Do you have trouble, as we do, picturing George Raft (right above) as a bigtime screen lover man?
Dancer? Ok. Gangster? But of course. Lothario? We dunno.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today with a slightly different slant on Raft, a major Hollywood star at Warner Brothers in the Thirties and Forties whose implicit belief in his own press releases eventually resulted in a an over-inflated ego and a truncated movie career.
The idea of Raft as lover came to us courtesy of one of our most alert readers. In response to our Was George Raft A Gangster? blog (Dec. 13), we received an informative response from our pal, Vincent.
The idea of our blog was to highlight Raft’s often over-looked dancing skills rather than his many gangster movie roles. None other than self-described “song-and-dance-man” James Cagney rated George’s terpsichorean talents right up their with the those of Fred Astaire.
Here’s what Vincent wrote:
You can see Raft dance in the 1932 Cagney film “Taxi!” George and Carole Lombard (one of many actresses he was intimate with; Lombard reportedly told close friends that Raft was, in the bedroom sense, the best lover she ever had) made two dance films together: “Bolero” (a big hit for Paramount in early 1934, including a scene where Carole dances in lingerie and stockings!) and the less successful “Rumba” a year later.
Raft was slated to co-star with Lombard in 1936, but he walked off the set after learning Ted Tetzlaff would be the cameraman, and Fred MacMurray replaced him in the film that became “The Princess Comes Across.” More on that can be found at http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/166158.html.
It’s worth mentioning that Vincent also responded to our earlier bog on Howard Hughes (Howard Hughes — The World’s Greatest Womanizer) with the following missive:
Not many are aware of it, but apparently one of Hughes’ bedroom conquests was Carole Lombard, around 1929; in fact, it’s believed she lost her virginity to him. In “Screwball,” Lombard biographer Larry Swindell wrote as such, but had to dance around it a bit, describing Hughes but not mentioning him by name. (“Screwball” was issued in the fall of 1975, about half a year before Hughes’ passing, and I’m guessing the publisher, remembering the Clifford Irving hoax of a few years earlier, didn’t want to take any chances.)
Lombard finally came to her senses, ditched Hughes, Raft and whomever else and married Clark Gable in 1939. The union was a happy one and lasted until her death in a plane crash in 1942.
Thanks, Vincent, for both Lombard contributions.
Back to George. It seems that Raft was plagued throughout his career with making rash, boneheaded decisions about role choices, and coworkers. Remember, it was Raft who was first offered but turned down the Bogie played role in Casablanca. (Not to mention The Maltese Falcon.)
Here’s another shot of the “lovers.” Wow, what a classic studio still. Raft doing his chiropractor routine.