George Raft

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Well if you're one so am I and damned proud of it.

I don't think today's stars will be remembered like the stars of yesteryear. They are known today but past this generation very few will pass into film folklore. It's not just classic movies and stars it's current affairs and recent history in general. How can people not know about the more important events of the twentieth century? Yet I know some people have no idea who Winston Churchill was or Hitler and that's frightening.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: George Raft

Post by Rita Hayworth »

charliechaplinfan wrote: How can people not know about the more important events of the twentieth century? Yet I know some people have no idea who Winston Churchill was or Hitler and that's frightening.
My nephews and nieces during their high school days told me that their school system do not teach them anything about Winston Churchill and/or Hitler because the current school administration (district level) told all teachers do not teach any history involving war and/or violence. I ended up tutoring them because they were curious about them.

History is becoming a vanishing subject these days. It's sad, but true ... where I'm come from.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Post by charliechaplinfan »

It's a subject of such importance and interest. I tutor our children on history a subject we all love and try to take them to important places of history. I can't understand the negligence of the subject, violence is awful but unfortunately it does drive an awful lot of points of history forward.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
RedRiver
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Re: George Raft

Post by RedRiver »

When I was in First Grade, nobody had heard of Barack Obama. He hadn't been born yet!
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Western Guy, George Raft's bioraphy arrived today. I've read the introduction and the first couple of chapters, I'm up to Mae West, what a story, it could be bulked up into a novel, in fact it probably has been. I literally couldn't put it down until I had too. In those first couple of chapters there is so much information, so many titbits, how did you pick up all the information? Was it from old articles and the previous book written on him or did you manage to find someone who still remembered? Did you ever meet him or did he know about the interest you had in him?

It truly is very good writing, concise, to the point, you don't need to flesh it out, there's so much information it jumps off the page. I'll keep you updated :D
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Post by Western Guy »

Wow ccf, you really just made my day with your complimentary comments regarding my Raft book. I can't thank you enough. Actually, I've been researching George's life since 1972 (after I became knocked out by him as Stacey in "Each Dawn I Die"). I picked up as much personal and professional info about him through the years as was available, using as many (I hope) legitimate sources along the way. I also was so very fortunate to have met Raft co-players such as Jack LaRue (a sweetheart of a guy); likewise Lloyd Nolan and Mike Mazurki, who offered their own valuable insights. Things just went from there. God bless my sweetheart Coleen Gray, Harry Morgan, Audrey Totter, Michelle Phillips and others who came through with their comments. Special mention must be made of my darling Sybil Jason who was incredible in the writing of the book and provided a totally different insight into the George Raft character. Of course Lew Yablonski was more than generous in sharing his memories as was Robert Davidson (Mack Gray's nephew).

Now I must be honest and say I'd love for my publisher to be willing to put out a second edition because I've since come across some amazing photos I'd love to add, including an ultra-rare photo of George as an infant. A photo I'm sure has never been seen before.

No, sadly and regrettably I never did get the chance to meet George, though back when I was in California speaking with guys like Lloyd Nolan and Jack La Rue, I really should have tried to track him down.
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moira finnie
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Re: George Raft

Post by moira finnie »

Wait, wait, Western Guy....*Whew*...You met Jack LaRue??..You met Lloyd Nolan??

Please, Western Guy, give us more. I know I'm not the only one who loves these actors. Could you please share what they were like? How they felt about their own careers? What roles they may have enjoyed most? I would be very grateful for any insights you could give. Thank you in advance for:
a) Joining our site
b.) Writing about classic films, (even if it isn't profitable)
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mrsl
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Re: George Raft

Post by mrsl »

.
I'm sorry to hop off the track but only for a minute. What was said about not teaching about Hitler and Churchill is more than frightening - it's insane!!! Haven't those people heard that history repeats itself? There's more violence in a two hour movie than a whole semester of the history of WWII. When you think of all the 21st Century has to offer in education and learning experience, it makes me glad to know that I won't be here to try to live through the mistakes that will be made. All I can do is pray for my grandkids.
.
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

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Jezebel38
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Re: George Raft

Post by Jezebel38 »

moirafinnie wrote:Wait, wait, Western Guy....*Whew*...You met Jack LaRue??..You met Lloyd Nolan??
Please, Western Guy, give us more. I know I'm not the only one who loves these actors.
What Moira said! Your calling Jack LaRue a "sweet guy" confirms what I'd heard about him in the past. I did find a photo of him with his sister from the early '30s - guess they were close? He was living with her when you met him - where was this? And I heard he had a nightclub for some time in the 1940's? I knew he was on stage with Mae West in Diamond Lil, but was not sure if they were involved, or why he wasn't used in the film.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Well not being able to get on to the site over the weekend made me concentrate on the George Raft biography.

Firstly, I really like George Raft, I don't know whether I should because he obviously had a temper about him and it seems that he was blinkered with loyalty towards his mob chums. HIs father and he were not compatible, I guess he had an equal amount of fathering on the street by Owney Madden and others, for their friendship he repayed them with the loyalty of silence in his later years apart from when he went onto the stand to defend one of them. That's how I want to view him, he could have been more involved beyond the booze running, something I can forgive because of the danger his none participation might have left him in. Is this how you view him Western Guy?

All those tales of the charm of the man, juxtaposed against the fights, with Edward G Robinson!! I'd never have thought it of him, I'd love to have seen that picture. This points to a huge insecurity despite his stardom. I fell for the charming George, one thing I found surprising was his birth date, I thought he was far younger, ten years in fact. He romanced Betty Grable, quite an age gap. I felt his wife did him a gross wrong by not divorcing him, perhaps the love of a good woman might have settled him, even if he wouldn't live in the same house as her. He was forced into seedier love affairs, behaving like a gentleman there too. Did you feel the same or do you think he wasn't cut out for long term contentment.

I congratulate you on the best biography I have read in a long time, you've turned an actor that isn't at the top of my lists of curiousity into one I need to see more pictures by and can already see a lot more charm in him. I've ordered Each Dawn I Die and I dug Taxi out to watch the dancing scene, I love Jimmy dancing and to see him dancing with Raft, I wish they'd had more screen time, Raft was only seen fleetingly but two distinctly different dancing styles. Is that Yiddish that Jimmy speaks at the beginning? I'm glad he was freinds with Cagney, of murder's row he's my favourite character.

Finally a line ablut Bogey, a fine actor, better than Raft from what I've seen. I'd rather have a night out with Raft, Bogey's offscreen antics and personality leave me a bit cold.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Post by Western Guy »

Well, with the site down over the weekend I was unable to read these wonderful comments. CCF, thank you again, sincerely, for your kind words regarding my Raft bio. You know, recently there has been some controversy regarding George's birth year (check out Raft's IMDb page). It is being said that he was actually born in 1901. However, Raft himself referred to himself as 85 in 1980, and his crypt marker has his birth date as 1895. I checked with Raft's pal Lew Yablonsky and he said that to the best of his knowledge 1895 was the correct year. If Raft was acutually born in 1901, it would have made him the baby of the warners tough guys. I'll still stick with the earlier year.

CCF, Each Dawn I Die is a Raft classic. If I could also make a suggestion, I'd put in an order for Invisible Stripes . It's probably my personal favorite of Raft's films and has a knockout supporting tough guy cast. Not one of Raft's best known films, but one I can watch repeatedly.

Taxi! is pretty good, though Raft is on and off screen pretty quickly - though Cagney does get to belt him. (And yes, Cagney does speak those lines to the cop in Yiddish). Raft also shows up super-fast in another early Cagney: Winner Takes All, but it's actually a scene taken from Raft's first movie Queen of the Night Clubs.

I think Raft was of two minds about being single (though legally married). He certainly enjoyed his freedom and ladies' man rep - in fact, some have suggested that Raft never really pushed hard for a divorce from Grayce because it was a convenient way for him NOT to enter a permanent relationship. But I do think he was deeply in love with Betty Grable (who wouldn't be?) I do believe she was one gal he wanted to marry and he did put an effort into obtaining a divorce. But once that romance fell apart, I feel Raft just intended to remain a bachelor. It certainly would have been interesting to see what changes would have happened in Raft's life had he married Grable -- or, earlier, Virginia Pine (another whom I think Raft did want to marry).

Well, as for your final comment. If you don't drink CCF, a night out with Raft would be the suggestion. If you imbibe and are in the move for some lively confrontation, then Bogie's the man.
Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Post by Western Guy »

Hi Moira:

Yes, I was very fortunate to meet both Lloyd Nolan (my 1974 interview with him is in Filmfax; I'm writing this from work so don't have the issue number handy but could post it tomorrow if you're interested). It's also mentioned in Sandy Grabman's Nolan biography. I corresponded with Lloyd throughout the early 70s and at one point mentioned that I was going to be making a summer trip to L.A. When Lloyd next wrote back he said to be sure to look him up when I was down California way. When I did meet him (and his wife Mell), it was the day before the couple was embarking on a trip to India and around the world (Lloyd LOVED to travel). Anyhoo, he seemed grateful for my visit as it was a reason to escape packing chores and I enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours with Lloyd, where we discussed (mainly) his career. I taped our conversation, which I later (much later) transcribed into the Filmfax interview. I will say this: He was a lovely, lovely guy and true gentleman who made me feel more welcome than I had any right to. And he was quick to admit that he had a terrible memory.

I met Jack La Rue in 1977. Again it was through corresopondence and a trip I was making to California. He was retired and living with his sister in an ultra-modern security apartment, sunny and spacious with a bar behind which there was a collection of photos of Jack personal and from his movies. Again, a total gentle gentleman who really seemed to enjoy chatting about his career. The only problem was that by that point Jack was somewhat hard of hearing. He looked well, though he wore these enormous eyeglasses that not only stood at odds with his movie tough guy persona but were actually quite comical. Jack talked about his longtime friendship with Raft and his suggesting George for the role in Scarface; talked a bit about his restaurant and how many big name celebrities (whom he wouldn't name) bounced checks; his dislike of Lawrence Tierney (with whom he had a bit of a dust-up and banned from his restaurant). Just amazing stuff for a starry-eyed movie kid.

Bottom line: Both were very kind, very gentle in nature and manner, and were not in any way tough guys. In fact, Jack said he didn't watch much television because so much of it was violent, and there was enough crime in the real world. I'll bet if he were around today he probably wouldn't even own a television.
feaito

Re: George Raft

Post by feaito »

Alison and WG, thanks for sharing these informative posts with us. I've been very enlightened about George Raft and his Bio, and of course it'll be added to my Wish List :wink:
Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Post by Western Guy »

Thank You, feaito. As I stated in the intro to my bio, I feel that George has been virtually forgotten by today's audience and, IMO, that's not only unfortunate but unfair. He was one of the shining stars of Classic Hollywood and his contribution to the Golden Age of Movies should not be ignored.
Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Post by Western Guy »

Moira, I apologize for not responding to the rest of your post. Got on a writing fury and missed your questions. I must confess I don't know which of his film roles Jack La Rue enjoyed the most. We really never discussed that. But I can tell you that Lloyd Nolan's favorite films were "A Treee Grows in Brooklyn" and "Abandon Ship". He also was very fond of co-players Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd, Robert Preston and Robert Taylor, saying that each was a modest man unimpressed with his own fame. In fact, Lloyd told me that Alan Ladd, even after he became a big star, was always somewhat shocked when he would be asked for an autograph (which he ALWAYS provided).

Funny in retorospect. It was not difficult for me to get in contact and then meet these great actors back in the 70s. Good luck trying to have the same good fortune with most of today's "stars".

Then again . . . for the most part . . . who would want to?

Though Al Pacino is another super-nice guy and a true gentleman. He did me a very nice favor when I was in L.A. back in the late 80s at a convention with my talent agency. And when Raft was asked after the publication of the Yablonsky book - should a movie be made - who he would like to play him, George instantly responded: "Al Pacino".

And darn, he would have been great, and not just for being able to dance the tango.
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