Was he the only movie star who was also a member of the Mob?
Did he stupidly turn down more hit roles in classic hit films than any other actor in movie history?
Despite his many tough guy roles, is it true that he was shy offscreen, and might even have been considered a momma’s boy? That he loved perfume — on himself? (C’mon. We’re talking George Raft here.)
We’ve written a fair amount about Raft but this marks his debut in the Monday Quiz spotlight. We are indebted here to author Lewis Yablonsky’s 1974 biography, George Raft, for authoritatively clearing up these and many other questions about one of the biggest stars of the early classic Hollywood period.
So how much do you know about GR? Let’s begin our quiz, and find out. (As usual, answers tomorrow.)
1) Question: Even by Hollywood standards of the day, Raft was known as a busy lover held hostage by a woman he married before he became famous, and couldn’t legally shed. To make up for his marital misery, he took up with which of the following? a) Betty Grable; b) Carole Lombard; c) Virginia Pine; or d) Norma Shearer.
2) Question: Raft really did start out his young adult life by working for the mob. Which of these gangsters was he closest to? a) Al Capone; b) Nucky Johnson; c) Owney Madden or d) Bugsy Siegel.
3) Question: Raft was regarded as a gentle person despite his screen image, although he had a temper that would occasionally erupt in violence on the set. Which one of the following actors learned this first hand? a) Paul Muni; b) Peter Lorre; c) Sydney Greenstreet; or d) Humphrey Bogart?
4) Question: It’s true that in his younger, pre-Hollywood days Raft once worked with someone by the name of Rodolpho Guglielmo as a male “escort” in various New York City dance halls. Can you provide the latter’s marquee identity as a world famous Hollywood celebrity?
5) Question: Why on earth did Raft turn down the Sam Spade role in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon, the role that propelled Bogart into the ranks of Hollywood stardom? a) Raft was hesitant because the movie was John Huston’s first time out as director; b) He didn’t like Peter Lorre; c) He didn’t like Sydney Greenstreet; or d) Raft’s contract with Warner Brothers stipulated that he wouldn’t star in a remake.
6) Question: Why in the world did Raft turn down the role of Rick Blaine in 1942’s Casablanca, the role that made Bogart an even bigger international star? a) Raft didn’t care for Ingrid Bergman; b) He disliked Peter Lorre; c) He had a contentious relationship with director Michael Curtiz; or d) Raft didn’t feel the role was right for him.
7) Question: What was Raft’s name at birth on Sept. 26, 1895, in New York City’s tough Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood? a) Hymie Rosenberg; b) George O’Brien; c) Ace Binkstrop; or d) George Ranft?
8) Question: Who was Raft’s all-time favorite actor? a) Paul Muni; b) Peter Lorre; c) James Cagney or d) Edward G. Robinson.
9) Question: Can you tell us just how Raft discovered that costar and lover Carol Lombard was not a natural blond? (Let your imagination take over on this one.)
10) Question: Raft, who died in 1980, was one of the few Hollywood actor’s to have a movie based on his life filmed while he was still alive. Can you name the title of the biopic, and the actor who played Raft?