Born on 12 January 1884 in Waco, Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan played a gun-slinger and rode bareback in silent films, took New York by storm in 1906, and earned a salary of $700,000 as a speakeasy hostess. Here are highlights from a life led at full speed until 5 November 1933. Meet TEXAS GUINAN!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Texas Guinan: Danceman Raft

TEXAS GUINAN helped build the careers of many stars. Let's learn more about George Raft, who died today on November 24th.
• • Broadway dancer turned Hollywood actor George Raft [26 September 1895 — 24 November 1980] was a film star most closely identified with his portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s.
• • Born George Ranft in Hell's Kitchen, New York City to Conrad Ranft (a German immigrant), he adopted a slick "tough guy" persona that he would later use in his films.
• • His mother, who taught dancing to theatre people, gave him lessons. His smooth tango and dance-floor style led to performances at some of Times Square's most fashionable nightspots. He became part of the stage act of "Texas Guinan and Her Gang."
• • In 1929 Raft moved to Hollywood and took small roles. His success came in "Scarface" [1932], the role that was originally offered to Jack LaRue, an actor who played opposite Mae West in her 1928 Broadway hit "Diamond Lil". George Raft's convincing portrayal of the gangster led to speculation that he himself was a mobster — — not far from the truth.
• • When the studio was casting Raft's next feature "Night after Night," the role of Maudie Triplett, a former girlfriend, was to go to a very well known actress and personality: Texas Guinan. Raft suggested Mae West for this cameo, and Mae's three little scenes set the so-so film on fire.
• • "Fables from the Fifties" • •
• • There are a lot of things around Broadway these nights to remind you of Texas Guinan. The aforementioned George Raft is one, of course, he said he was a kid who worked for her in one of her gaudy boites and wore handmade suits and did the Charleston. 
• • And then there is another one, Walter O'Keefe, who is back after a long absence. Walter, who is doubling between La Martinique and "Topnotchers,'' got his first New York job through Texas Guinan, and she always liked to tell the story of how he got that first job and I imagine he does, too.
• • Source: Item on page 4 in The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania): published on Wednesday, 10 June 1942
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• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Texas Guinan is in some scenes, too.
Watch a scene on YouTube.

• • Website for all things Mae West 

• • Exciting Texas Guinan news is on the horizon. More anon.
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• • Photo: Texas Guinan
• • George Raft • •

Texas Guinan.

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