Raymond Bailey's first job in Hollywood was as a laborer, but he was fired for sneaking into a mob scene during a movie shoot.
I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point.
Raymond Thomas Bailey
6 May 1904, San Francisco, California
15 April 1980, Irvine, California
Raymond Thomas Bailey (May 6, 1904 – April 15, 1980) was an American actor on the Broadway stage, movies, and television. He is best known for his role as wealthy banker, Milburn Drysdale, in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies.
He was born in San Francisco, California, the son of William and Alice (née O'Brien) Bailey. When he was a teenager he went to Hollywood to become a movie star. He found it was harder than he had thought, however, and took a variety of short-term jobs. He worked for a time as a day laborer at a movie studio in the days of silent pictures, but was fired for sneaking into a mob scene while it was being filmed. He also worked for a while as a stockbroker and a banker.
Having no success getting any kind of movie roles, Bailey then went to New York where he had no better success getting roles in theatre. Eventually he became a crewman on a freighter and began sailing to various parts of the world, including China, Japan, the Philippines and the Mediterranean. While docked in Hawaii, he worked on a pineapple plantation, acted at the community theatre and sang on a local radio program.
In 1938, he decided to try Hollywood again. His luck changed for the better when he actually began getting some bit parts in movies, but after the United States entered World War II he joined the Merchant Marine and went back to sea. When the war was over he returned to Hollywood and eventually began getting bigger character roles.
In the early 1950s, he began being cast in a lot of character roles in TV programs. His numerous appearances include episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales of Tomorrow (episode "Ice from Space"), Frontier, Crusader, My Friend Flicka (episode "When Bugles Blow"), Gunsmoke, Tightrope, State Trooper, COronado 9, he appeared twice The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Playhouse 90, The Rifleman, The Jack Benny Program, Perry Mason, 77 Sunset Strip, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, The Man and the Challenge, The Untouchables, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Tab Hunter Show, and appearing twice on Mister Ed. During its 1960-1961 season, he had a regular role on My Sister Eileen and guest starred on Pat O'Brien's ABC sitcom Harrigan and Son. He appeared as Dean McGillis in "The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis", and during the 1962-1963 season continued to appear, despite a full-time role in "The Beverly Hillbillies". He appeared in four Broadway plays, as Howard Haines in Last Stop (1944), playing an unknown man in The Bat (1953), A.J. Alexander in Sing Till Tomorrow (1953), and Captain Randolph Southard in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1954–1955), which starred Henry Fonda. Bailey's movie roles include playing a member of the board in the comedy/romance Sabrina (1954) starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden; Mr. Benson in the drama Picnic (1955) starring William Holden and Kim Novak; a doctor in Hitchcock's drama/thriller Vertigo (1958) starring James Stewart and Novak; a Colonel in the comedy No Time for Sergeants (1958) starring Andy Griffith; the warden of San Quentin in the crime/drama I Want to Live! (1958) starring Susan Hayward; Lawyer Brancato in the crime drama Al Capone (1959) starring Rod Steiger; and Major General Alexander "Archie" Vandegrift in the World War Two drama The Gallant Hours (1960). He also played a plantation owner in Band of Angels (1957) starring Clark Gable, Sidney Poitier and Yvonne De Carlo. Two years before he was cast as Milburn Drysdale, a greedy bank president, on the hit TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, Bailey appeared on the CBS sitcom My Sister Eileen with Shirley Bonne, Elaine Stritch, Jack Weston, Rose Marie, and Stubby Kaye. His character was D.X. Beaumont, the boss of Stritch's character Ruth Sherwood. In The Beverly Hillbillies, Nancy Kulp portrayed Bailey's ever loyal and "by the book" secretary, Miss Jane Hathaway. Banker Drysdale managed the millions of dollars in oil money royalties in the bank account of country gentleman Jed Clampett (portrayed by Buddy Ebsen). Often, Mr. Drysdale would be required to talk with Clampett about how strange "city life" and "city folk" are (when compared to Mr. Clampett's view of "normal" country folk). On occasions when Mr. Clampett was considering withdrawing all his funds and returning to the country (his home near Bugtussle), the miserly Mr. Drysdale would often panic and work to try to convince him (and his unusual family) to remain in Beverly Hills (to great comedic effect). Interesting to note that before becoming an actor he, himself was a banker in Beverly Hills.
After the show went off the air in 1971, Bailey acted in a few less-noteworthy movie roles. He reportedly began suffering symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, which visibly affected his performance in the last episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, and he was completely unable to work after 1975. In his final years he divided his time between a condo and a houseboat in Laguna Niguel, California, keeping in touch with former co-star Nancy Kulp (who he nicknamed 'Slim') but mostly reclusive.
Raymond Bailey died of a heart attack, aged 75 in Irvine, California. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He was survived by his wife Gaby Aida George (1914 – 1985).