Elwyn Creighton Raffetto was born in Placerville, California, the son of John Augustus Raffetto, a hotelier and banker, and Adela Creighton. (His grandparents, Domenico Raffetto and Anna Pensa, came first to nearby Newtown, California, from Ognio, a mountain village northeast of Genoa.) He graduated cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall in 1925. He practiced law in San Francisco until 1928, when he directed drama at Berkeley as well as Los Angeles' Greek Theatre
Raffetto pitched a program concept to NBC Radio’s Tom Hutchinson in San Francisco. He went on to star, direct, and produce the show, called Arm of the Law. Soon after, he became the network’s West Coast program director through 1933. During that time, he produced Death Valley Days (1930).
In 1946, he also directed Michael Shayne, Private Detective.
Although he approached radio through programming, directing, and producing, Raffetto's career took off in acting.
In 1932, writer Carlton E. Morse, with whom Raffetto had already collaborated, created One Man's Family. Raffetto landed the lead role as the family’s eldest son, Paul Barbour, a fighter pilot wounded in World War I. NBC Radio first broadcast the show on April 29, 1932. Raffetto stayed with the show through 1956 (and the show ended on May 8, 1959). Paul Barbour ended many episodes with the line “That's how it is with the Barbours today."
In 1939, Morse started ‘’I Love a Mystery’’ with three cast members from One Man’s Family, including Raffetto as Jack Packard, "a soft-spoken, taciturn hero in the best traditions of the West." Together with characters Doc Long (a "brawling womanizer") and Reggie York (a "proper Englishman"), the threesome formed a team of "specialists in adventure."
“After the first several years," Raffetto often "substituted" for creator Morse, "directing and writing while he was away.”
Raffetto also starred in Death Valley Days (1930) and Attorney for the Defense (1944).
Raffetto’s second wife was sculptor Constance Murray Raffetto (a “Californio” descended from Eulalia Perez de Guillen Marine).
Raffetto suffered from tuberculosis for much of his life. He had to leave radio twice to recover. Morse often picked him up from the hospital to act. “He’d drive me home, or I’d take the train back to the hospital,” Raffetto later said. At times, episodes were broadcast from Raffetto’s bedside.
After leaving radio in 1956, Raffetto and his wife lived in Spain and Italy until 1960. During that time, he wrote unpublished works, including a family history.
Raffetto died of throat cancer at his home in Berkeley. At the time of his death, he had four daughters and five grandchildren.
Raffetto’s radio work lasted from 1930 to 1956 and included:
Raffetto acted in small roles as early as the silent film era in films like ’’Tillie's Punctured Romance’’ starring W. C. Fields. He continued to in the 1940s and 1950s, including major films like ‘’A Foreign Affair’’ (1948) with Marlene Dietrich and ‘’Storm Center’’ (1956) with Bette Davis.
Raffetto’s film work lasted from 1928 to 1957 and included:
Raffetto’s television credits include:He's a Trooper: A Comedy-Drama in 3 Acts (copyrighted but unpublished)