Table of Contents

Born as George Ranft in New York City (USA) on 26 September 1895. American film actor and dancer identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. A stylish leading man in dozens of movies, Raft is remembered for his gangster roles in Quick Millions (1931) with Spencer Tracy, Scarface (1932) with Paul Muni, Each Dawn I Die (1939) with James Cagney, Invisible Stripes (1939) with Humphrey Bogart, and Billy Wilder’s comedy Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon; and as a dancer in Bolero (1934) with Carole Lombard and a truck driver in They Drive by Night (1940) with Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino and Bogart.

During the 1940s Raft initially found success as a freelance actor, appearing in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and Johnny Angel (1945). Raft went to England to make I’ll Get You for This, which was filmed in 1950 but not released for another year. In the summer of 1951, Raft took the title role in the radio adventure series Rocky Jordan, playing “the owner of a cabaret in Cairo whose life is steeped in intrigue.” However, it only lasted a few months.

He starred in a syndicated television series titled I’m the Law (1953) that ran for one season. The Man from Cairo (1953), shot in Europe and Africa, was Raft’s last film with top billing. He resumed his dancing career, including an exhibition in Las Vegas. In 1967 he did an episode of the Batman TV series, “Black Widow Strikes Again”. In 1971 he appeared twice on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In comedy show, and in one episode of the sitcom The Chicago Teddy Bears, which was his last TV acting role.

Raft’s final film appearances were in Hammersmith Is Out (1972), Sextette (1978), in which he reunited with Mae West, and The Man with Bogart’s Face (1980), a nod to 1940s detective films. He also co-hosted an episode of The Mike Douglas Show in 1980.

Raft died from emphysema at the age of 79 in Los Angeles on 24 November 1980. Raft left behind no will, and his estate consisted of only a $10,000 insurance policy and some furniture. In the last years of his life, he had lived on approximately $800 a month, a combination of social security and his pension.

George Raft was given a passing nod, along with Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, in There Goes A Tenner.