Ray English, tap dancer and comedian during the 1930s and ’40s who served as the opening act for many celebrities and popular bands, died Jan. 18 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Providence, R.I. He was 85.
English was known for performing physical comedy. As an acrobatic comedian, he would take dives into the orchestra pit. He appeared at numerous nightclubs and supper clubs during his career including the Rainbow Room, the Roxy, New York’s La Conga and the Mayfair in Boston. He also opened for some of the major big bands of the era including Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Count Basie. During World War II, English devoted his time and energy to the USO.
He is survived by three children and eight grandchildren.