Bill Saluga, a comedian best known for his signature line “You can call me Ray,” has passed away. He turned 85.
Saluga spent eight months in the hospital and died March 28 at a Los Angeles hospice, his friend Bill Minkin said. The Hollywood Reporter.
Born on September 16, 1937 in Youngstown, Ohio, Saluga worked as a doorman at New York’s The Bitter End, then took the stage at the famed nightclub as a member of the Ace Trucking Company.
The improvisational comedy troupe, with other founding members including George Memmoli, Michael Mislove, Patti Deutsch and Fred Willard, achieved success in the 1960s and 1970s. 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 started comedy skits with “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me…” and would continue the play before ending it with, “but you don’t have to call me Johnson.”
Saluga was also an usher on the 1992 Seinfeld episode “The Opera” and played Richard Lewis’s uncle in three episodes of HBO’s Control your enthusiasm in 2005. He performed in other shows including Rescue Foxx, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The David Steinberg Show, Crazy about you, Blossom, Renovation, sisters And Murphy Brown.