canteen||Ray Bolger|
|1946||The Harvey Girls||Chris Maule|
|1949||Look for the Silver Lining||Jack Donahue|
|1952||Where's Charley?||Charley Wykeham|
|1952||April in Paris||S. Winthrop Putnam|
|1961||Babes in Toyland||Barnaby|
|1966||The Daydreamer||The Pieman|
|1979||Just You and Me, Kid||Tom|
|1979||The Runner Stumbles||Monsignor Nicholson|
|1982||Annie||Sound Effects Man||Uncredited|
|1985||That's Dancing!||Himself - Host||Documentary film|
|1953–1955||Where's Raymond?||Raymond 'Ray' Wallace||Lead role (61 episodes)|
|1958–1959||General Electric Theater||Stan Maylor / Alfred Boggs||2 episodes|
|1962||The Red Skelton Show||Mayor Threadbare III||Episode: "The Mayor of Central Park"|
|1962||The Little Sweep||Storyteller||Television film|
|1966||The Jean Arthur Show||Wealthy Man||Episode: "Rich Man, Poor Man"|
|1970–1972||The Partridge Family||Grandpa Renfrew||Recurring role (3 episodes)|
|1971||Nanny and the Professor||Uncle Horace||Episode: "South Sea Island Sweetheart"|
|1976||The Entertainer||Billy Rice||Television film|
|1976||Captains and the Kings||R.J. Squibbs||Television miniseries (Chapter I)|
|1977–1979||The Love Boat||Andy Hopkins / Horace McDonald||2 episodes|
|1978||Baretta||Episode: "Just for Laughs"|
|1978||Three on a Date||Andrew||Television film|
|1978–1982||Fantasy Island||Gaylord Nelson / Spencer Randolph||2 episodes|
|1978–1979||Little House on the Prairie||Toby Noe||2 episodes|
|1979||Heaven Only Knows||Simon||Television pilot|
|1979||Battlestar Galactica||Vector||Episode: "Greetings from Earth"|
|1981||Aloha Paradise||Harry Carr||Episode: "Best of Friends/Success/Nine Karats"|
|1981||Peter and the Wolf||Narrator||Television film|
|1983||Peter and the Magic Egg||Uncle Amos||Voice, Television special|
|1984||Diff'rent Strokes||Clarence Markwell||Episode: "A Haunting We Will Go", (final appearance)|
|1926||The Merry World||Performer||Imperial Theatre|
|1926||A Night in Paris||Performer||44th Street Theatre|
|1929||Heads Up||Georgie||Alvin Theatre|
|1931||George White's Scandals of 1931||Performer||Apollo Theatre|
|1934||Life Begins at 8:40||Performer||Winter Garden Theatre|
|1936||On Your Toes||Phil Dolan III, Hoofer||Imperial Theatre|
|1940||Keep Off the Grass||Performer||Broadhurst Theatre|
|1942||By Jupiter||Sapiens||Shubert Theatre|
|1946||Three to Make Ready||Performer||Adelphi Theatre|
|1948||Where's Charley?||Charley Wykeham||St. James Theatre|
|1951||Where's Charley? (revival)||Charley Wykeham||Broadway Theatre|
|1962||All-American||Professor Fodorski||Winter Garden Theatre|
|1969||Come Summer||Phineas Sharp||Lunt-Fontanne Theatre|
Harold Albertson, known professionally as Jack Albertson, was an American actor, comedian, dancer, and singer who also performed in vaudeville. Albertson was a Tony, Oscar and Emmy winning actor. For his performance as John Cleary in the 1964 play The Subject Was Roses and its 1968 film adaptation, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His other notable roles include Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971); Manny Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure (1972); and Ed Brown in the television sitcom Chico and the Man (1974–78), for which he won an Emmy. For his contributions to the television industry, Albertson was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977 at 6253 Hollywood Boulevard.
Buddy Ebsen, was an American actor, comedian, and dancer, whose career spanned seven decades. His most famous role was as Jed Clampett in the CBS television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–1971); afterwards he starred as the title character in the television detective drama Barnaby Jones (1973–1980).
Arthur Freed was an American lyricist and Hollywood film producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture twice, in 1951 for An American in Paris and in 1958 for Gigi. Both films were musicals. In addition, he produced and was also a co-lyricist for the film Singin' in the Rain.
Irving Lahrheim, known professionally as Bert Lahr, was an American actor of stage and screen, vaudevillian and comedian. Lahr is best known for his role as the Cowardly Lion, as well as his counterpart Kansas farmworker "Zeke", in the MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (1939). He was well known for his quick-witted humor and his work in burlesque, vaudeville, and on Broadway.
John Joseph "Jack" Haley Jr. was an American vaudevillian, actor, comedian, radio host, singer and dancer, best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man and his farmhand counterpart Hickory in the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.
Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman, also known as the Tin Man or—mistakenly—the "Tin Woodsman," is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum. Baum's Tin Woodman first appeared in his classic 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and reappeared in many other subsequent Oz books in the series. In late 19th-century America, men made out of various tin pieces were used in advertising and political cartoons. Baum, who was editing a magazine on decorating shop windows when he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was reportedly inspired to invent the Tin Woodman by a figure he had built out of metal parts for a shop display.
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Often seen as one of the greatest films of all time, it is the most commercially successful adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Directed primarily by Victor Fleming, the film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale alongside Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Margaret Hamilton.
The Scarecrow is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum and illustrator W.W. Denslow. In his first appearance, the Scarecrow reveals that he lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one. In reality, he is only two days old and merely naïve. Throughout the course of the novel, he proves to have the brains he seeks and is later recognized as "the wisest man in all of Oz," although he continues to credit the Wizard for them. He is, however, wise enough to know his own limitations and all too happy to hand the rulership of Oz, passed to him by the Wizard, to Princess Ozma, and become one of her trusted advisors, though he typically spends more time having fun than advising.
The Harvey Girls is a 1946 Technicolor American musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, about Fred Harvey's famous Harvey House waitresses. Directed by George Sidney, the film stars Judy Garland and features John Hodiak, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury, as well as Preston Foster, Virginia O'Brien, Kenny Baker, Marjorie Main and Chill Wills. Future star Cyd Charisse appears in her first speaking role on film.
"We're Off to See the Wizard" is one of the classic and most memorable songs from the Academy Award-winning 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Composer Harold Arlen described it, along with "The Merry Old Land of Oz" and "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead", as one of the "lemon drop" songs of the film. The lyrics are by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg.
"If I Only Had a Brain" is a song by Harold Arlen (music) and Yip Harburg (lyrics). The song is sung in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz by the character Scarecrow, played by Ray Bolger, when he meets Dorothy, played by Judy Garland. The characters pine about what each wants from the Wizard. It was also sung in Jeremy Sams and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 2011 musical adaptation with an additional reprise called "If We Only Had a Plan" when the characters discuss on how to rescue Dorothy in Act II.
Fred Andrew Stone was an American actor. Stone began his career as a performer in circuses and minstrel shows, went on to act on vaudeville, and became a star on Broadway and in feature films, which earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Wiz is a 1978 American musical adventure fantasy film produced by Universal Pictures and Motown Productions and released by Universal Pictures on October 24, 1978. A reimagining of L. Frank Baum's classic 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz featuring an all-black cast, the film was loosely adapted from the 1974 Broadway musical of the same name. It follows the adventures of Dorothy, a shy, twenty-four-year-old Harlem schoolteacher who finds herself magically transported to the urban fantasy Land of Oz, which resembles a dream version of New York City. Befriended by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, she travels through the city to seek an audience with the mysterious Wiz, who they say is the only one powerful enough to send her home.
Babes in Arms is the 1939 American film version of the 1937 Broadway musical of the same title. Directed by Busby Berkeley, it stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, and features Charles Winninger, Guy Kibbee, June Preisser, Grace Hayes, and Betty Jaynes. The film concerns a group of youngsters trying to put on a show to prove their vaudevillian parents wrong and make it to Broadway. The original Broadway script was significantly revamped, restructured, and rewritten to accommodate Hollywood's needs. Almost all of the Rodgers and Hart songs from the Broadway musical were discarded.
Lee Dixon was an actor in 1930s and 1940s. He appeared in Hollywood musicals and other films as well as on the Broadway stage.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a 1900 children's novel written by American author L. Frank Baum. Since its first publication in 1900, it has been adapted many times: for film, television, theatre, books, comics, games, and other media.
Broadway to Hollywood is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film directed by Willard Mack, produced by Harry Rapf, cinematography by Norbert Brodine and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film features many of MGM's stars of the time, including Frank Morgan, Alice Brady, May Robson, Madge Evans, Jimmy Durante, Mickey Rooney, and Jackie Cooper. Brothers Moe Howard and Curly Howard of The Three Stooges appear—without Ted Healy and without Larry Fine—almost unrecognizably, as Otto and Fritz, two clowns in makeup. It was the first film to feature Nelson Eddy.
Where's Raymond? is an American sitcom that aired on ABC, starring Ray Bolger. The series aired from October 1953 to April 22, 1955. The series' title was spurred by Bolger's Broadway stage hit Where's Charley?.
The Cowardly Lion is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum. He is depicted as an African lion, but like all animals in Oz, he can speak.
Patricia Bowman was an American ballerina, ballroom dancer, musical theatre actress, television personality, and dance teacher. Dance critic Jack Anderson described her as "the first American ballerina to win critical acclaim and wide popularity as a classical and a musical-theater dancer... Her sparkling stage personality won her many fans." She was the first prima ballerina of the Radio City Music Hall when it opened in 1932, and is chiefly remembered for her work as a founding member of the American Ballet Theatre with whom she was a principal dancer from 1939 to 1941. Active as a performer in Broadway musicals from 1925 to 1944, her performance credits on the New York stage include: the George White's Scandals (1925-1927), the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934, Calling All Stars (1934-1935), Arthur Schwartz's Virgina (1937), and Fritz Kreisler's Rhapsody (1944). In 1942 she portrayed the Sorceress of the North in the first stage adaptation of the 1939 movie musical The Wizard of Oz at The MUNY. On television, she appeared in several very early broadcasts in 1931 and 1939, and later headlined her own program, The Patricia Bowman Show for CBS in 1951. She was the director of a ballet school in New York from 1957 to 1977; after which she lived in retirement in Las Vegas.
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