Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Never Mets:Ray Rayner

Ray Rayner was a Chicago children's television institution in the 60's and 70's. Whether as Oliver O. Oliver on Bozo's Circus or as himself on Ray Rayner and His Friends, Rayner endeared himself to parents and children.
Rayner is fondly remembered for his do-it-yourself projects (which were never quite as good as Chauncey's attempts), the jelly bean counting contest, his interaction with Chelveston the Duck and his 2 billed baseball cap (1 side for each Chicago team, as he showed highlights from the games). Rayner also lip-synched to classic old tunes, visited Lester Fisher at the Lincoln Park Zoo and read fan mail with Cuddly Dudley (the dog puppet voiced by Roy Brown aka Cooky the Clown). Rayner also was famous for pinning notes to his brightly colored jumpsuits (sort of a precursor to post-it notes).
Rayner's show was definitely aimed at children, but was also enjoyable for adults. Rayner managed to entertain everyone without appearing to 'try' to entertain them.
I never knew that Rayner was a POW during World War II. In fact, he helped prepare the escape route which was depicted in The Great Escape. Rayner was moved to another camp before the escape actually happened.
I really wanted Rayner to appear in one of the NIE ads. I sent him a couple requests and was on the verge of trying to call him when I heard the news of his death on 1/21/04. Rayner's death truly saddened me. It was like a piece of my childhood was gone.
Ray Rayner with Chelveston the Duck, a puppy from the Animal Cruelty Society and Cuddly Dudley.


Steve said...

Ray Raynor a true Chicago classic - my mother tried to convince me that Raynor was also our milk delivery guy and I used to try to wakeup really early thursday mornings to "catch him" but never did confirm my Mom's story. That was back in the day when milk was actually delivered to homes in suburban Chicago. Those were the days . . .

Johngy said...

I think Ray was too busy doing too many shows, but you never know about that MilkMan possibility.
I was trying to describe Ray's show to friends from NY. It sounded so strange, such an odd jumble of things. Yet, my memories of the show are so warm and comforting.

Greg said...

All the characters in the Ray Raynor show was based on his WWII experience. I think Chauncy was the base he flew out of, and Chelveston had some meaning which I forgot.
P.s. I still have my cuddly duddly doll, and the original box! (which is a car)

Roseanne said...

i loved cuddly dudley and ray and bozo those were the good ole days lol

Johngy said...

Hey Roseanne,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Anonymous said...

I remember watching Ray on WGN as a kid back in the 70s. I'll never forget how they would show a painted character on the wall, such as Buggs Bunny, to introduce a cartoon with that character. I was fascinated with TV-Pow, a video game where a player would say "Pow" over the phone to shoot a bullet on the screen.