Raft, George
(1895-1980)
   Actor George Raft was born George Ranft in New York City. He changed his name in 1917. Raft’s stage career began as a professional dancer and actor, but in 1929 he went to Hollywood and appeared in his first film, Queen of Night Clubs. Other early films included If I Had a Million (1932) and Night after Night (1932) with Mae West. However, Raft’s big breakthrough came with the lead in Scarface (1932), which established him, alongside Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, as one of the leading movie gangster characters. Among his other successes were The Glass Key (1935), Souls at Sea (1937), Invisible Stripes (with Bogart in 1939), They Drive by Night (also with Bogart in 1940), and Each Dawn I Die (with Cagney in 1939). After Manpower (1941), Backgound to Danger (1943), and Follow the Boys (1944), Raft’s career declined. The 1950s television series I Am the Law, in which he starred, was a flop, and Raft faced financial and tax problems. He was also denied entry into Great Britain because of his underworld connections. Raft appeared in Some Like It Hot (1959), the original film version of Ocean’s 11 (1960) and Casino Royale (1967). His last film appearance, also with West, was in Sextette (1978).
   See also Cinema.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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