Ray Bolger (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

Ray Bolger started out to conquer the world with a “clean-up campaign.” He attempted to educate the farmers of Maine regarding the merits of vacuum sweepers, but his ability as a salesman was somewhat hampered by his angular awkwardness. Today, that very awkwardness is a contributing factor to his success.

Bolger was born in Boston, January 10, the bouncing son of James E. and Annie C. Bolger, and he has been bouncing on his feet ever since.

He was educated at the Oliver Holmes grade school and the Dorchester High School.

He distinguished himself on the hockey field and at track events, specialized in economics and English as well as military training. For four years he was a graduate captain of the R. O. T. C. After his school years, with his knowledge of figures, he found employment from time to time in insurance offices and banks.

Wanted to be Banker

At that time he decided to become a bank president. To gain enough capital he started to peddle vacuum sweepers in the backwards territory. However, his feet would not behave, so he abandoned his capitalistic aims and joined the Bob Ott Musical Comedy Repertoire Company, touring New England.

After this initiation he entered vaudeville on the big-time Keith-Orpheum circuit and, during slack seasons, he produced two two- reel pictures at the Red Seal studios in New York, with himself as the star. But he got a bad case of Kleig-eyes, so he went back to the stage.

In New York he appeared in “Merry World,” “Second Eden,” “Night in Paris,” “Heads Up,” “George White’s Scandals,” “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” and “Life Begins at 8:30.”

While dancing in “Life Begins at 8:30,” Bolger was given a screen test and, when the musical closed, moved to Hollywood on a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Role Written For Him

“The Great Ziegfield” was under way at the time. There was no role for Bolger in it, so, to fit his famous rubber legs, a series of scenes was written into the story for him. Upon finishing “Ziegfield,” Bolger returned to New York to star in “On Your Toes.” On the close of that show, he was again featured in musical pictures at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

His favorite sport is golf, but he gets plenty of exercise indoors at the New York Athletic Club. Ray is a member of the famous Lambs Club of New York.

Dreams His New Steps

Bolger insists that he dances in his sleep. While dreaming of dancing and creating new steps he climbs out of bed to practice the new dance for the rest of the night. On his first trip to Hollywood, neighbors of a Beverly Hills house saw weird shadows in the window and reported to the police the house was “haunted.” Instead of a ghost, police found Bolger dancing at midnight.

In addition to his expert dancing ability, Bolger plays the guitar and sings. After his strenuous dance routines he is given vigorous rub-downs with towels and brushes. He next covers his body with horse liniment after a short rest and he is ready to dance again.

Bolger’s nickname, “Rubber-legs,” gave way to “Race-horse” after his vigorous dance in the “Follies Girl” number of The Great Ziegfeld. After the scene, trainers led him around the stage until he cooled down, much like a race horse.

Bolger’s latest picture is Rosalie co-starring Nelson Eddy and Eleanor Powell.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937