Ray Bolger 1.15.13 Thought of the Day

“How lonely it is going to be now on the Yellow Brick Road.” — Ray Bolger

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Ray Bolger was born on January 10th, 1904 near Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Today marks the anniversary of his death, at 83, in 1987.

Bolger, born Raymond Wallace Bulcao, was a song and dance man who won hearts on  stage, in films and on TV. He is most famous for his role as the Scarecrow in the 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of Oz.

He started out in Vaudeville as one half of “Sanford & Bolger”. The duo became the top Vaudeville dance act in the country in the 1920’s. Here’s a clip of Ray doing a soft shoe number from Washington Square

In 1926 he was discovered by show biz player and talent scout Gus Edwards. Edwards

… hired him for the Broadway show A Merry World. Numerous Broadway roles followed including the lead in the Rodgers and Hart 1936 classic On Your Toes. The strength of that performance earned him a movie contract from MGM. [findagrave.com]

Bolger played himself in 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld. He followed that with a movie a year for MGM (Rosalie in 1937 and Sweethearts in 1938). He was cast as the Tin Man for Oz, but when he realized that the character’s movements would be impaired by the “metal” costume Bolger convinced the producer to let me switch to the Scarecrow.

Image courtesy MGM

Image courtesy MGM

The Wizard of Oz was the last movie on his MGM contract (they opted not to re-sign him),  though Bolger did come back to make the 1946 The Harvey Girls (again with Judy Garland).  Bolger went over to RKO before heading back to Broadway. In 1948 he starred in Where’s Charley and won a Tony for “Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.”

On the small screen he had his own variety show (The Ray Bolger Show)  and his own sit com (Where’s Raymond) along with a slew of guest and recurring roles on top rated network shows.

Image courtesy IMDb.

Image courtesy IMDb.

In all he starred in 14 Broadway shows and 18 major motion pictures in a career spanning over six decades.

He died of bladder cancer five days after his 83rd birthday. Bolger was the last surviving main cast member of the Wizard of Oz.

Image courtesy MGM

Image courtesy MGM

If you are a Wizard of Oz fan you might like Wendy’s Wizard of Oz page (There you’ll find cast bios, photos, a full script and lots more.)

Also if  you are a Wizard of OZ collector   you might want to  check out the collectionary  at  http://thecollectionary.com/club/wizard-of-oz

Wizard of Oz


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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