Raymond Bailey in 1965
|Born||Raymond Thomas Bailey
May 6, 1904
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||April 15, 1980
Irvine, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Ashes scattered at sea|
|Other names||Ray Bailey|
|Spouse(s)||Gaby Aida George (19??-1980; his death)|
Raymond Thomas Bailey (May 6, 1904 – April 15, 1980) was an American actor on the Broadway stage, films, and television. He is best known for his role as wealthy banker, Milburn Drysdale, in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies.
Early life and attempts at acting
He was born in San Francisco, California, the son of William and Alice (née O'Brien) Bailey. When he was a teenager he went to Hollywood to become a movie star. He found it was harder than he had thought, however, and took a variety of short-term jobs. He worked for a time as a day laborer at a movie studio in the days of silent pictures, but was fired for sneaking into a mob scene while it was being filmed. He also worked for a while as a stockbroker and a banker.
Having no success receiving movie roles of any kind, Bailey then went to New York where he had no better success obtaining roles in theatre. Eventually he began working as a merchant seaman and sailed to various parts of the world, including China, Japan, the Philippines and the Mediterranean. While docked in Hawaii, he worked on a pineapple plantation, acted at the community theatre and sang on a local radio program.
Success on the second try at acting
In 1938, he decided to try Hollywood again. His luck changed for the better when he actually began getting some bit parts in movies, but after the United States entered World War II he again served in the United States Merchant Marine. When the war was over he returned to Hollywood and eventually began getting bigger character roles.
Early roles in television, Broadway and film
In the early 1950s, Bailey was cast in many character roles in television series, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales of Tomorrow (episode "Ice from Space"), Frontier, Crusader, My Friend Flicka (episode "When Bugles Blow"), Gunsmoke (episodes "General Parsley Smith" & "The Big Con", Tightrope, State Trooper, COronado 9, and Johnny Ringo.
Other appearances were on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Playhouse 90,Science Fiction Theatre The Rifleman, The Jack Benny Program, Riverboat, Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Hennesey, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, The Man and the Challenge, The Untouchables, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Tab Hunter Show, Pete and Gladys, The Donna Reed Show, Bachelor Father, Going My Way, and twice on Mister Ed.
Bailey made two guest appearances on Perry Mason; in 1959 he played banker Mr. Hilliard in "The Case of the Caretaker's Cat," and in 1961, Dr. Bell in "The Case of the Injured Innocent." During its 1960–1961 season, he had a regular role on My Sister Eileen and guest-starred on Pat O'Brien's ABC sitcom Harrigan and Son.In 1961 he appeared on Lassie as general ( Iron Pants ) Steel. He appeared in the 1962–1963 season as Dean McGruder on CBS's The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, starring Dwayne Hickman. He appeared on Dobie Gillis while also cast full-time as banker Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.
Bailey appeared in four Broadway plays, as Howard Haines in Last Stop (1944), playing an unknown man in The Bat (1953), A. J. Alexander in Sing Till Tomorrow (1953), and Captain Randolph Southard in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1954–1955), which starred Henry Fonda.
Bailey's film roles include playing a member of the board in the comedy/romance Sabrina (1954) starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden; Mr. Benson in the drama Picnic (1955) starring William Holden and Kim Novak; a doctor in Hitchcock's drama/thriller Vertigo (1958) starring James Stewart and Novak; a Colonel in the comedy No Time for Sergeants (1958) starring Andy Griffith; the warden of San Quentin in the crime/dramas I Want to Live! starring Susan Hayward and as Philip Dressler in The Lineup (1958); lawyer Brancato in the crime drama Al Capone (1959) starring Rod Steiger; and Major General Alexander "Archie" Vandegrift in the World War Two drama The Gallant Hours (1960). He also played a plantation owner in Band of Angels (1957) starring Clark Gable, Sidney Poitier and Yvonne De Carlo. He also played in the low-budget horror classic, Tarantula.
Mr. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies
Two years before he was cast as Milburn Drysdale, a greedy bank president, on the hit TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, Bailey appeared on the CBS sitcom My Sister Eileen with Shirley Bonne, Elaine Stritch, Jack Weston, Rose Marie, and Stubby Kaye. His character was D. X. Beaumont, the boss of Stritch's character Ruth Sherwood.
In The Beverly Hillbillies, Nancy Kulp portrayed Bailey's ever loyal and "by the book" secretary, Miss Jane Hathaway. Banker Drysdale managed the millions of dollars in oil money royalties in the bank account of country gentleman Jed Clampett (portrayed by Buddy Ebsen). Often, Mr. Drysdale would be required to talk with Clampett about how strange "city life" and "city folk" are (when compared to Mr. Clampett's view of "normal" country folk). On occasions when Mr. Clampett was considering withdrawing all his funds and returning to the country (his home near Bug Tussle), the miserly Mr. Drysdale would often panic and work to try to convince him (and his unusual family) to remain in Beverly Hills (to great comedic effect).
After the show went off the air in 1971, Bailey acted in a few less-noteworthy movie roles. He reportedly began suffering symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which visibly affected his performance in the last episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, and he was completely unable to work after 1975. In his final years he divided his time between a condo and a houseboat in Laguna Niguel, California, keeping in touch with former co-star Nancy Kulp (whom he nicknamed 'Slim') but mostly reclusive.
Raymond Bailey died of a heart attack on April 15, 1980, aged 75, in Irvine, California. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He was survived by his wife, Gaby Aida George (1914–1985).
- Pollock, Christopher (2013). Reel San Francisco Stories: An Annotated Filmography of the Bay Area. Chaumont-en-Champagne, France: Castor & Pollux. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-578-13042-2.
- "TV Banker's Discovery: 'Money Can Buy Happiness'". El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso, TX. May 29, 1965. p. 8.
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