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George Raft Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (26) | Personal Quotes (6) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 26 September 1901New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 24 November 1980Los Angeles, California, USA  (leukemia)
Birth NameGeorge Ranft
Nickname Georgie
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

George Raft was born and grew up in a poor family in Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the roughest, meanest areas of New York City. He was born George Ranft, and was the son of Eva (Glockner) and Conrad Ranft, a department store deliveryman. His parents were both of German descent. In his youth, he showed a great interest in, and aptitude for, dancing. That, combined with his dark good looks and sharp dressing, made him a local favorite at such spots as the El Fey Club with Texas Guinan. In 1928, Raft went to Hollywood to try his luck at acting. His first big role was as the coin-tossing henchman in Scarface (1932). His career was marked by numerous tough-guy roles, often a gangster or convict. The believability with which he played these, together with his lifelong associations with such real-life gangsters as Owney Madden and Bugsy Siegel, added to persistent rumors that he was also a gangster. The slightly shady reputation may have helped his popularity early on, but it made him somewhat undesirable to movie executives later in his career. He somewhat parodied his gangster reputation in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Spouse (2)

Grace Mulrooney (1923 - 1970) (her death)
? (? - ?) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (26)

Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA, in the Court of Remembrance.
He turned down High Sierra (1941),, which gave Humphrey Bogart his big break, The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942) and Double Indemnity (1944).
Not much is known about his marriage to Mulrooney except that she was some years his senior. Although separated early, they were never divorced, and he continued to support her faithfully until her death in 1970.
Was a close friend of notorious gangster Benjamin Bugsy Siegel since their childhood in New York. Siegel actually lived at Raft's home in Hollywood for a time while trying to make inroads for organized crime within the movie colony.
Second actor to portray the title role for CBS Radio's "The Adventures of Rocky Jordan" (1951-1953).
Banned from entering Britain in 1966 because of his alleged Mafia connections.
Appeared with Mae West in both her first (Night After Night (1932)) and last (Sextette (1978)) films. He died two days after West's death.
According to James Cagney's autobiography Cagney By Cagney, (Published by Doubleday and Company Inc 1976), a Mafia plan to murder Cagney by dropping a several hundred pound klieg light on top of him was stopped at the insistence of George Raft. Cagney at that time was President of the Screen Actors Guild and was determined not to let the mob infiltrate the industry. Raft used his 'many' mob connections to cancel the hit.
Is portrayed by by Ray Danton in The George Raft Story (1961), Nicholas Mayer in Mae West (1982) and by Joe Mantegna in Bugsy (1991).
July 1939: Signed a long-term contract with Warner Bros. Studios.
As a teenager, he was a bat-boy for the New York Highlanders (Yankees), tried out for semi-pro baseball, boxed at the Polo Athletic Club and hustled pool.
Featured in "Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir" by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry (McFarland, 2003).
A lifelong baseball fan, by 1955 he had attended the World Series for the past 25 years.
His parents Conrad and Eva Ranft had ten children, nine of them boys, with George the eldest.
According to both the 1900 and 1910 Censuses for New York City, Raft only had one sibling named Eva "Katie" Ranft, born on April 18, 1896 in Manhattan.
George's father, Conrad Ranft, was born in Massachusetts, to German parents, Catherine Weil and Christopher Ranft. George's mother, Eva (Glockner), was born in Germany.
Theft of $3150 worth of jewelry and clothing from Beverly Hills home at 1218 Coldwater Canyon Road reported May 10, 1939.
The "Hell's Kitchen" set built for George in 'Invisible Stripes' was an exact replica of Raft's own New York birthplace.
His father was reported to having two thriving businesses: During the winter, the elder Raft was superintendent of the John Wanamaker department store. In the summer he owned and managed a merry-go-round at a small amusement park at Hasting-on-the-Hudson, New York. That merry-go-round was a family affair, began by George's grandfather. This was at Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Mother, Eva, died of asthma at her 610 West 174th Street home in 1937, after a long illness, at the age of 62. Mr. Raft was at her bedside.
There has been much debate over when George was born. Although most sources and articles claim his birth year as 1895, including his gravestone, New York census reports suggest Mr. Raft was born in 1901.
According to The Lewiston Daily Sun newspaper June 1936, George was 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighed 155 pounds, had an olive complexion, black hair and brown eyes.
As previously reported, he turned down the roles of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle in "High Sierra (1941)", Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon (1941)", and Rick Blaine in "Casablanca (1942)." All three of these parts were picked up by Humphrey Bogart, and each one was essential in making Bogart a superstar.
He played himself in ten films: Broadway (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), Nous irons à Paris (1950), The Ladies Man (1961), The Patsy (1964), Casino Royale (1967), Silent Treatment (1968), The Great Sex War (1969), Deadhead Miles (1973) and Sextette (1978).
Raft never looked at himself on film. After not watching a clip of his movies on the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson asked why. Raft said he said he would find so much wrong with his performance that he would spend his next film worried about his acting and never get it right. He only wanted to worry if people stopped going to his movies.
During the late-1950s, Raft was employed as a celebrity greeter at the Mafia-owned Hotel Capri casino in Havana, a job that played off his image as a movie mobster and tough guy. He was present on January 1, 1959 when rebels stormed Havana, overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista. According to Raft, as the rebels began looting the Capri, they recognized him and he was able to convince them not to hurt anyone.

Personal Quotes (6)

[on his acting] I'm afraid to look, because I'm probably awful.
I must have gone through $10 million during my career. Part of the loot went for gambling, part for horses and part for women. The rest I spent foolishly.
[on acting] You see, I found it tough work. What I would do would be to think over the scene in my mind and try to become whoever I was playing. I would try to feel like the person in that particular scene. Sometimes my words would be different from the script.
[In a 1936 interview, discussing former jobs before getting into the acting profession] My one ambition then was to drive a horse. So I got a job driving a delivery wagon for a large grocery company. I drove up and down Ninth avenue like I was daffy. I raced all the other delivery wagons. I gave all the boys rides. Deliveries were always late, customers complained, and I was fired.
[April, 1944] Here I am, back in a musical comedy picture. And that's not all. A fan called me from Chicago the other day and told me I was her pin-up boy. How d'ya like that? I'm a boy, now.
[on turning down the leading part in one of Hollywood's greatest dramas] Whoever heard of Casablanca? I don't want to star opposite an unknown Swedish broad.

Salary (1)

Manpower (1941) $60,000

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