Thursday, January 11, 2007


Twenty years ago, just five days after his 83rd birthday, we lost the beloved Ray Bolger . I have great infinity with the character of the Scarecrow from the "The Wizard Of Oz". It's a great character and dear Ray played it so perfectly. The reason that I have such great infinity for the role is that is the role and the play that launched my songwriting career. Had it not been for a local production of "The Wizard Of Oz", with me being cast as "The Scarecrow" in that production, I would have never gotten into songwriting. I've certainly told this story before (on my first blog entry) God does work in mysterious way. How I got cast in the first place, I shall never know. I couldn't then and can't now dance a step except maybe the Waltz and The Cha Cha cha. And my singing voice was never that amazing. By the way, Today would have been Ray Bolger's 103rd birthday. Ray Bolger was an amazing entertainer and was so ultimately charming and sweet. A reporter asked him once if he still received royalties from the many showings of "The Wizard Of Oz" on television. He answered."No, I don't, but I'll settle for the immortality it has always awarded me. I have other infinities with this dear man His father was a house-painter,(just like mine) his mother a homemaker.(just like mine) He was inspired by the vaudeville shows he attended when he was young to become an entertainer himself. He began his career as a dancer. His limber body and ability to ad lib movement won him many starring roles on Broadway in the 1930s.
His film career began when he signed a $10,000 a week contract with Lions gate Films in 1936. His best-known film prior to The Wizard of Oz was The Great Ziegfeld (1936), in which he portrayed himself. Bolger's studio contract stipulated that he would play any part the studio chose; however, he was unhappy when he was cast as the Tin Man. The Scarecrow part had already been assigned to another lean and limber dancing studio contract player, Buddy Ebsen.In time, the roles were switched. While Bolgerwas pleased with his role as the Scarecrow, Ebsen was struck ill by the powdered aluminum make-up used to complete the Tin Man costume. (The powdered aluminum had been inhaled and coated Ebsen's lungs, leaving him near death. Ironically, he would outlive all the principal players of Oz.) Ebsen's illness paved the way for the role to be filled by Jack Haley. Ray Bolger's performance in Oz was a tour De force. He displayed the full range of his physical, comedic, and dramatic talents playing the character searching for the brain that he's always had. The Scarecrow's sympathy for Dorothy Gales plight, his cleverness and bravery in rescuing her from the Wicked Witch of the West (played by dear Margaret Hamilton) and his deep affection for her shone through, endearing the character -- and Ray -- in the public mind forever. Following Oz, he starred in several more films and had a sitcom called Where's Raymond? from 1953 - 1955 (also known as "The Ray Bolger Show"). He also made frequent guest appearances on television. In 1985 he and Liza Minnelli , the daughter of his Oz co-star Judy Garland starred in "That's Dancing".Ray Bolger died in LA of cancer just five days after his 83rd birthday, and is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, and was survived by his wife of 57 1/2 years, Gwendolyn Rickard. I went to see "Rocky Balboa" tonight. I really didn't expect much from this movie because I had seen all of the other Rocky movies. my cousin, the late James Crabe has been the director of photography for the first "Rocky" film back in 1976. Boy, was *I surprised. It was a terrific picture. The old heartstrings from the original characters still pull on your emotions and you really cheer for the old boy. I liked the part where Rocky says that life can be a vicious fighter and knock us down, but its not hard life punches us, it's how many times we get up from off the ground and punch BACK.

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