George Raft

Biography: George Raft was one of the few "tough guy" movie stars who could lay claim to being the genuine article. Born in the notorious Hell's Kitchen section of New York (among his best friends was Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel), he supported himself as a moving man, prizefighter, and driver for gangster boss Owney Madden. He enjoyed greater success as a ballroom dancer, eventually working for legendary speakeasy owner Texas Guinan. After gaining Broadway experience in such musicals as Gay Paree and Palm Beach Nights, he tried his luck in Hollywood, where after a few indifferent roles he skyrocketed to stardom as coin-flipping gunman Guido Rinaldo in Howard Hawks' Scarface (1931). As soon as he was able, he moved away from gangster roles to play romantic leads, often opposite his real life girlfriends (though married to Grayce Mulrooney from 1916 to her death in 1970, he lived apart from her during most of the union, squiring some of Hollywood's most beautiful women with reckless abandon).George Raft was one of the few "tough guy" movie stars who could lay claim to being the genuine article. Born in the notorious Hell's Kitchen section of New York (among his best friends was Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel), he supported himself as a moving man, prizefighter, and driver for gangster boss Owney Madden. He enjoyed greater success as a ballroom dancer, eventually working for legendary speakeasy owner Texas Guinan. After gaining Broadway experience in such musicals as Gay Paree and Palm Beach Nights, he tried his luck in Hollywood, where after a few indifferent roles he skyrocketed to stardom as coin-flipping gunman Guido Rinaldo in Howard Hawks' Scarface (1931). As soon as he was able, he moved away from gangster roles to play romantic leads, often opposite his real life girlfriends (though married to Grayce Mulrooney from 1916 to her death in 1970, he lived apart from her during most of the union, squiring some of Hollywood's most beautiful women with reckless abandon). Extremely selective in his choice of film roles -- for a long time he refused to "die" onscreen out of respect for his mother -- Raft turned down a number of plum roles, including the leads in High Sierra (1940) and Maltese Falcon (1941), which were eventually played by Humphrey Bogart; as director Raoul Walsh once noted, "Georgie wouldn't know a good film role if it stood up and bit him." Generally well-liked by the Hollywood community, Raft occasionally allowed his temper to get the better of him, as witness the well-publicized on-set row between himself and Edward G. Robinson during filming of Manpower (Raft would always insist that the argument was over the affections of co-star Marlene Dietrich). By 1950, Raft's popularity had dropped considerably due to substandard films, forcing the actor to seek movie work abroad. He also starred in the 1953 TV series I'm the Law, only to watch his percentage-of-profits salary vanish when the series' producer, Lou Costello, ran afoul of the IRS. Things began to go from bad to worse when in 1955 the New York Tax Commission denied him permission to buy an interest in the Flamingo Club because of his continuing associations with his gangster pals. Four years later, Raft's gambling casino in Havana was closed down by Fidel Castro, leaving the actor penniless. He recouped some of his money by play a self-parodying character, Spats Colombo, in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959), and by selling the movie rights to his life story to Allied Artists, who in 1960 came out with The George Raft Story starring Ray Danton. But within a year he was broke again, having been targeted by the Feds for income tax evasion. He spent the first years of the 1960s as manager of a London gambling club, but in 1968 the British authorities, again citing his gangster cronies, ordered him to return to the U.S. In the twilight of his life George Raft enjoyed a comeback of sorts with a flurry of TV commercial appearances, talk show interviews, and cameo roles in films like The Man With Bogart's Face; considerably mellowed since his movie heyday, he was described by one film historian as "the sweetest man in Hollywood." Expand

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Title: Year: Credit: User score:
tbd Batman (1966): Season 2 Jan 12, 1966 Himself tbd