Best remembered for his role as the Scarecrow in the 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz, Ray Bolger led a rich and extraordinary career in the decade before and more than four decades after the creation of the film. Ray Bolger: More Than a Scarecrow is the first biography of this classic American entertainer, covering the luminous and forgotten career of the eccentric dancer outside of his burlap mask.
The product of a fragmented, working-class Boston Irish family, Bolger learned tap and eccentric dance steps as solace for a difficult life before running away to repertory theater and Vaudeville. From there, he would go on to become a Broadway star, a contract player at Hollywood's major studios, one of the first performers to tour the South Pacific for the USO, a Tony Award winner, an early sitcom star, and the opening headliner of the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas.
Using unprecedented access to Bolger's papers and many never-before-published photographs, Ray Bolger: More Than a Scarecrow pieces together the lost story of an itinerant hoofer who survived and thrived during the major media changes of the twentieth century and established himself as a staple of American pop culture.