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Ray Rayner

Oh, goodness. This is not going to be an easy day. I woke up to the news that Ray Rayner had passed away, at the age of 84. Ray and "The Ray Rayner Show" were such a vital and cherished part of my childhood that I'm getting a bit choked up trying to think of the right words to say. Ray's smile, his humor, his warmth and his overall goodness made him seem like a close friend to me, a generally lonely child, even through the otherwise depersonalized medium of television. He sent me off to school every morning with a wave and a smile, until we'd see each other again the next day.

So many memories...the hideously colored jumpsuits, with notes paperclipped everywhere...his gloriously inept art projects which were made with three times as much glue as necessary, and which bore little or no resemblance to the prototype, as created by "Mrs. Chauncey"...the visits to the little cottage of Cuddly Dudley the dog, where the wonderfully innocent letters of kid viewers were respectfully read and shared...the one-man parades around the studio, accompanied by canned Sousa marches..."Ark in the Park", the trips to Lincoln Park Zoo ("Dr. Fisher's in the monkey house!")...the chalkboard with the sports scores (for the local pro teams, plus the Slippery Rock football team) and the weather forecast ("Today's Weather: Swell")...chasing Chelveston the Duck around the studio, before the low fence named "Rayner's Ranch" was erected...the humorously pathetic attempts at singing.

One of my proudest childhood moments was the time that Ray and Cuddly Dudley read a poem which my sister Marti and I wrote. I can only remember a few lines of it:

When old Ray Rayner starts to sing
We turn the volume way down low
Though Ray Rayner's nice
And cool as the ice
He sings just like good old Joe Schmoe.

He taught me so many lessons about life. Every kid is special. We all make mistakes. Laugh at yourself. Respect others. Wear your boots and galoshes. And--unintentionally but hilariously--nature cannot be tamed, as evidenced by his fruitless attempts to get Chelveston to swim in that ridicilous little plastic tub.

More often than not, sad news like this seems to arrive on days of foul weather or subzero temperatures. This was already a subzero week, and it just got a little bit colder.

So long, Ray.

January 22, 2004 in Memoir, Television | Permalink


So sad. I didn't know this until I saw your blog. First Mr. Rodgers and now this.

Posted by: Julie at Jan 22, 2004 1:16:26 PM

This is just too sad. I always talked about Ray Rayner and will never forget him and Chelveston. Those are fond memories I have from watching him in the 70s. Bye Ray and thanks for everything -especially the school closings! PBS over and out.

Posted by: Vern at Feb 3, 2004 2:32:44 AM

PBS, indeed. It wasn't until I read the tribute articles after I wrote this post that I remembered the "Pretend Broadcasting System", with a modified kitchen strainer as the microphone. Another gem.

Posted by: Pete at Feb 3, 2004 8:35:47 AM

"We're off to Cuddley Duddley's house he's cute as he can be, with his hair of gold and nose that's cold he's cuddly as can be,
with his riddle and jokes and fun that he pokes is never aimed at me,
here's the place that he lives and the name that he gives is...Cuddley!"
Thanks Ray!

Posted by: Craig at Feb 7, 2004 1:49:10 PM

Ray Rayner molded the hearts and minds of many young kids early in the morning,He was a part of my family. Even more so when I woke Christmas morning to be surprised with joy of Cuddly Duddly near our christmas tree!!! All I have left is his picture with me on that christmas morning. It was stolen from our storage in Chicago. Thanks to the family for the memories.

Posted by: Terri Maness at Nov 3, 2005 4:55:16 PM

Ray Rayner did good

Posted by: John Wilson at Oct 20, 2008 7:04:47 PM