Figure 1.--Ra Hould is shown here as a child violin prodigy, which he was, for the Republic picture "Dangerous Holiday" in 1937.
Ra Hould has used many names. Ra was born as Richard Arthur Hould. He worked as Ra Hould from age 4 until he was 13 years old. He was a child violin prodigy. He changed his name when he was 13 to Ronald Sinclair. Today he is perhaps best known as Ronald Sinclair. Most of his film credits are as Ra Hould. One of his best known films is "Dangerous Holiday", a bout a child prodigy.
Ra was born as Richard Arthur Hould in Dunedin, New Zealand, on January 21, 1924. While Ra was a New Zealander, his film career was in America. I don't think that New Zealand had a film industry in the 1920s and 30s.
Ra was a noted child violon prodigy. He was contracted by Republic for "Dangerous Holiday" with a plot centered on a child prodigy.
Ra seems to have had a very short film career, primarily in 1936 and 37.
He worked as Ra Hould from age 4 until he was 13 years old. He changed his name when
he was 13 to Ronald Sinclair. I'm not sure why he changed his name, presumably because the studio though that Ronald Sinclair was a more appealing name to film viewers than Ra Hould which no doubt sounded a bit stange to American audiences. Today he is perhaps best known as Ronald Sinclair. Many but not all of his film credits are as Ra Hould, but modern listings often use Ronald Sinclair.
Ra wore a variety of costumes in his films, including short pants suits, sailor suits, an Eton suit, and military school uniforms. Military school was a common topic for boys in 1930s films. He also wore some historical costumes. Here he wears a white short pants sailor suit for his role in "Dangerous Holiday". American boys this age by the 1930s were not wearing short pants sailor suit. Presumably the costume was to give him a youhful appearance for the film. He also wore a dark sailor suit, I assume for the same film. I'm not sure if the dark suit had long or short pants. Both were very traditiohally styled suit.
I am not sure what kind of clothes Ra wore when not in movie costumes. As he came from New Zealand he presumably wore British style clothing, presumably short pants and kneesocks. This probably changed once he got to America. He would have been about 12 years old in 1936. That was when his first films were made. Most American boys in the mid 1930s began wearing long pants at that age although some wore knickers. Short pants were much less common.
Ra worked under contract with Paramount/Republic. He made a film with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. The films I know of were made in 1936 and 37--only two years. Apprently the Studio did not decide to make any more films with him.
We only know of a few films made by Ra. There may have been more.
This film was set in Ireland during the fight for independence in the early 1920s. A the beautiful daughter of an English diplomat falls in love with an Irish revolutinary, but ultimately has to betray him. The IRA thinks he has sold out and a friend is ordered to assainate him. A very loose allusion to the Michael Collins saga. Ra apparently had only a small role.
This vintage musical western stars Gene Autry whose horse dealing business is threatened by a rival. He becomes involved with the daughter of an army officer. I'm not sure what part Ra plays.
Hollywood set the pattern of imitation long ago. Republic Pictures noted the success of the musicals that Sol Lesser did with Bobby Breen. Republic created "Dangerous Holiday" as a suitable movie vehicle for violin prodigy Ra Hould. A young violin prodigy, Ronnie Campbell, with greedy relatives is unhappy about having to practice all day. He is coddled by his parents and handlers and misses playing and roughhouse like a regular boy. He runs away from home and alarms start ringing--it is assumed that he has been kidnapped. Ronnie males friends with street-urchins who come accross a gangster hideaway. Of course the kids outwit the crooks and in true Hollywood fashion, his parents promise to give Ronnie more freedom. Hedda Hopper appears in the film at just the time shee is beginning to become a major gossip columnist. Ra wears sailor suits, both white and blue ones as a prodigy. After he get his parents sorted out he befins wearing a regular suit.
Figure 2.--Ra is shown here in a Paramount publicity shot. The studios used to dress their child stars much more formally for publicity shots than is the standard for modern publicity photos. This looks like it may have been made for the 1937 film "Thoroughbreads Don't Cry".
Thoroughbreds Don't Cry was the first film which starred Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney together. They are joined by 13 years old Ra Hould/Ronald Sinclair, who was from New Zealand. Ronald plays an English boy, most Americans who identify an Australian accent as English, who comes to America with his grandfather to race their champion horse. At their very first race they see Mickey, who plays a pretty tough acting jockey, ride a winner. Ronald and his grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith) want him as their jockey, and Ronald goes to Mickey's boardinghouse to make an offer. Ronald wears a short pants suit, necktie, and knee socks for most of the film. At the boardinghouse, he hears Judy Garland playing the
piano and introduces himself. Judy stares in mild disbelief at Ronald, attired in his shorts suit, and asks him, "Aren't your knees cold?" Ra looks a bit self conscious and embarassed and even moves his hands a bit to cover his knees, but answers "No, I don't think so". He is invited to have supper at the boardinghouse with Mickey and the other jockeys, who amuse themselves by mocking Ronald's exquisite British manners at the table. Ronald even has to outslug Mickey in a fistfight outside the boardinghouse to convince him to ride the champion British horse. Perhaps Mickey and his cohorts had a new found respect for polite, well dressed English boys! In the film Mickey has troubles with gamblers who convince him to throw a race, Ronald's grandfather dies and he almost loses ownership of the horse. Mickey teaches Ronald how to become a jockey. Ra wins a crucial race that pays him enough money to keep his beloved horse. As the film closes, Judy, Mickey, and Ranald appear set to enjoy a successful racing career.
HBC readers might want to have a look at the prodigy pages. There are many famous child music prodigies. The most famous is certainly Mozart in the 18th Century, but there
have been many others in the 19th and 20th Century. The clothing they wore for their performances were often examples of contemporary formal boys' clothing. Often as they began to grow up their parents liked to keep dressing them in juvenile clothes to emphasize that they were childhood prodigies. I've just begun this page, but would be interested in any comments or contributions by HBC viewers.
Ra apparently did not persue the violin as an adult nor acting. He became a film
editor as an adult. He died on November 22, 1992, of respiratory failure.
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