George Raft was a perfectly good actor but a great dancer as witness in the above clip from ‘Bolero’ (1934) where he dances with Carole Lombard. Raft began his career in New York in the so-called roaring twenties, first as the driver of prohibition kingpin gangster Owney Madden, then as a successful hoofer in the Times Square nightclubs, notably Texas Guinan’s where–by Raft’s own admission–he served double-duty as an off-the-books high-class male prostitute. By the time ‘Bolero’ was made he’d been in movies for five years, having been given his break by Guinan who insisted he be featured in her film ‘Queen Of The Nightclubs’ (1929). The saga of Raft’s rise from street kid to ballplayer to dancer to gangland associate to star actor is a fascinating one and can be read in this fine Wikipedia entry on the actor.( I was going to compress it and rewrite it but it’s lunchtime and I’m starved). As for the above clip you’ll see Raft’s multitude of dance influences which include the Cakewalk, Charleston, Shimmy with some ‘Snake Hips’ moves thrown in. Raft never considered him a first-class dancer in a league with Astaire or Gene Kelly but he had something else that I don’t think they had. In his own words: ‘”I could have been the first X-rated dancer. I was very erotic. I used to caress myself as I danced. I never felt I was a great dancer. I was more of a stylist, unique.’ He underrates himself in my opinion.More dancing Raft as the week progresses…


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