He is on the school's "Hall of Fame" for his accomplishments. He is best known for his stage roles in the musicals Carousel, Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game, Carnival in Flanders, Three Wishes for Jamie, and A Joyful Noise, in which he set the standard for virile, handsome, strong-voiced leading men during the golden age of the Broadway musical. His only leading film role was in the 1957 movie version of The Pajama Game opposite Doris Day. On television, he was seen many times on the Bell Telephone Hour. A clip of a television performance of Raitt singing the final section of the song "Soliloquy" from Carousel is included in the documentary film Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There. In 1957, also for television, he and Mary Martin re-created their starring roles in the national touring version of Annie Get Your Gun. In addition, Raitt made several studio cast recordings of Broadway musicals, including Oklahoma! (as Curly), and Show Boat (as Gaylord Ravenal). In 1945, John Raitt was one of the recipients of the first Theatre World Award for his debut performance in Carousel.
In 1965, he starred in the twentieth-anniversary production of the show at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 1981, he found out that his high school sweetheart was widowed. Having recently divorced from his second wife, he phoned her. "Having played Zorba, I believe in grabbing at life," he recalled. "So I called her and this sweet voice answered.
'I'm free now,' I told her, 'and I'm coming to dinner.' They married. He died on February 20, 2005, at his home in Pacific Palisades, California, from complications due to pneumonia, aged 88. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Live Theatre. He was the father of singer Bonnie Raitt, and former father-in-law of Michael O'Keefe. He was the grandfather of Bay Raitt, the creator of Gollum's face for the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Read more on Last.fm.
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