Despite years of searching, I’ve only found one sound film where we get to see Ray Bourbon performing. In his silent films and in Gold Diggers of 1937, we only see Ray in a small, non-speaking bit roles.
Several years ago, someone saw my website about Ray and, seeing I was looking for films where Ray appeared, sent me a custom dvd dub of “Hip Zip Hooray“, an RKO comedy short where Ray had a featured role. The film wasn’t listed on the Internet Movie Database and I had never run into references to it elsewhere connected with Ray’s name.
Shorts from the studios aren’t very well documented, except for some more well-known series with fan followings, such as the Hal Roach Laurel and Hardy pictures or the “Our Gang” series. Only a few reference works have come out in recent years documenting other types of shorts released by the studios.
“Hip Zip Hooray” was part of RKO’s “Headliners” series and was released March 31, 1933. I got the release date, oddly enough from records that were part of a 1936 Congressional hearing – the hearings got the studios to submit the royalties they paid for use of sound systems over the past few years and “Hip Zip Hooray” shows up listed among the hundreds of films released by the studios during that period. (United States. Congress. House. Committee on Patents, Appendixes to Hearings Before the Committee on Patents, House of Representatives, Seventy-Fourth Congress on H.R. 4523, A Bill Providing for the Recording of Patent Pooling Agreements and Contracts with the Commissioner of Patents, Part 2, page 2311.)
UCLA’s Special Collections Library has a very large collection of records from RKO Radio Pictures (PASC.0003), containing material on over 3,000 produced and unproduced films from the studio. “Hip Zip Hooray” is production #A648 (and also known as Headliner #4) and, if you want to go to UCLA and take a look, the collection includes the original production and script files for the short.
If someone had the patience and time to go through records in the RKO Radio Pictures collection at UCLA, we might find some other appearances in shorts at the studio by Ray.
A page at the Turner Classic Movies website looks at the many shorts made by RKO and describes it this way:
Hip, Zip, Hooray (Ray McCarey) / March 31, 1933 [Harry Gribbon & Tom Kennedy] – Mar 31, 1933 Lingerie shop owners loose everything down to “scantily clad” when a sheriff’s prisoner robs them. With Nat Carr, Dorothy Granger & Charles Williams.
Now, here’s your chance to see Ray at work. This recording was originally made on a VHS tape, recorded off-the-air from a British tv station in the 1980s. It’s not popped up anywhere else, so I’ve uploaded it to YouTube, since it’s a significant little piece of gay history.
I found a handful of ads at newspapers.com mentioning the short on theater bills, the earliest from May 1933 and the last from January 1934. Because of the risqué content of the short, I doubt it was reissued after the Production Code started being enforced in the summer of 1934.
Below are original ads mentioning “Hip Zip Hooray”. The short was shown supporting the features The California Trail (with Buck Jones), Lucky Devils (with William Boyd), Melody Cruise with Charles Ruggles and Phil Harris), Gold Diggers of 1933, and Unknown Valley (with Buck Jones).
In order, the sources are:
- The Cumberland (Maryland) Evening Times, May 11, 1933, page 7.
- The West Schuylkill Herald (Tower City, Pennsylvania), June 2, 1933, page 4.
- The San Bernardino County Sun, July 2, 1933, page 4.
- The Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah) Tribune, November 30, 1933, page 8.
- The Llano (Texas) News, January 25, 1934, page 4.
You can see a list of the films where Ray is known to appear elsewhere on the site. If you have spotted Ray’s name in the credits of another short you might have seen somewhere, let me know.