Comedian known for “You Can Call Me Ray,” Bill Saluga, passes away at 85

Comedian known for "You Can Call Me Ray," Bill Saluga, passes away at 85

Bill Saluga, a comedian known for his catchphrase “You can call me Ray,” passed away in Los Angeles on March 28th at the age of 85. His friend, Eric Brenner, confirmed his death due to complications of heart failure and arthritis.

Saluga was a member of the improv group Ace Trucking Co. along with Bill Minkin, Fred Willard, Patti Deutsch, Michael Mislove, and George Memmoli. His friend Minkin described him as an icon who was quiet and polite offstage but played brash characters onstage.

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Saluga became famous for his character, Raymond J. Johnson Jr., who wore a zoot suit and smoked a cigar. He would get triggered when someone called him “Mr. Johnson” and launch into a rant with his famous catchphrase, “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me…” before going on to list every possible permutation of his name and ending with, “…but you doesn’t have to call me Johnson!”

Saluga’s character gained national attention in the late 1970s after appearing in beer commercials for Miller Lite and Anheuser-Busch. He also made appearances on various talk shows and TV shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill, where he teased his Johnson character.

Saluga’s famous catchphrase was even referenced by musician Bob Dylan in his 1979 hit song “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

Bill Saluga is survived by his nephew in Youngstown, Ohio.