Friday, January 15, 2010
AS SEEN IN:
"Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadows"
AS PLAYED BY:
Raymond Wallace "Ray" Bolger (January 10, 1904 – January 15, 1987) was an American entertainer of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of the Scarecrow and Kansas farmworker Hunk in the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz".
Bolger's MGM studio contract stipulated that he would play any part the studio chose; however, he was unhappy when he was cast as the Tin Man. The Scarecrow part had already been assigned to another lean and limber dancing studio contract player, Buddy Ebsen.
In time, the roles were switched. While Bolger was pleased with his role as the Scarecrow, Ebsen was struck ill by the powdered aluminum make-up used to complete the Tin Man costume. The powdered aluminum badly coated Ebsen's lungs, leaving him near death. Ebsen's illness paved the way for the Tin Man role to be filled by Jack Haley. Whenever asked as to whether he received any residuals from telecasts of the 1939 classic, Bolger would reply: "No, just immortality. I'll settle for that."
He was good friends with actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, until her death, and gave a eulogy at her memorial service.
Bolger died of bladder cancer on January 15, 1987 in Los Angeles, California, five days after his 83rd birthday. He was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City in the Mausoleum, Crypt F2, Block 35. He was survived by his wife of over 57 years, Gwendolyn Rickard. They had no children.
At the time of his death, he was the last surviving main cast member of The Wizard of Oz.