George Raft (born George Ranft; September 26, 1901 – November 24, 1980) was an American film actor and dancer identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s.
George Raft was born and grew up in a poor family in Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the roughest, meanest areas of New York City. He was born George Ranft, and was the son of Eva (Glockner) and Conrad Ranft, a department store deliveryman. His parents were both of German descent.
Mini Bio (1) George Raft was born and grew up in a poor family in Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the roughest, meanest areas of New York City. He was born George Ranft, and was the son of Eva (Glockner) and Conrad Ranft, a department store deliveryman. His parents were both of German descent.
- George Ranft
- September 26, 1901 in New York, New York, USA
- Early Life
- Early Film Career
- Gangster Icon
- Career Decline
- Links to Criminal Figures
Born 'George Ranft' in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, the son of Eva (Glockner) and Conrad Ranft. His father was born in Massachusetts to German immigrant parents, and his mother was a German immigrant. the son of Eva (née Glockner), a German immigrant, and Conrad Ranft, who was born in Massachusetts to German immigrant parents. Although Raft's birth year in most obituaries has been reported as 1895, which the actor had stated was correct when he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, 7 months prior to his death. the 1900 Census for New York City lists his elder sister, Katie, as his parents' only child, with two children born and only one living. On the 1910 Census, he is listed as being eight years old, and his birth record can be found in the New York City birth index as being 1901. A boyhood friend of gangster Owney Madden(and later a "wheel man" for the mob), Raft admitted narrowly avoided a life of crime. Raft spoke German fluently, having learned the language from his parents.
As a young man Raft earned work as a dancer in New York City nightclubs. Raft became part of the stage act of flamboyant speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan, and his success led him to Broadway where he again worked as a dancer. Raft had been taught how to dance by his mother and had danced at outdoor amusement parks and carnivals with his parents.Following his baseball career, he began working as a taxi dancer in the poorer sections of New York. At first he struggled financially, but then he won a Charleston competition and was launched professionally. He started doing exhibition dances in the afternoon at Healy's, Murray's, Rectors and Churchills in New York. He then started working in New York City nightclubs, often in the same venues as Rudolph Valentino before Valentino became a movie actor. He had a notable collaboration with Elsie Pilcer. A May 1924 review in Varietycalled him "gifted". "I could have been the first X-rated dancer," he said later. "I was very erotic. I used to care...
George's screen debut was in Queen of the Night Clubs (1929), starring Guinan, who insisted Raft have a small role. The film is lost now. It has been reported that Raft's scenes were cut. but Varietydid a review which said "nite club scene introduces George Raft, the hot' stepper, as the m. c.and band leader, being brought down for one of his rip-snorting hoofing specialties." Raft also appeared in stage shows supporting the film. One reviewer called him "a clever dancer". Raft followed this with small roles in Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) and Side Street (1929), dancing with some chorus girls. He was spotted by director Rowland Brown, who used him to good effect, including a solo dance sequence in a substantial supporting gangster role as Spencer Tracy's character's sidekick in Quick Millions(1931). This was followed by Goldie (1931), Hush Money (1931) and the Eddie Cantor musical Palmy Days(1931). In Taxi! (1932), starring James Cagney and Loretta Young, Raft has a colorful unb...
In 1929, Raft relocated to Hollywood and took small roles. His big break came later that same year as the nickel-flipping second lead alongside Paul Muni's raging killer in Scarface (1932), and Raft's convincing portrayal led to speculation that Raft was a gangster. Due to his lifelong friendship with Owney Madden, Raft was a friend or acquaintance of several other crime figures, including Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Raft and boxer-turned actor/comedian "Slapsie" Maxie Rosenbloom were lifelong friends as well - in fact, Raft was Maxie's mentor from childhood. When Gary Cooper's romantic escapades put him on one gangster's hit list, Raft reportedly interceded and persuaded the mobster to spare Cooper. During his years of major stardom, Raft was nearly always accompanied around town by his associate and best friend Mack Gray, a friend since his boxing days in New York. Orson Welles explained to Peter Bogdanovich in their interview book 'This is Orson Welles' that, as Raft's career...
The years 1940 and 1941 proved to be Raft's career peak. He went into a gradual professional decline over the next decade, in part due to allegedly turning down some of the most famous roles in movie history. Raoul Walsh's High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon transformed Humphrey Bogart from supporting player to a major force in Hollywood in 1941. Raft was also reported to have turned down Bogart's role in Casablanca(1942), although according to some Warner Bros. memos, this story is apocryphal. Following the release of the espionage thriller Background to Danger (1943), a film intended to capitalize on the success of Casablanca, Raft demanded termination of his Warner Brothers contract. Jack Warner was prepared to pay Raft a $10,000 settlement, but the actor either misunderstood or was so eager to be free of the studio that it was he who gave Warner a check in that amount. Raft is widely believed to have been functionally illiterate, which could account for the confusion. Raft's care...
When James Cagney became president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1942 for a two-year term, he took a role in the guild's fight against the Mafia, which had taken an active interest in the movie industry. Cagney's wife, Billie, once received a phone call telling her that Cagney was dead.Cagney alleged that, having failed to scare him and the guild off, they sent a hit man to kill him by dropping a heavy light onto his head. On hearing about the rumor of the hit, George Raft made a call, and the hit was supposedly cancelled. Raft was interviewed by FBI agents in 1938 and 1953. The 1938 interview was about his knowledge of Louis Buchalter and Jacob Shapiro. Raft was investigated for tax evasion in 1942. In 1944 Raft's name was mentioned in connection with an illegal dice game. In 1944 he gave evidence when Bugsy Siegelwas on trial for bookmaking. In 1946 Raft was sued by an attorney for assault. Raft was present with Bugsy Siegel in 1946 when the latter was arrested for bookmaking. Raf...
Raft died from leukemia at the age of 85 in Los Angeles, California, on November 24, 1980. Two days earlier, Mae West had died and their bodies were at one point alongside each other in the hallway of the same mortuary at the same time. Raft was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Actor. He had an acting career that spanned from the 1920s to 1980, and gained a reputation as one of Hollywood's best dressed actors. Before acting, he started off as a prizefighting boxer, then moved on to dancing both on Broadway Theatre and in Prohibition-era nightclubs. In motion picture he immediately gained...
- 26 Sep 1895, Hell's Kitchen, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
- George Ranft
- 24 Nov 1980 (aged 85), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
- 849 · View Source
George Raft was an American actor and dancer who was best known for his portrayal of gangsters in the crime-drama films of the 1930s and the 1940s. Born and raised in New York, George quit school at the age of 12 and began working as an electrician’s apprentice to make money.
George Raft didn’t want to give the name. Interviewed in 1980, his final television appearance, the then 85-year-old actor, dressed stylishly in a charcoal peak-lapel suit over a black polo neck, was asked about his habit of giving money to those struggling to break into his fickle industry. The interviewer pushes him and he declines.
- Josh Sims
George Raft Whether George Raft or Frank Sinatra was more often linked with the Mafia is a tough call. A small-time hood turned successful movie gangster, Raft's first association with a big-time hoodlum was with the charismatic Bugsy Siegel.
Jul 02, 2015 · In the book, Raft plays the role he played in real life when he first arrived in Los Angeles– the New York hoodlum who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen (his real name was George Ranft) with his pals Owney Madden and Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, notorious gangsters who were his lifelong friends.
George Raft's highest grossing movies have received a lot of accolades over the years, earning millions upon millions around the world. The order of these top George Raft movies is decided by how many votes they receive, so only highly rated George Raft movies will be at the top of the list.