02 June 2006

George Raft's Fabled Italian Ancestry

Did George Raft make up his Italian ancestry or was it his devotees who did it as Italian American Actors suggests? Fan-written Wikipedia says that George Raft had an Italian mother and the FBI says he is Italian, but the American National Bibliography says Raft's parents are Conrad Ranft and Eva Glockner. With this conflicting information, I could not help but want to check it out. I was surprised by what I found.

In 1910, George is with his parents Conrad and Eva Ranft in New York City. His father says he was born in Massachussets and his mother says she is from Germany. The parents give the same birthplaces in 1900. So that confirms it: George Raft had no Italian ancestry.

But what's surprising is that he is only 8 years old in 1910 and does not appear at all in 1900. Practically every source has his birthdate as 26 Sep 1895. Even his gravestone and California death record say 1895.

So now we have evidence that George lied about his age and everybody fell for it. All we have to do is verify it.
  • The social security death index has his birthdate as 26 Sep 1901. The dates on the California death record and the tombstone were provided by someone else, but George himself provided the date to the Social Security Administration, probably along with proof of age.
  • The index to New York City Births records a George Rauft born 26 Sep 1901. Remember, George's real name was Ranft. If, like me, you spend all your spare time looking at census records, you know that an N and a U look the same.

Someone who wants to write a biography of George might want to examine the actual birth record, but that's enough evidence for me.

1 comment:

AlbuquerqueRealtor said...

George Raft was my grandmother's first cousin; from what i remember, she did say that her mother's brother (ranft) married an italian, which gave George his looks; my uncle was a spitting image of GR. In fact, dresser pictures she had i later saw in a George Raft biography; when i gave her the book to read back in the 1970's, she had the best time, recollecting stories that she had already told me that were in his book.