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Born in Boston to parents of modest means, Raymond Wallace Bolger admitted that he was the outstanding wallflower of his native Dorcester High School. At the senior prom, he danced the waltz no matter what the band played. After high school, Ray haunted local ray bolgerdancing schools and picked up a few routines from an old vaudevillian turned night watchman. He was later fired from a local bank when he took to clacking and tapping through the bank's corridors on errands.

After two years of intense practice, Ray landed his first big job, an appearance in the 1926 production of "Passing Show." In 1929, he was married to Gwen Rickard, an aspiring songwriter. Mrs. Bolger recognized that Ray was a potential phenom and immersed herself into guiding his career. Drama critic John Anderson had previously written "A very large pair of pants came onto the stage and did some of the most fantastic gyrations I've ever seen."

On Easter Monday, April 2nd Ray Bolger began his four-week engagement in the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria.

Tips on Tables - By Robert W. Dana - April 5, 1956

Ray Bolger at the Empire Room

As a dancer, Ray Bolger need apologize to nobody. As a singer, he gets by. As a pantomimist, he belongs in the top bracket. And as a humorist with a bubbling good nature that reflects itself in his infectious smile, logohe ties his talents together for a solid show-stopping hour in the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria.

Having met Philippe of the Waldorf, he feels he should pronounce it the Ompeer Room, but Yogi Berra advises it is best known as the Umpire Room. This good. natured nonsense is enough of an introduction to let him sing an ode to spring in New York, with the Chrysler and Empire State buildings in joyful agreement.

There are a great many facets to the Bolger personality. So often there emerges the portrait of the scarecrow he so winningly interpreted in "The Wizard of Oz," and with each of his dances he seems to include a facial characteristic to match its mood. There is a calm satisfaction as he brings back the old soft shoe from "Three to Make Ready," whereas he's cocky and all smiles as he dances to "Swanee River."

Cavalcade Has Comedy.

Cavalcades of the dance are not new to New York audiences. Ballroom teams have stayed in business on the strength of their popularity. Mr. Bolger, gives his flyercavalcade with much comedy as a background for his dance skill. Charleston, black bottom and the conga recall many light hours. He calls the rumba the Murray dance, "not Mae but Arthur," and gives a wonderful pantomime of typical Americans doing the dance.

Another classic pantomime is his picturization of Tony Galento fighting Joe Louis. With this potent audience warmer over, he re-creates the memorable Sad Sack character he used to entertain troops overseas. The audience claps as the orchestra plays "Stars and Stripes Forever," and Bolger, his rifle threatening, declares an open season on clappers who don't stop when he shouts "halt!"

He comes to the inevitable "Once in Love With Amy" the song he made famous in "Where's Charley?" that has become his theme. He sings it, dances to it, then he asks the audience to sing it very softly as he dances, tossing them the lyrics a line at a time ahead.

Dances With Customer.

Last in the program come the first request is for the flyer2scarecrow number. When the Easter parade is recalled, he draws a pretty girl from a ringside table to be his partner and turns a dance into a jolly, flirtatious affair that concludes with a kiss on the girl's cheek. This is one autograph she won't forget for a while.

Ray introduces his musical director and pianist, Edward Scott, and acknowledges the fine work of Nat Brandywynne's orchestra. He concludes a very winning performance by stating that,"like a delicatessen store. I hate to let the ham go."

And go he must, until another night. He appears at 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, at 9:30 p.m., and 12:15 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

 

THE REVIEWS
Andrews Sisters - Latin Quarter 1957
Desi Arnaz - w/Diosa Costello 1948
Count Basie - Lincoln 1943
Tony Bennett - Copacabana 1958
Milton Berle - Latin Quarter 1948
Joey Bishop - w/Andy Williams 1959
Ray Bolger - Wizard of Oz Scarecrow, Empire Room 1956
Cab Calloway - Greenwich Inn 1949
Diahann Carroll - Persian Room 1961
Betty Clooney - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Nat King Cole - Copacabana 1958
Perry Como - Versailles 1944
Copacabana - famous night club restaurant is reviewed 1953
Crosby Brothers - Latin Quarter 1961
Xavier Cugat - Waldorf Astoria 1951
Vic Damone - Riviera 1953
Billy Daniels - Copacabana 1952
Sammy Davis Jr. - Copacabana 1959
Phyllis Diller - w/Bobby Short 1958
Nancy Donovan - Copacabana 1952
Jimmy Durante - Copacabana 1951
Billy Eckstine - Copacabana 1951
Duke Ellington - Basin St. East 1961
Eddie Fisher - Empire Room 1959
Judy Garland -Town & Country 1958
Jackie Gleason - La Vie en Rose 1953
Benny Goodman - Empire Room 1956
Dolores Gray - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Buddy Hackett - Copacabana 1956
Connie Haines - Terrace Room 1951
Dick Haymes - Versailles 1956
Horace Heidt - 30th Anniversary 1954
Florence Henderson w/Bill Hayes 1958
Hildegarde - Pierre 1953
Celeste Holm - Plaza 1958
Eddy Howard - Roosevelt 1955
Burl Ives w/Wally Cox - Persian Room
Lisa Kirk - Persion Room 1958
Frankie Laine - Latin Quarter 1955
Julius La Rosa - Romanian 1958
Peggy Lee - Copacabana 1958
Jerry Lewis - Town & Country 1957
Joe E. Lewis - Copacabana 1945
Ted Lewis - Latin Quarter 1953
Liberace - Persian Room 1947
Guy Lombardo - Roosevelt 1957
Vincent Lopez - Grill Room 1954
Tony Martin - Riviera 1953
Martin and Lewis - Copacabana 1950
Ray McKinley - Glenn Miller Band 1957
Mills Brothers - Latin Quarter 1956
Vaughn Monroe - Astor 1955
Constance Moore - St. Regis 1958
Johnnie Ray - Copacabana 1953
Della Reese - Copacabana 1961
Sugar Ray Robinson - French Casino
Dorothy Shay - St. Regis 1961
Frank Sinatra - Wedgewood 1943
Danny Thomas - Copacabana 1949
Sophie Tucker - Latin Quarter 1950
Mae West - Latin Quarter 1956
Julie Wilson - Persian Room 1954
EDITORIALS
Dean Martin - thoughts on Mr. Sauve
Peter Lawford - retrospective
Rise & Fall of the big bands
INTERVIEWS
K Baggelaar- Copacabana author
Don Dellair - cabaret performer
Denny Farrell - big band disc jockey
Hal Turner - Performer/Conductor
B Zickafoose - played in WWII Europe
ASSORTED
Bernie Bierman bio
Sammy Kaye - Roosevelt 1957
Dinah Shore - press release and autograph from the 50's
A Letter about a WWII song
Harbers & Dale - Dance Team
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