Ray Bolger

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Ray Bolger

Ray Bolger Signed Photo as Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz - 1939

Charming vintage 10×8 cardstock photo from the classic film, The Wizard of Oz, with the Scarecrow (Bolger) and Dorothy (Judy Garland) assisting the Tin Man (Jack Haley). Signed and inscribed in blue ballpoint “To Clay Wilson from The Scarecrow of Oz, Ray Bolger”. In fine condition, with a few minor creases.

RAY BOLGER (1904-1987) was an American entertainer of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of the Scarecrow and Kansas farm worker in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.

Bolger’s film career began when he signed a contract with MGM in 1936. His best-known film appearance prior to The Wizard of Oz was The Great Ziegfeld (1936), in which he portrayed himself. But he also appeared in Sweethearts, (1938) the first MGM film in Technicolor, starring Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald, and Bolger’s future Oz co-star, Frank Morgan, as well as the 1937 Eleanor Powell vehicle Rosalie, which also starred Eddy and Morgan.

Bolger’s 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. Ironically, Ebsen would outlive all the principal players of Oz. Ebsen’s illness paved the way for the Tin Man role to be filled by Jack Haley.

Bolger’s performance in Oz was a tour de force, and he displayed the full range of his physical, comedic, and dramatic talents playing the character searching for the brain that he always had. The Scarecrow’s sympathy for Dorothy Gale’s plight, his cleverness and bravery in rescuing her from the Wicked Witch of the West (played by Margaret Hamilton) and his deep affection for her shone through, endearing the character – and Bolger – in the public mind forever. Whenever queried as to whether he received any residuals from telecasts of the 1939 classic, Bolger would reply: “No, just immortality. I’ll settle for that.”

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