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(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Ray Corrigan ... older and in civilian dress


(From Old Corral image collection)

As the B western era was close to the end, Republic produced a Roy Rogers oater named TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950) which had a bunch of 'guest stars'.  In the lobby card above are, from L-to-R: Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, Tom Tyler, heroine Penny Edwards, youngster Carol Nugent, Roy Rogers, Gordon Jones ... and on the white horse is Ray Corrigan (with his hand on Tom Tyler's shoulder).

A question comes to mind relative to this film - if Corrigan had difficulties with salary at Republic, and that was the cause of his exit, I wonder why he came back to Republic for this film.  Since he opened Corriganville to the public around 1949, I wonder if his appearance in TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD was an attempt to re-introduce himself to Saturday matinee audiences who might not recall his earlier Three Mesquiteers films.  Perhaps this was around the time he was planning that new 'The Buckskin Rangers' trio series for television that was mentioned earlier.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
On the left is Ray in his famous gorilla costume. Corrigan had the gorilla suit made to his specs.  It was constructed with human hair, and to add some realism, the nostrils even pulsated.  Corrigan's gorilla impersonation also included the required grunts, chest beating and kicking dust into the air, and this was all done while perspiring under the hairy costume.

He performed this role in many films over a span of twenty or more years including Three Mesquiteers adventures THREE TEXAS STEERS (Republic, 1939) and COME ON, COWBOYS! (Republic, 1937). Visit the Internet Movie Database and you'll find references to some of his other ape appearances - examples are KILLER APE (1953), one of the 'Jungle Jim' adventures with Johnny Weissmuller as well as the serial THE MONSTER AND THE APE (Columbia, 1945).

Competing against Corrigan for gorilla roles in the 1940s was Emil Van Horn who was the ape named 'Satan' in the cliffhanger PERILS OF NYOKA (Republic, 1942) as well as other films.

In addition to the gorilla outfit, Corrigan also wore some other 'costumes' in various movies, and an example is below.



(From Old Corral image collection)



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Ray with pretty Gloria Winters (Penny in the SKY KING TV show) at the 1959 Sheriff's Rodeo, Sunnyside, California.
 
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Ray Corrigan - 1976 photo.


(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)
Ray and his son, Tommy Corrigan.



IN SEARCH OF RAY 'CRASH' CORRIGAN, RAY BENARD/BERNARD, RAY BENITZ ...

Biographies on Corrigan have indicated that his real last name was Benard, Bernard, Bernhard or another variation. Recent information indicates that is incorrect. Where did self and other researchers get that last name? The trail is confusing, but the following might help.

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Corrigan:

  • Birth and death of a sister named Lidia Benitz - born April 24, 1898 and passed away on January 11, 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her parents were Bernhard Benitz (born Germany) and Ida Malschewski (born Germany):
    Birth: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRVD-G8B
    Death: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XL84-J6B
  • 1900 census: 29 year old Bernhard Benitz (born Germany) and 36 year old wife Ida Benitz (born Germany) are living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMKP-4VF
    1900 census takers worksheet: the family is living at 1105 16th Street in Milwaukee and Bernhard's occupation is "tailor": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12876-25677-5?cc=1325221&wc=M94B-DRG:n713067377
  • February 14, 1902 birth record for Raymond Benitz in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Parents are Bernhard Benitz (born Germany) and Ida Molschewski (born Germany): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRYR-KQT
  • 1910 census: 39 year old Bernard Bennett (born Germany), 46 year old wife Ada (born Germany), and 8 year old son Raymond (born Wisconsin) are living in Denver, Colorado: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MK4S-WN7
    Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet: Bernard is still a "tailor".
  • 1920 census: 48 year old Bernhart Bennitz (born Germany), 53 year old wife Ida (born Germany), and 17 year old son Raymond (born Wisconsin) are living in Denver, Colorado: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MX26-BHS
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet: the family is renting at 142 South Logan Street, Denver. Father Bernhart is still a "tailor" and son Raymond works in an "auto shop".
  • Ancestry had the California Marriage Index of Ray B. Corrigan marrying Elaine Z. Dupont (Elaine Zazueta) on April 7, 1956 in Los Angeles, California.
  • You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). There you will find a record for: Ray Corrigan, born February 14, 1902, and he passed away August, 1976 in Brookings, Curry County, Oregon.

But there's always a mystery or a surprise twist. The Hollywood Gorilla Men website has a photo of Corrigan with a saluation on the back. It reads:
"To Dorothy
Best Wishes
Ray Benard---
Apollo,
10/30/34"

The Apollo mention refers to his role in NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS (Universal, 1935).
The saluation at the bottom of the photo continues with:
"Double for Johnny Weissmuller"
The photo and info is at: http://www.hollywoodgorillamen.com/2013/03/e-gors-gorilla-goodiesa-pre-crash.html


Above is a opening cast and credit screen from NIGHTLIFE which shows Ray billed as Raymond Benard.

Crash's son Tom operates his Corrigan's Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks, California. Interestingly, the brief bio on Tommy's dad has his name as Raymond Benard: http://www.corriganssteakhouse.com/about.html

Speculation: Based on the Wisconsin Birth Index, it appears he was born Raymond Benitz. And in the early 1930s in Hollywood, he changed the last name to Benard/Bernard (which was either a variation of his father's real first name, or perhaps Benard/Bernard was Ray's middle name). When he signed on with Republic Pictures, the name change to Ray 'Crash' Corrigan occurred.



CORRIGAN LINKS

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Ray Corrigan and Monogram producer George W. Weeks. Click below:
     Ray Corrigan: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0181003/
     George W. Weeks - Producer: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0917316/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Corrigan is buried in an unmarked grave at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10030572

In the prior text on Corrigan, there was mention of some battles and court cases involving Ray, his ex-wife Rita, and the ownership of Corriganville. There was also their divorce and custody of their three children. The Google News Archive has articles from 1954 about these issues:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2506&dat=19540606&id=Uw1ZAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UkYNAAAAIBAJ&pg=6019,958404
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=860&dat=19640624&id=O5IKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BUwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2233,6828139
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19640629&id=_hpQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7VYDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4542,4962862
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19640624&id=CVZYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lPcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5979,5617586
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19541222&id=W6shAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PpoFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5905,3941726
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2199&dat=19541221&id=7IxWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dkENAAAAIBAJ&pg=6866,5708577
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1913&dat=19541221&id=vgtHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=t_MMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1279,5562753

Jerry L. Schneider's Movie-Making Locations Guide website on Hollywood film locations is at: http://www.movielocationsplus.com/
and Jerry's expanded site on Ray Corrigan's Corriganville is at: http://www.corriganville.net/

Author Stephen Lodge worked at Corriganville and reminisces about Crash Corrigan's movie ranch in several articles:
"And Meanwhile...Back A The Ranch: Can You Remember Corriganville": http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=12206&id=8414
"Ken Maynard: One of the Good Guys": http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=26883

The Museum of Musical Instruments website has a lengthy writeup on Corrigan and his Gibson SJ-200 Super Jumbo flat-top guitar:
http://www.themomi.org/museum/singcowboys/1936GibsonSJ-200CrashCorrigan.html
http://www.themomi.org/museum/articles/singingcowboys/3.html

The Astounding B Monster website mentions Corrigan wearing a rubber suit and portraying the titled monster in IT, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958): http://www.bmonster.com/scifi16.html

The Three Stooges Net website lists several shorts with Corrigan doing his gorilla thing: http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/1050

Don't forget to check out the Cowboy Trios section on the Old Corral.  There, you'll find more info on Ray Corrigan under the Three Mesquiteers and Range Busters.  Make sure to checkout Dennis Landadio's reviews of the Mesquiteer films.  And there's info and photos on Corriganville in the section marked Corriganville Movie Ranch.



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