Back to :- Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills - Celebrity Graves.
The Final Resting Place of George Raft.
1895 - 1980
Located in the Court of Remembrance, Sanctuary of Light.
Raft was born George Ranft in Hell's Kitchen, New York City to Eva Glockner, a German immigrant, and Conrad Ranft, who was from Massachussetts. Raft quickly adopted the "tough guy" persona that he would later use in his films.
Initially interested in dancing, as a young man he showed great aptitude, and this, combined with his elegant fashion sense, allowed him to work as a dancer in some of New York City's most fashionable nightclubs. He became part of the stage act of Texas Guinan and his success led him to Broadway where he again worked as a dancer.
In 1929 Raft moved to Hollywood and took small roles. His success came in Scarface (1932), and Raft's convincing portrayal led to speculation that Raft himself was a gangster. He was a close friend of
Bugsy Siegel and Raft encouraged the publicity that stimulated his early career, and continued to work steadily. He was also a friend of Owney Madden, who he had grown up with in Hell's Kitchen. Raft was considered one of Hollywood's most dapper and stylish dressers and he achieved a level of celebrity not entirely commensurate with the quality or popularity of his films.
He was definitely one of the three most popular gangster actors of the 1930s, along with James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. Raft and Cagney worked together in Each Dawn I Die (1939) as fellow convicts in prison. His 1932 film Night After Night launched the movie career of Mae West. He appeared the following year in Raoul Walsh's turn of the century period piece The Bowery as Steve Brodie, the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive, with Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Fay Wray, and Pert
Kelton. Some of his other popular films include If I Had A Million (1932), Bolero
(1934), The Glass Key (1935), Souls At Sea (1937) with Gary Cooper, two with Humphrey Bogart: Invisible Stripes (1939) and They Drive by Night (1940), each with Bogart in supporting roles, and Manpower (1941) with Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich.
His career went into a period of decline over the next decade, and Raft achieved a place in Hollywood folklore as the actor who turned down some of the best roles in screen history, most notably High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, both roles made Humphrey Bogart a major force in Hollywood in 1941. He was also reported to have turned down Bogart's role in Casablanca (1942).
Approached by director Billy Wilder, he refused the lead role in Double Indemnity (1944), which led to the casting of Fred MacMurray in a Hollywood classic that would have undoubtedly revived Raft's career. His lack of judgment combined with the public's growing distaste for his apparent gangster lifestyle effectively ended his career as a leading man. He satirized his gangster image with a well-received performance in Some Like it Hot (1959), but this did not lead to a comeback, and he spent the remainder of the decade making films in Europe. His final film appearances were Sextette (1978) with Mae West and The Man with Bogart's Face (1980).
Raft died from leukaemia, aged 80, in Los Angeles, California and was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
George Raft has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to Motion Pictures and for Television.