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Ray Rayner
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TV Personality
    (July 23, 1919-January 21, 2004)
    Born in Queens, New York
    Birth name was Raymond M. Rahner
    Best remembered as host of 'Ray Rayner and His Friends' (later renamed 'The Ray Rayner Show') on superstation WGN-TV (1962-81)
    Portrayed country bumpkin clown Oliver O. Oliver on 'Bozo's Circus' (1961-71)
    Authored the book 'The Story of Television' (1972)
    Died of pneumonia in Fort Myers, Florida at age 84
    Though born in Queens, he made his bones on a Chicago based kiddie program.
    When he took over the WGN-TV time slot of 'Breakfast With Bugs Bunny,' his ego made it so the retitled program bore his name.
    One of the most popular features of the show was when Chelveston the Duck would chase him around the set, nipping at his jumpsuit cuffs.
    It was later revealed he put duck feed in the cuffs to make the duck 'attack' (and there were four Chelvestons during the course of the show).
    He clipped notes to his jumpsuit to help him remember segments, but later fessed up the notes were blank and it was part of his shtick.
    He shilled for McDonald's, going so far as portraying Ronald McDonald locally.
    While still popular, he left the show in 1981 to move to Albuquerque, citing the harsh Chicago winters as the cause.
    As a B-17 navigator for the Army Air Corps during World War II, he was shot down over France in 1943, and spent 2½ years as a German prisoner of war.
    He was helping create an escape tunnel from the camp (depicted in the 1963 film 'The Great Escape'), but was transferred to another camp before its completion.
    During his time as a prisoner, he discovered his talent for entertaining, and got into TV shortly after war's end.
    He wasn't sure about being a kiddie personality, but his show was an immediate hit.
    Proving you're never too old to learn, he received an M.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago at age 51 (1970).
    While immersed in his show, he also found time for directing student productions at Loyola University Chicago.
    He earned several local Emmys and was a member of the Silver Circle of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
    He had a powerful singing voice and performed many times at local dinner theatre productions, both musical and non-musical.
    After his long-time first wife died in 1995, he began doing charity work, including time with the Grant A Wish Foundation (for terminally ill children), delivering Meals on Wheels, and reading to the blind.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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