Rags Ragland

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Rags Ragland
BornJohn Lee Morgan Beauregard Ragland
(1905-08-23)August 23, 1905
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedAugust 20, 1946(1946-08-20) (aged 40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1935–1946
Spouse(s)? (?–1926) (divorced) 1 son
 
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Rags Ragland
BornJohn Lee Morgan Beauregard Ragland
(1905-08-23)August 23, 1905
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedAugust 20, 1946(1946-08-20) (aged 40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1935–1946
Spouse(s)? (?–1926) (divorced) 1 son

John Lee Morgan Beauregard "Rags" Ragland (b. August 23, 1905, Louisville, Kentucky; d. August 20, 1946, Los Angeles, California) was an American comedian and character actor.[1] Ragland first made his reputation in burlesque, where he was one of the house comics for the famed Minsky burlesque shows. One of the Minsky striptease stars, Georgia Sothern, remembered him fondly in her 1971 memoir, saying she considered Ragland a close friend and the funniest comedian the Minskys had ever produced.

After burlesque in its classic style died, Ragland made his way to films, best known for playing good-natured oafs with a knack for fracturing the English language, in various films. He was strictly an MGM player, beginning with 1942's Panama Hattie, in which he repeated a role he played on Broadway, with vivacious Ann Sothern taking to film the lead role played by Ethel Merman. Ragland acted in about two dozen MGM light comedies and musicals, cast with such names as Abbott and Costello, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Gene Kelly among others.

Prior to his acting career, Ragland was a truck driver and a boxer before acting on Broadway as well as in burlesque. His final film, The Hoodlum Saint (1946), starred William Powell, Esther Williams and Angela Lansbury.

Ragland was set to renew his nightclub act with Phil Silvers at the Copacabana, when he began experiencing pain in his abdomen after returning from an alcoholic bender with Orson Welles in Mexico. He was hospitalized. Frank Sinatra called in a specialist; however, the doctors determined that Ragland's liver and kidneys were destroyed from years of alcohol abuse. He would not leave the hospital alive. After falling into a coma, Ragland died seven days later of kidney failure (uremia), three days before his 41st birthday. Silvers and Sinatra were by Ragland's hospital bedside. Many Hollywood celebrities attended Ragland's funeral, including Sinatra, who sang at the service. Silvers, his vaudeville partner and longtime friend (Ragland was his personal favorite comedian), eulogized "Rags."

In a gesture of friendship and respect, Sinatra walked off the set of his movie It Happened In Brooklyn, flew to New York, and unexpectedly showed up for Silvers' nightclub act debut (he had signed a contract and the "show must go on".) Sinatra and Silvers had done the same routines during their USO tour. The show brought down the house. It ended with Silvers saying in tears, "May I take a bow for Rags." The audience was silent, crying in tribute to Ragland.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rags Ragland". Imdb. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 

External links[edit]