Rags Ragland (born John Lee Morgan Beauregard Ragland on this day in 1905) was a Minsky’s burlesque comedian who was often a foil to Phil Silvers. A former boxer and truck driver, he often played big, dumb galoots. In the early 40s he was a familiar face in MGM comedies, but it all came crashing to a halt when he returned from boozing it up with Orson Welles in Mexico during his It’s All True phase and collapsed during a rehearsal. He died several days later of alcohol related kidney failure. The year was 1946; Rags was only 41.
To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.