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vaudeville, movie, Broadway, and television star
Raymond Wallace Bulcao was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on January 10, 1904.
Like many other performers of his era, Ray began his career in vaudeville, as part of the team "Sanford and Bolger." He also did numerous Broadway shows and appeared (uncredited) in a few movies on his own. His real movie career began when he signed a contract with MGM in 1936; that same year he played himself in The Great Ziegfeld. His first dancing and singing role was in Sweethearts (1938), where he did a "wooden shoes" number with Jeanette MacDonald. It was this role that got him noticed by MGM producers and resulted in his being cast as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Although The Wizard of Oz was a success and made Bolger famous, his contract with MGM ended soon after its release. He then went to RKO, where he made Four Jacks and a Jill in 1942. After this, he went to Broadway, where he had great success.
In 1953, Bolger made the transition to television, starring in Where's Raymond?, which later became The Ray Bolger Show, from 1953 to 1955. After the series ended, he made frequent guest appearances on television and had some small roles in movies.
Bolger made his last major appearance in 1985, co-starring in That's Dancing! with Liza Minnelli. He died on February 15, 1987, and is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Married Gwendolyn Rickard on July 9, 1929.
The last surviving star of The Wizard of Oz.
Won two Tony Awards -- in 1948; and the 1949 Best Actor (Musical), for Where's Charley?.
Also won two Donaldson Awards.
Elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1980.
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This page was last updated on 01/15/2018.