Timeline: 1939-1966

At 3:30 am on February 12, 1939, Raymond Daniel Manczarek is born. His father was Raymond Sr, who worked as a tool-and-die maker at the local International Harvester plant. His mother was Helen (Kolenda) Manczarek, a music loving, devoted housewife and amazing mother. Ray and Helen would be blessed with two more sons over the coming years, James and Richard. Ray and his brothers would be “third generation” Americans, with his grandparents coming to America from Europe in the late 1800s.
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The center of Ray’s childhood revolved around the corner of 34th and Bell Avenue in Chicago. Ray’s house was located at 3358 Bell Avenue, Everett grammar school was right across the street, and three blocks away was Hoyne Park, where he would spend almost all his time when he wasn’t at the piano practicing or taking lessons. It was at Hoyne park that Ray first heard the blues on the radio.
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In June of 1956, Ray Manzarek graduates after four years at St. Rita high school in Chicago, IL. While at St. Rita, Ray played basketball, baseball, football, and was a member of the St. Rita Forum (competitive speech club).

Ray would later say about St. Rita, “What got me through four years of high school was the radio in Chicago. Rhythm-and-blues stations. The real stuff. Al Benson all afternoon and early evening. Big Bill Hill from nine o’clock ‘till well beyond midnight. I’d come home from school, turn on the radio, and there they were. My heroes. The men. The giants.”


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Before attending UCLA, Ray attended De Paul University in Chicago, getting his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1960. As Ray explored the artistic, cinematic and blues scenes of Chicago, he also participated in many on campus activities. Ray was a member of the Sigma Lambda speech club, the Commerce and economics club, participated in the De Paul variety show each year, plus acted and sang in multiple theater productions. He also stuck with his favorite sport of basketball, winning the Intramural championship with six of his friends his senior year. Ray graduated from De Paul on June 8th, 1960 and would enroll in Law School at UCLA soon after.

While attending DePaul, Ray and his brothers started their own rock and roll band called “Rick and the Ravens”. Ray was the lead singer and used the stage name, “Screamin’ Ray Daniels”.


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After graduating from De Paul University in 1960, Ray Manzarek enrolled in law school at UCLA. After a few weeks of classes, Ray knew he wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer and decided to enlist in the military. Ray served in Thailand and Okinawa, playing piano for his fellow troops whenever he could. After completing his service, Ray would return to UCLA and enroll in film school.
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After his time in the army, Ray re-enrolls at UCLA, but this time in the film school. In his years at UCLA, he would make several student films, meet his future wife Dorothy Fujikawa, become friends with future band-mate Jim Morrison, and take LSD for the first time. UCLA essentially set the stage for the rest of Ray’s life.
When Ray met Dorothy Fujikawa at UCLA, he had just entered the film department and she was an art student. Ray and Dorothy hit it off immediately and soon never left each other’s side. Ray featured Dorothy in all of his student films. He said this about Dorothy, “She had a vulnerable intensity that the camera just adored. She had a quality in her voice that gave the lines I had written for her a truth and life of their own. And her eyes. She could look into you and through you. No games. No lies. She was in her moment in time. And she was cute as hell!”. Ray and Dorothy were married at City Hall in 1967 with Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson as their witnesses. Dorothy was Ray’s soulmate, his wife, lover and best friend in everything he did for the rest of his life.
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Ray met Jim at UCLA through a mutual friend, John DeBella (who served as camera man on both Ray’s and Jim’s student films). Ray and Jim hit it off immediately due to a mutual love and respect for cinema, poetry, philosophy and the arts. Jim Morrison actually had a cameo in the party scene of Ray’s UCLA student film, “Induction”.

Related Info: Induction
While at UCLA, Ray produces and directs at least three student films and also participates in the production of his classmate’s films. These films were the “term papers” for film students. Ray’s first film is called “Who And Where I Live”. It focuses on Ray and Dorothy’s life and their apartment on Fraser Avenue. This film is considered lost. If you have any information on this film, or know the whereabouts of a copy, please contact us via the “Contact Us” page. His second film was “Induction” and his third, “Evergreen” . All three films were featured in the prestigious “Night of Student Films” in Royce Hall. Jim Morrison’s film never made it to Royce Hall. In fact, it barely made it through the projector! Jim’s film has also since disappeared. If anyone has information on Jim’s film, please contact us!
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Related Info: The Wino and The Blindman Who And Where I Live Evergreen Induction
It’s July of 1965 and Ray has graduated from UCLA.  He is pondering what to do with the rest of his life and decides to walk down to Venice beach from his apartment on Fraser Avenue and think about what to do next.

“It was 1965 and it was summer, and school was finished. Now we had to do something. What are you going to do with your life? About two months later, sometime in July, sitting out on the beach here in Venice, who comes walking down the beach but Jim Morrison. I said, ‘Hey, man, I thought you went to New York’. He said, ‘No, I decided to stay here. I’ve been writing some songs and some poems, and living up on Denis Jacob’s rooftop’. So I said, ‘Let me here some of the songs. Can you sing one for me?’ So he sat down on the beach, and he said, “OK. here’s one I got. Moonlight Drive.’ And when I heard the first lines, ‘Let’s swim to the moon. Let’s climb through the tide. Penetrate the evening that the city sleeps to hide’. I said, ‘Wow. That’s it. We need to get a rock and roll band together’. And he said, ‘Ray, that’s exactly what I had in mind.’ I said to him, ‘You can come live with Dorothy and I at our apartment up on Fraser while we work on the songs. So what are we going to call the band?’. Jim says, ‘The Doors.'”


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