Posted by Newspaper Transcriber on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 13:59:24 :
Jimmy Rae, performer, professional athlete, inventor, real estate developer, Pacifica resident and father of La Honda resident Gail Chalios, died April 30 at Seton Medical Center, Daly City, at age 89, following a long illness.
He was larger than life, Chalios said. “He was so much greater in the perspective of the world than I realized. I loved him dearly — and he was a tremendous man.”
Mr. Rae was born in Baltimore and started performing as a child in his father’s restaurant when patrons applauded his acrobatics. He went professional to help support his family at age 12, after his father’s death.
Within a few years, according to his daughter, he was performing in tumbling and diving exhibitions in theaters, nightclubs, circuses and country clubs around Europe and the United States. He headlined at venues such as the Rainbow Room, Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Palladium in London. He gained fame and world press, she said, for his one-handed handstand atop the Eiffel Tower.
He met his wife, fellow entertainer Jane Margo, when both were babysitting. They married in June 1942 — and the baby they watched grew up to be television journalist Barbara Walters.
During World War II, Mr. Rae became a pilot ferrying troops and cargo for the Military Air Transport Service. After the war, he flew for Northwest Airlines.
His wife was also his partner in several ventures that followed. The two designed and built houses, and started companies in uranium mining, trampoline manufacturing and a therapeutic foot product. They invented a range of items from feminine products to concrete construction technology to a type of hamburger broiler, and more.
“They were always a team, always working together,” said Mr. Rae’s son, Jimmy Rae Jr., of Framingham, Mass. “They loved being together.”
In the early 1980s Mr. Rae relocated to Pacifica to be near his daughter, and he and his wife co-managed the Edgewater Apartments in Pacifica. As part of managing the 40-apartment complex, they did repair work on the building and helped tenants with family and personal issues as well.
“The tenants were an extended family to them,” said Mr. Rae’s son. “Always with a friendly smile and eternal optimism, Jimmy’s genuine pleasure to see everyone, combined with a zest for life to make him the real star that he was to family and friends.”
Mr. Rae is survived by Jane, his wife of 63 years, of Pacifica, his daughter Gail Chalios of La Honda, his son Jimmy Rae Jr. of Framingham, Mass., and four grandchildren, with one great-grandchild on the way.
Funeral services were held May 4 at the Chapel by the Sea, Pacifica.
Mr. Rae’s daughter, Gail Chalios, welcomes condolences and reminiscences at P.O. Box 393, La Honda, CA 94020.
Half Moon Bay Review and Pescadero Pebble, Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Jimmy Rae -- acrobat, pilot, home builder, entrepreneur
- Marianne Costantinou, Chronicle Staff Writer
It was hard to put a label on Jimmy Rae, whose daredevil tumbling and diving stunts during the 1930s and '40s left audiences breathless.
There were dive bombs, replete with double twists, off a springboard and into a bucket of water.
And, there were breakneck somersaults across restaurants, missing patrons' laps by inches.
But his biggest stunt, or certainly his wildest, was a simple handstand -- while perched on a handrail on the top deck of the Eiffel Tower.
One thing was for sure: This was a man who was not afraid of heights. Or of death.
"He was fearless,'' said his son, Jim Rae Jr., of Framingham, Mass.
Jimmy Rae survived the athletic derring-do of his youth with barely a scratch, and in later years became an airline pilot, home builder and designer, and something of an inventor and entrepreneur, said his son.
On Sunday, he died of kidney failure at home. He was 89, and lived with his wife of 63 years in Pacifica.
Mr. Rae performed in some of the most famous venues of his time, in the United States and in Europe, from the Rainbow Room in New York to the London Palladium. He also appeared on several TV variety shows, including "Ed Sullivan" and "Arthur Godfrey," and in some print ads, promoting Ovaltine "for steady nerves."
His scrapbooks are filled with newspaper clippings from New York, Chicago and London. Many writers used superlatives to describe his performance. Even seasoned critics from the trade papers Billboard and Variety gushed about his sense of timing and his gymnastic ability.
He was born Stanislaus Theodosius Rubanowski in Baltimore in 1917, the second-oldest of six. He changed his name because it would not fit on a marquee. His son said he did not know why his father chose the name Jimmy Rae.
Mr. Rae's career began shortly after age 12, at the start of the Great Depression, when his father died and his family was left homeless. Young Jimmy took his tumbling talent on the road to earn money for his family. He was such an instant success at vaudeville and circus shows that by the age of 16 he had made enough money to buy a house for his family.
As word of Mr. Rae's act spread, he got bigger and better jobs. By his early 20s he was a headliner at some of the biggest nightclubs.
At the Latin Quarter nightclub in Boston, Mr. Rae met an attractive dancer and singer named Jane Gail McWhorter, who went by the stage name Jane Margo. One of their first dates was spent babysitting the club owner's toddler daughter. Her name was Barbara Walters.
Mr. Rae and his co-babysitter married in June 1943, and from then on became partners in all they did, said their son.
During World War II, Mr. Rae was a pilot for a private military transport company. His acrobatics career started to slow down as he became older. In the 1950s, his act changed, from the physically intense tumbling and diving to tap dancing and a catty monologue. He described himself as an Acro-Comedian. In the meantime, he became a Northwest Airlines pilot.
Over the next few decades, Mr. Rae and his wife designed their own homes and became home builders in Minneapolis and in Virginia. They also started a uranium mining company in Arizona and a trampoline manufacturing company. Other businesses included a trampoline sports center in Falls Church, Va.
They were also busy inventing, said their son. One of their products was a contraption to soak one's feet in a boot. Mr. Rae and his wife also considered themselves the inventors of the first rotary hamburger broilers in the fast food industry and of the modern sanitary napkin with a protective shield, an idea they came up with when they saw a package of sanitary napkins sitting on a table next to Saran Wrap.
Alas, "He was a visionary, not a businessman," said his son, adding that his father shared the ideas with manufacturers but never patented them.
In the last quarter century of their lives, Mr. Rae and his wife managed the Edgewater Apartments, a 40-unit complex in Pacifica. As recently as two years ago, Mr. Rae could climb ladders and replace shingles on the roof. He refrained, however, from doing any somersaults while he was up there.
In addition to his son and wife, Mr. Rae is survived by a daughter, Gail Chalios of La Honda, and four grandchildren.
The funeral will be at 1 p.m. today at Chapel by the Sea, 801 Oceana Blvd., Pacifica.
San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, May 4, 2006, Page B - 7
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