Stunt Memorial: Raisch, Bill (RIP)

Bill Raisch

Born: 1905

Passed: 1984

Bill Raisch was born of German immigrant parents in New Jersey in 1905. After graduating from high school, Raisch took a job at a construction site hauling cement. When he wasn't working, he lifted weights at Sig Klein's Gym in New York City. Raisch was noticed by a society girl looking for a dancing partner and he escorted her to various parties as her date and dancing partner. Raisch came to the attention of Marilyn Miller the star of Ziegfield Follies. She introduced him to Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., who signed Raisch up for his dance troupe. In the late 1920s, Raisch danced for Ziegfield at the New Amsterdam Roof Theater where he got to work with Maurice Chevalier making his first American stage appearance and he also appeared in the stage musical "Whoopee" starring Eddie Cantor. While he was dancing in New York, Raisch, coming home from work one evening, was attacked by five muggers on the street. Although he was worked over, Raisch took them on and beat them all up single-handily. The next day, a newspaper ran a picture of Raisch with the headline, "Don't Say Dancers Are Sissies". While still in New York, Raisch met and married his wife, Ziegfeld dancer Adele Smith. During World War II, Raisch served in the U.S. Navy where he was badly wounded in early 1945 fighting a shipboard fire in which he was so badly burned he lost his right arm. With his stage career over, Raisch moved to Los Angeles in 1946 where Ben Hecht had a part for him in the movie Specter of the Rose (1946). In 1952, Raisch became a stand-in for Burt Lancaster where he appeared as a double for the famous actor and later appeared as a one-armed man in Lonely Are the Brave (1962). Here Raisch was noticed and offered the recurring role on the TV Series The Fugitive (1963) - Fred Johnson, the One-Armed Man, which David Janssen's character Dr. Richard Kimble hounds throughout the series. However, Raisch was hired just for his looks, not his acting ability. His very first speaking role was mainly limited to a handful of episodes with short lines and speeches. Because of the show's popularity, Raisch was so recognizable as the One-Armed Man that it was almost impossible for him to get work on other shows. So, producer Quinn Martin put Raisch on a retainer, giving him a degree of security. After "The Fugitive" series ended in 1967, Raisch, fed up with typecast TV and movie offers, rarely acted again, although his popularity of the One-Armed Man never diminished. He worked as an acting teacher and coach in West Los Angeles from then on until his death. Bill Raisch died from lung cancer in a hospital in Santa Monica in July 1984 at the age of 79.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All