Ray Bolger

Actor, Singer, Dancer
Although he had racked up numerous stage and screen credits, rubber-legged song-and-dance man Ray Bolger will forever be remembered by children of all ages as the Scarecrow who accompanies Dorothy, the Tin Man and the ... Read more »
Born: 01/10/1904 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Actor (25)

Carmen & Geoffrey 2009 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Song Performer (Actor)

That's Dancing! 1985 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Just You and Me, Kid 1979 (Movie)

Tom (Actor)

The Runner Stumbles 1978 (Movie)

Monsignor Nicholson (Actor)

The Entertainer 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)


The Partridge Family (ABC) 1970 - 1974 (TV Show)


The Bob Hope Show (02/16/70) 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)


The Daydreamer 1965 (Movie)


Babes in Toyland 1961 (Movie)

Barnaby (Actor)

Operation Entertainment 1954 - 1955 (TV Show)


The Harvey Girls 1945 (Movie)


Forever and a Day 1943 (Movie)

Sentry (Actor)

Stage Door Canteen 1942 (Movie)


The Wizard of Oz 1938 (Movie)

Scarecrow (Actor)

The Great Ziegfeld 1935 (Movie)


April in Paris (Movie)

S. Winthrop Putnam (Actor)

Captains and the Kings (TV Show)


For Heaven's Sake (Movie)


Look for the Silver Lining (Movie)

Jack Donahue (Actor)

Rosalie (Movie)

Bill Delroy (Actor)

Sunny (Movie)

Bunny Billings (Actor)

Sweethearts (Movie)

Hans the Dancer (Actor)

Three on a Date (TV Show)


Where's Charley? (Movie)

Charley Wykeham (Actor)


Although he had racked up numerous stage and screen credits, rubber-legged song-and-dance man Ray Bolger will forever be remembered by children of all ages as the Scarecrow who accompanies Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion to the Emerald City in search of "The Wizard of Oz" in that 1939 MGM classic.

A tall, slender man whose physical capacities as a dancer often mystified audiences (he was so lithe as to appear double-jointed), the Massachusetts native began his career in vaudeville. Although generations came to know him through his musical roles, Bolger first and foremost considered himself to be a comic actor, skills he first honed with the Bob Ott Musical Comedy Repertory in the early 1920s and later as part of a vaudeville act. In 1926, he was spotted by Gus Edwards who hired him as a comedian for the Broadway show "A Merry World". Other stage roles followed, most notably as the lead in the Rodgers and Hart classic "On Your Toes" (1936), introducing the now famous "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" number. Based on the strength of that performance, he was signed to a film contract by MGM.

Bolger debuted in features as himself in the Oscar-winning biopic "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936). He got a chance to display his comic abilities supporting Nelson Eddy and Eleanor Powell in "Rosalie" (1937) but was mostly wasted, except for a clog dance with Jeanette MacDonald, in "Sweethearts" (1938). When MGM originally announced plans to film "The Wizard of Oz", Bolger was assigned the role of the Tin Man. Feeling that he would be constrained in the role--the dancing would be minimal--he somehow managed to get producer Mervyn LeRoy to allow him to switch roles with Buddy Ebsen who had been tapped to play the Scarecrow. (What for Bolger was a triumph proved problematic for Ebsen who developed an allergy to the make-up and had to be replaced.) Offering an astonishing display of terpsichorean skill (when he dances, he really appears to be made of straw), Bolger etched a truly memorable character. The studio, however, chose not to renew his option.

Moving to RKO, Bolger appeared in "Four Jacks and a Jill" and "Sunny" (both 1941) before returning to Broadway in Rodgers and Hart's "By Jupiter" (1942). Exhausted from the grind of working in live theater, he withdrew early from the show (prompting sniping in the press), but the performer needed the rest before undertaking a USO tour (1943-45). After WWII, Bolger made a one-shot return to MGM where he was again partnered with Judy Garland in "The Harvey Girls" (1946) but his greatest success was to be on stage in what came to be a signature role, Charlie Wykeham, an Oxford student who dons drag and pretends to be a dowager, in "Where's Charley?" (1948-51), a musical adaptation of "Charley's Aunt". In the show, he introduced the soft-shoe number "Once in Love With Amy" with which he became closely identified. When Warner Bros. filmed the show in 1952, the studio wisely selected Bolger to recreate his stage triumph.

Bolger later found it difficult to top himself, though. Decent film roles became elusive, particularly as the movie musical's heyday was past. Despite wanting to be viewed as a comedian, Bolger and his image were rooted to song-and-dance. TV seemingly offered a shot with his own sitcom "Where's Raymond/The Ray Bolger Show" (ABC, 1953-55) but the premise did not take full advantage of his gifts and both versions failed to find an audience. For the remainder of his life, he struggled to find good parts but returns to Broadway in "All American" (1962) and "Come Summer" (1969) proved disappointing as did film work. Nightclubs provided an outlet and he became one of the more popular attractions on that circuit with an act steeped in nostalgia. His most notably acting role was in a rare dramatic turn in the NBC remake of "The Entertainer" (1976). As the father of Jack Lemmon's titular character, Bolger drew on his own history to portray an aging vaudevillian and was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for his efforts. Although he offered a strong turn as a priest in his last film role in "The Runner Stumbles" (1979), the movie itself was a jumble with a miscast Dick Van Dyke in the lead. After undergoing hip surgery, a still agile Bolger served as one of the narrators and hosts of the compilation film "That's Dancing!" (1985). Two years later, he succumbed to cancer, leaving behind only a handful of films. Yet, as long there are movies, he will forever be remembered traveling the Yellow Brick Road in search of a brain.


Anne Bolger


James Bolger


John Bolger

had appeared on numerous daytime serial like "GUiding Light", "Another World" and "One Life to Live"

Gwendolyn Rickard

met in 1924 married from July 1929 until his death died in 1997 at age 89


Dorchester High School

Dorchester , Massachusetts 1920



Narrated and co-hosted the compilation film "That's Dancing"


Underwent hip surgery


Final film, "The Runner Stumbles"


Last TV-movie "Three on a Date" (ABC)


Appeared in the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings"


Nominated in for an Emmy for his dramatic turn in the NBC TV-movie "The Entertainer"


Final stage role in "Come Summer"


Made guest appearance on "The Judy Garland Show" (CBS)


Returned to Broadway in "All American"


Portrayed the Toymaker in "Babes in Toyland"


Performed at the opening of the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas


Recreated stage role in the film version of "Where's Charley?"


Had featured role in MGM's "The Harvey Girls", starring Judy Garland


Starred in "By Jupiter"


Made one-shot appearance at RKO in "Four Jacks and a Jill"


Played his signature role of the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz"


Had stage success in "On Your Toes"


Put under contract at MGM; film acting debut as himself in "The Great Ziegfeld"


Broadway debut in "A Merry World"


Acted onstage in "A Pair of Nifties" in Cambridge, Massachusetts


Toured in vaudeville


Appeared in "One Hour From Broadway" in Lukens, Pennsylvania


Professional stage debut in Bob Ott Musical Comedy Reperory Company in Boston

Raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts

Hosted the variety series "Washington Square" (NBC)

Toured in USO shows entertaining the troops

Starred in the ABC comedy series "Where's Raymond/The Ray Bolger Show" (ABC)

Had one of his best stage roles in "Where's Charley?"; introduced signature song of "Once in Love in Amy"

Bonus Trivia


In 1926, Bolger briefly roomed with composer Harold Arlen who later wrote the music for "The Wizard of Oz" (1939).


He was reportedly once fired from an insurance agency for dancing in the hallways.


During a performance of "Life Begins at 8:40" at NYC's Winter Garden Theater in January 1935, a small fire broke out on the roof. Bolger reportedly helped to keep the crowd calm by performing an impromptu tap dance saying, "you can't walk out on me!"


Bolger originally was chosen to play the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz"; he balked at playing the role and eventually switched parts with Buddy Ebsen who was cast as the Scarecrow.


Inducted in the Theater Hall of Fame in 1980.


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