SUITED and booted at Connell’s, the Glasgow tailor-to-the-stars, George Raft is a dapper delight.

Pictured with fellow Hollywood star Herbert Lom and Scots comedian Jimmy Logan, Raft is probably more famous for the roles he turned down than the ones he took on.

(Notable exceptions are Scarface, in which he played sleazy coin-flipping Guido, and Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy in which he played Spats Columbo.)

Raft rejected roles in High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca – all eventually played by Humphrey Bogart.

But in June 1952, the superstar actor was in Glasgow to open a new branch of Connell’s, the menswear store frequented by many stars of stage and screen when they were in the city.

Cesar Romero, singer Billy Eckstine, Donal O’Connor and Abbott and Costello were all known to have popped in to the Union Street tailor’s.

The Evening Times had announced the arrival of ‘George Raft, The Famous Film Star’ a few days earlier – which is why, points out film historian Brian Hannan, the crowds turned out in force.

“Almost 2000 people turned up,” says Brian Hannan, who is from Paisley.

Glasgow Times:

“He was a huge star at the time. He was later banned from Britain in 1967 for fronting a gambling club in London called The Colony.”

The Evening Times reported that Raft’s visit had “disorganised traffic in the centre of the city” and had to be controlled by “foot and mounted police” after waiting two hours for his arrival.

“When his car arrived, hundreds of women, cheering and screaming, rushed forward to mob it,” continued the report, which explained that Raft had ‘flown from London to Renfrew by ‘special ‘plane’.

It continued: “Police held the crowds back while Mr Raft walked a few yards from his car to the entrance of the shop. Amid cheers he cut the broad white ribbon barring the entrance and accepted a gold key tied with Gordon tartan ribbons.”

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According to the newspaper, other ‘notabilities of the stage and sporting worlds’ present at the opening, apart from Lom and Logan, included Jimmy Mason of Third Lanark, Sammy Cox of Rangers and Jimmy Campbell of Clyde.

Lom was best-known for his role as the police chief brought to despair by Clouseau in the Pink Panther films.

Raft was born in New York’s notorious Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood in 1895. He left home at the age of 13 to try prizefighting but soon switched to dancing and worked in ballrooms across the city.

He always claimed to have real-life connections to gangsters and it was probably during this point in his life that those relationships began – at one point, he worked for Owney Madden, the mobster who ran Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club.

Raft became a star overnight with Scarface in 1932 but his later films were less successful. A romance with Betty Grable in the early 1940s ensured he was still a talked-about celebrity.

In the 1960s, he was refused entry to Britain (he managed a gambling club in London) because of alleged underworld connections. He died in 1980.

Did you see George Raft at Connell’s? Do any of our readers remember the shop? We’d love to hear your stories – email or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG