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George Raft

George Raft

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1895-09-26

75 Movies · 1 TV Series

Biography

George Raft (born George Ranft; September 26, 1901 – November 24, 1980) was an American film actor and dancer identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. A stylish leading man in dozens of movies, Raft is remembered for his gangster roles in Scarface (1932), Each Dawn I Die (1939) with James Cagney, and Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, as a dancer in Bolero (1934) with Carole Lombard, and a truck driver in They Drive by Night (1940) with Humphrey Bogart.Raft said he never regarded himself as an actor. "I wanted to be me," he said.

Personal Life

Raft married Grace Mulrooney (1902–1970) in 1923, long before his stardom. The pair separated soon thereafter, but the devoutly Catholic Mulrooney refused to grant a divorce, and Raft remained married to her, and continued to support her, until her death in 1970. A romantic figure in Hollywood, Raft had love affairs with Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, Carole Lombard, and Mae West. He stated publicly that he wanted to marry Norma Shearer, with whom he had a long romance, but his wife's refusal to allow a divorce eventually caused Shearer to end the affair.Raft died from emphysema at the age of 79 in Los Angeles, on November 24, 1980. Two days earlier, Mae West had died, and the two stretchers holding the stars' bodies were briefly alongside one other in the hallway of the mortuary for a coincidental silent reunion almost half a century after their first film together. Raft left behind no will. His estate consisted of a $10,000 insurance policy and some furniture. In the last years of his life he had mainly lived on $800 a month, a combination of social security and his pension. He was interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. Raft's personal effects, wardrobe, etc., were sold by means of a simple classified advertisement, listing the lot for $800 in Hemmings Motor News in the fall of 1981.

Early Life

George Raft was born in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, to a Jewish family of German descent, the son of Eva (née Glockner), a German immigrant, and Conrad Ranft, who was born in Massachusetts to German immigrant parents. His parents were married on November 17, 1895, in Manhattan. George's elder sister, Eva, known as "Katie", was born on April 18, 1896. Raft's grandfather had emigrated from Germany, and worked on merry-go-rounds and prospected for gold; his father worked in carnivals before settling in New York.Most obituaries cited Raft's year of birth as 1895, which the actor had stated was correct when he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, 7 months prior to his death. However, Raft is recorded in the New York City Birth Index as having been born on September 26, 1901, in Manhattan as "George Rauft" (although "Rauft" is likely a mistranscription of "Ranft"); the 1900 census for New York City lists his elder sister, Katie, as his parents' only child, with two children born and only one living. On the 1910 census, he is listed as being eight years old.via Associated Press, "'Tough guy' George raft dies of emphysema at 85", The Milwaukee Sentinel, November 25, 1980; accessed August 10, 2009."After growing up in New York's tough Hell's Kitchen area, Raft was a boxer, electrician, and baseball player before landing a job as a dancer in nightclubs in the 1920s."</ref> A boyhood friend of gangster Bugsy Siegel, and later a "wheel man" for the mob, Raft acknowledged having narrowly avoided a life of crime.Raft grew up on 41st Street and worked as an errand boy and a fishwrapper after school. His parents sent him to live at his grandparents' house on 164th Street. He left school at the age of 12, and left home aged 13. He worked as an apprentice electrician for a year, then boxed professionally for two years from aged fifteen onwards. As "Dutch Rauft", he had 14 bouts: nine victories, three defeats and two draws. (Another account says he had 25 bouts and was knocked out seven times.) He played minor league baseball, reportedly with Springfield of the Eastern League, as a utility outfielder with pitching aspirations. However, his batting was poor and he was dropped."I was just trying to find something that I liked that would make me a living", said Raft later. "I saw guys fighting, so I fought. I saw guys playing ball, so I played ball. Then I saw guys dancing... and getting paid for it!"

Movies & TV Series

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