Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Ralph Reichenthal, 7 October 1901, NYC; d 23 October 1942) Pianist, songwriter. His parents moved to Newark NJ; he won a scholarship to the Institute of Music Art in New York, but caved in to family pressure and became a lawyer, working for a law firm in Newark for two years. In 1926 he left the law and became half of a two-piano team in a Broadway revue, Queen High. He played in other revues, and also played in bands including Paul Whiteman's, changing his name (suggested by his wife's maiden name, Rains). He became Clifton Webb's accompanist (the suave actor of later years was then a song-and-dance man) and wrote a song with lyricist Howard Dietz called 'Moanin' Low' for The Little Show, and torch singer Libby Holman made it Rainger's first hit.
Rainger died in a bizarre accident. He was flying to New York on business in a DC-3 which was 'buzzed' by the pilot of a B-34 bomber, who caused a collision; everyone died on the DC-3, but the U.S. Army exonerated the bomber pilot.
(Some of the info in this entry came from an article by Doug Ramsey in the Wall Street Journal.)