A Man Ahead of His Time – Ray Rayner

I may be aging myself on this blog post, but I don’t care. If you grew up during the same generation that I did in the Midwest, you will fondly remember Ray Rayner. Part Clown, Fashionista, Animal Lover and Artisan.

Ray Rayner was ahead of his time, and I mean this in the most sincere way. If you recall during his daily shows, he wore a one piece polyester jumpsuit. This would be similar to what prisoners wear now, but I digress. Ray wanted to have a one piece jumpsuit so he could maneuver between fake and real animals. Plus, he had to stick all those pieces of paper on himself with paper clips to remind him of what he needed to do. Yes – he made post-it notes popular before post-it notes were even invented.

A Man Ahead of His Time.

He learned how to work with fake animals and real ones alike. Chalveston, the mean duck he would feed head lettuce and cheerios to, would wobble around the stage and hated to get into the kiddie pool. I think he also hated Ray and actually ran after him a few times. But, he loved Chalveston because the kids who were watching loved him too, so Ray became the 70’s version of Steve Irwin (but Ray didn’t die from Chalveston biting him).

And, then there was Cuddly Duddly the lovable dog who lived in the doghouse that Ray would visit to open and read letters from the kids who faithfully watched his show. Cuddly Duddly was a smart ass. If you can recall some of the bantering back and forth between Ray and C.D., it would appear that C.D. wanted some extra air time. Wait…..it’s a puppet. Puppets don’t deserve extra air time unless your Kermit.

So, again Ray was one of the few people on television who would feed live animals and talk to fake ones. Although Sesame Street was on at the same time Ray Rayner was, Sesame Street didn’t double up on the live animals like Ray did. He had an edge….

A Man Ahead of His Time.

Lastly, I immediately fell in love with the old fashioned paste and then later, Elmer’s Glue, that Ray would over zealously use on his arts and crafts segment. The finished product that Ray was to copy was beautifully done. But, for some reason Ray just couldn’t control his compulsion to apply extra glue onto the teeniest, tiniest little sequin. Maybe he was thinking sequins were like his pieces of paper on his one piece prison-like jumpsuit – always falling off whether they were paper clipped or not. But again, Ray was a man ahead of his time. The only guy I knew that did anything remotely close to arts and crafts during that generation on T.V. was some German painter on WTTW who sounded vaguely like Wolfgang Puck. He did these landscape oil paintings every Saturday afternoon. I was mesmerized, but then couldn’t feel I was being cheated during his shows since all of his landscapes started looking the same to me.

And, let’s not forget that Ray always had Looney Tunes (the ORIGINAL ones), Clutch Cargo (with the moving, blood red lips), and Diver Dan. Suzy Snowflake, Frosty, Hardrock, Coco and Joe. By the way, that Santa in Hardrock, Coco and Joe scared the shit out of me. I mean….Look at him!

Ray Rayner was the Bomb.


2 thoughts on “A Man Ahead of His Time – Ray Rayner

  1. I loved Ray Rayner too. Still sing the song for the Lincoln Park Zoo segment…la la la we’ve got some green alligators and long neck geese, some humpy-back camels and some chimpanzees. Cats and and rats and elephants, but lord I’m so forlorn…I just can’t see no unicorn…la la la. =o)

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