A few months ago, I published a blog post telling the story of Ray's friendship with Egyptian movie star Samia Gamal. Gamal was declared the “The National Dancer of Egypt” by King Farouk in 1949, which led to a nightclub tour by her in the US the following year, setting off interest in "belly dancing" in … Continue reading New Candid Film Footage of Ray’s Friend, Egyptian Star Samia Gamal
One of the more unusual credits hawked by Ray that always seemed odd - and implausible - to me was included in photographer and filmmaker Avery Willard’s 1971 book, Female Impersonation. According to Willard, Ray, billed as “Ramon Icarez”, performed a fire dance at the opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum. The four-age bio in … Continue reading Did Ray Perform a Fire Dance at the Opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum?
One of the odd little things that pops up in lore about Ray is that Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum wrote songs and perhaps routines for him. Turns out that little legend is true. Mitchum discussed his work for Ray and other “blue” nightclubs acts on page 94 of “Man With the Immortal Face - Bob Mitchum” … Continue reading Robert Mitchum Wrote for Ray Bourbon
This year, 2019, is the 70th anniversary of Ray Bourbon’s appearance at Carnegie Hall. We’re still not sure about several aspects of this show. In the 1950’s, Ray released an lp record, Don’t Call Me Madam, that included most of the routines performed during the revue and quoting some people who saw the show. I … Continue reading 70th Anniversary of Ray’s Carnegie Hall Revue, “Don’t Call Me Madam”
Research on Ray has been an ongoing process over the past twenty-five years, sometimes with fits and starts and often with long periods where nothing turns up. Here’s an overview of what I’m currently researching about Ray and leads I’m following this summer. If you have any ideas on places to look or resources to … Continue reading Research on Ray, Summer 2019
Ray's incomplete autobiography, written while he was in prison, along with his letters, are really the only documents we have were Ray tells his own story. Remarkably, as outlandish as many of the stories are, doing a little digging can usually confirm that what Ray said was true or had some basis in fact. I … Continue reading Ray Bourbon and a Member of the Chinese Royal Family?
Prank phone calls have been a staple of comedy for many years, ever since little boys started calling their local store and asking, "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?". Steve Allen is famous for his prank calls on his tv show (listen to some of them here and here). Remember Allen and Johnny … Continue reading Ray Bourbon, Bill Barclay, and Hollywood Phone Pranks
One of the more outlandish and remarkable stories about Ray Bourbon is that he rode with Pancho Villa. In drag. But did he? After Ray was put in jail for conspiracy to commit murder, his defense lawyer, William W. Bell, as taken aback by the eccentric old man he had signed on to defend. Ray … Continue reading Did Ray Bourbon Ride With Pancho Villa … In Drag?
In the mid-1990s, on a hunch, I sent a public records request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if the agency might have a file on Ray Bourbon. With Ray's many travels, his high profile as a performer, and notoriety for his arrests for dressing in drag, I wondered if the FBI might … Continue reading The Strange Case of Ray Bourbon, the FBI, and the Russian Defectors
One of the most curious questions about Ray Bourbon I've been trying to sort out for several years is how he became friends with Bob Hope. There are several second-hand reports that Ray knew Hope and that Hope attended shows at Ray's nightclub in Los Angeles. Ray's lawyer, in an interview about a decade after … Continue reading Ray Bourbon and Bob Hope