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Bill Saluga, a comedian best known for his trademark phrase, “You can call me Ray,” has died. He was 85.
Saluga spent eight months in the hospital and died March 28 in hospice care in Los Angeles, his friend Bill Minkin told The Hollywood Reporter.
Born Sept. 16, 1937, in Youngstown, Ohio, Saluga worked as a doorman at The Bitter End in New York, then took the stage at the famed nightclub as a member of the Ace Trucking Company.
The improvisational comedy group, with other founding members including George Memmoli, Michael Mislove, Patti Deutsch and Fred Willard, found success in the 1960s and ’70s. They opened for Tom Jones in Las Vegas and performed on the singer’s 1971 ABC variety show, which was filmed in London.
Saluga’s Raymond J. Johnson Jr. was his most notable character. He would begin comedy sketches with “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me …” and would continue the bit before ending it with, “but you doesn’t has to call me Johnson.”
Saluga also was an usher on the 1992 Seinfeld installment “The Opera”and played Richard Lewis’ uncle on three episodes of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2005. He made appearances on other shows, including Redd Foxx, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The David Steinberg Show, Mad About You, Blossom, Home Improvement, Sisters and Murphy Brown.
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