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Born in Santa Ana (California), he started in theater when he was a student at Fullerton High School in Fullerton (California). While there he performed in several dramatic productions at the Plummer Auditorium, and Raitt sang in the choir of “Desert Song.”
He is best known for his roles in the musicals Carousel, Oklahoma !, The Pajama Game, Carnival in Flanders, Three Wishes for Jamie, and A Joyful Noise, in which he established the standard of the virile, attractive and powerful voice interpreter of the golden age of the Broadway musical. His only leading role for the big screen was in the version filmed in 1957 of the musical The Pajama Game, together with Doris Day.
On television he intervened on numerous occasions at the Bell Telephone Hour. In 1957, also for television, he and Mary Martin recreated their leading roles in Annie Get Your Gun.
In addition, Raitt made several recordings of Broadway musicals, including Oklahoma! (as Curly), and Show Boat (as Gaylord Ravenal).
In 1945 John Raitt was one of the first winners of the Theater World Award, for his performance in Carousel. In 1965 he starred in the twentieth installment of the awards at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Raitt died in 2005 in Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles), California due to complications of pneumonia. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6126 Hollywood Boulevard, for his contribution to the theater.
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