Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mae West: Tough Guy George

MAE WEST's autobiography reveals very little about her longtime friend George Raft. His biographer Lewis Yablonsky also does not reveal much about their close relationship. Clearly, they had similar ideas about privacy though there was more to the story.
• • George Raft, who began his career as a taxi dancer, was born in a tough neighborhood of New York City, long known as Hell's Kitchen, in the month of September — — on 26 September 1895. He was the oldest of nine boys by Conrad Ranft (a German immigrant) and Eva Glockner, who soon relocated their family further uptown to Washington Heights.
• • According to Turner Classic Film's cinema historian Lorraine LoBianco: Mae West appeared with Raft in her first film "Night After Night" (1932), which was his first starring film. "Working with George Raft was a real inducement, if you know what I mean. There was a thing between me and him after Night After Night. We stayed friends for life. We had a kind of bond. George Raft gave up being a gangster in real life for being a movie gangster. Good trade. I thought he'd be a big star. Well, he didn't make that, but he had a swell career. I think it was because he didn't have enough drive. He settled for what came easy, and was easily satisfied, where his career was concerned. There were people who called him a lowlife, and they said he wasn't good for me personally or professionally. What did they know? I had my intuition, and he had a good heart — — and more."
• • Lorraine LoBianco noted: Raft, for his part, revealed in 1978 that he spoke to Mae every day on the phone, something he'd done for years. She was his favorite co-star and Raft appeared in her final film, "Sextette" (1978). The life-long friends would pass away within two days of each other in 1980.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • with Raft in 1932 • •
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