Ray Vecchio was raised a Catholic in the city of Chicago along with his brother (who is mentioned only in the episode A Hawk and a Handsaw, and never named or seen) and two sisters Maria and Francesca. The Vecchio family lived at 2926 North Octavia Avenue, a Victorian-style house in Chicago's Norwood Park neighbourhood. Ray's father was a gambler who would drink and constantly belittle his son; he spent most of his time playing pool at Fanelli's local pool hall and would come home late or not at all. His mother was a generous homemaker and a good cook who did not approve of her husband's pool addiction. Ray Vecchio's father died of unknown causes in 1989 at the age of 68 and bequeathed his house to Ray, who then became the family patriarch.
In Pizzas and Promises, it is mentioned that Ray drowned Francesca's pet hamster when they were children, only one incident in a long pattern of sibling rivalry between them. Nonetheless, Ray remains very protective of Francesca well into their adulthood.
In high school, Ray played on the basketball team; in the series, he is still a basketball fan and still plays the game on occasion. He had many love interests in his teenage years, including Anne MacRae who would become a nun, and Irene Zuko. Irene Zuko was the sister of high school bully Frank Zuko, son of a mafia don and a classmate of Ray's with whom he did not see eye to eye. As related by Ray in The Deal, they played pick-up basketball together after school until Frankie beat up one of Ray's friends for losing a game. Zuko would grow up to become a Chicago mob boss.
Raymond Vecchio was hired by the Chicago Police Department's 27th district in 1985, and was still a beat cop in June of 1986 according to dialogue from the Pilot. His Italian culture allowed him to understand the Mafia's inner workings and he would often pretend to be part of the Mob to get information. His relatives were sometimes of assistance in his investigations. It is unclear when he was promoted to detective, though he notes in The Duel that his first supervisor, Lieutenant William Kelly, thought enough of him to attend to his promotion. His supervisor in the series, Lieutenant Harding Welsh, is tough but fair, either rewarding or reprimanding Ray as appropriate for his work.
Vecchio's detective work took an interesting turn in 1994 when he met RCMP Constable Benton Fraser who had come to Chicago as liaison officer on the trail of his father's murderer. The two men would often work together and Fraser's extensive knowledge and unique abilities would be of great help in their investigations. Ray habitually mispronounced the Mountie's surname "Frazier" and often called him "Benny." Though Fraser's odd habits and unorthodox style tended to annoy Ray profoundly (to the point where Ray called him "the most irritating man in the world"), they became close friends as well as partners. Despite several references to the slow progress of Ray's career, he was promoted to detective first grade during the show's second season.
In 1997, Vecchio moved to a deep undercover assignment in Las Vegas, impersonating Mob lieutenant Armando "the Bookman" Langoustini who had recently died in a car crash, and whom Ray strongly resembled. Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski would take his place at the Chicago police station and masquerade as him, in order to protect the actual Ray Vecchio's identity from being discovered by mob operators.
Vecchio took part in a final investigation alongside Fraser and Kowalski in a weapon smuggling affair involving Langoustini in 1999, during which he intercepted a bullet meant for Fraser during a lengthy gun battle with the smugglers. This turned out to be his "golden bullet", allowing him to retire from the police force with full pay. During his recovery, he met Kowalski's ex-wife Stella. They fell in love, moved to Florida and opened a bowling alley together.
Investigation Methods Edit
Ray Vecchio's favoured method for obtaining information is the undercover method; he either assumes a criminal's identity for a long period of time as he did from 1997 to 1999 in Las Vegas, or lets the underworld believe he is one of them by hiding his true identity as a detective in the district he works in. Benton Fraser once declared: "I'm not as familiar with the art of subterfuge as you are." Vecchio also claims he has the ability to recognize offenders' noses by remembering each nose's distinctive shape.
Personal Life Edit
For several years Ray was married to a woman named Angie (played by David Marciano's real-life wife, Katayoun Amini), though they grew apart and divorced some time before the start of the series. Angie appeared in One Good Man and The Duel, showing that she and Ray are still friends and still care for one another. He has tried on and off to find a suitable woman since then, amassing a great many names and outdated phone numbers in his black book. In You Must Remember This, Ray falls in love with a woman who saves his life after a traffic accident; he is then forced to investigate her connection to an arms dealer until she turns out to be an undercover ATF agent, and she never appears again.
One bone of contention between Ray and Angie was Ray's $5,000 purchase of his dream car, a rare 1972 Buick Riviera (which is incorrectly called a 1971 model in most episodes). He is interminably fond of the vehicle; even though he claims it to be "irreplaceable," he nevertheless finds an exact replacement on two occasions when the car is blown up. (Fraser forced him to sacrifice the first in The Man Who Knew Too Little to end a gunfight; the second was destroyed by a car bomb in Juliet is Bleeding, in an attempted mob hit on Ray.)
Ray still lives in his father's house with his mother and sisters, along with Maria's husband Tony and their children. He sometimes plays poker with his friends, either for actual gambling, or simply to kill time on a stakeout.