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William Raymond "Billy Ray" Valentine is one of two the main protagonists of the 1983 comedy film Trading Places. Bill Ray was a poor man and a con artist who lived on the streets of Philadelphia. However, he then became wealthy businessman after he was used by Mortimer and Randolph Duke an experiment for Nature vs. Nurture. He is portrayed by comedian Eddie Murphy, who also portrayed Prince Akeem Joffer in Coming to America and Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop film series.
Growing up in poor home Billy Ray had to learn how to survive on streets, becoming streetwise and a con-man. One day during Christmas time, Billy Ray was pretending a blind and crippled war veteran, at the Heritage Club Billy Ray begged the wealthy brothers, Mortimer and Randolph Duke, for money, but they refused and the doorman of the Heritage Club told him to leave. While in the park, Billy Ray continued his con until he was confronted by two police officers, due to some complaints received. When Billy Ray tries to continue his con, he then claims that was in the Vietnam War, the two police officers, who were actually in Vietnam, ask where was he in Vietnam War and what division he was in. After failing to convince the officers, who then reveal him faking being crippled, Billy Ray, claims he miraculously can walk and see, and then walks away from the officers. When Billy Ray begins walking past the Heritage Club and sees a police car pull up, he walks in the opposite direction of the car and bumps into Louis Winthrope III, who works for the Duke brothers. After Billy Ray tries to give Louis his briefcase back to him, Louis falsely assumes that Billy Ray is trying to mug and calls the police for help, then Billy Ray attempts to escape through the Heritage Club, after a chase the police catch him and arrest Billy Ray. When the Heritage Club members, including the Duke Brothers, witness this, Billy Ray tries to explain that was just returning Louis' briefcase, but no one listens to him. Then Randolph Duke asks Billy Ray about his life, but Billy Ray does not want to talk him, and asks for a lawyer, who ignore him. After Louis tells police will be pressing full charges, Billy Ray is taken to jail. The next day while, Billy Ray tells lies to the others in the holding cell about how he was arrest for violent assault. But two large intimidating men, who saw Billy Ray crying when he was brought in the night before, see through his lies and try to attack him, Billy Ray then claims to a wealthy pimp and has a limousine to save himself but to no vial. Fortunately for Billy Ray a guard comes and tells him that his bail has been paid and releases him.
Once outside of the police station, Billy Ray is greeted by the Dukes, who payed his bail, and invite him into their limousine, telling him they would like to offer him a home and high paying job, although, he does not believe that at first believing it to be a joke. He is then offered the choose to get out of the car and leave, as they had also gotten the charges drop, but Billy Ray decides to stay. The Dukes bring Billy Ray to the mansion he will live in and he is introduced to the butler Coleman. After Billy is cratered to by Coleman and given new clothes, the Dukes tell him that everything the mansion belongs to him, even thought Billy Ray does not believe it at first, but the Dukes assure him it's true. Billy even breaks a vase that the Dukes had paid $35,000 for, but they also had an insurance claim for $50,000 thus making the Dukes $15,000, although they do advise to refrain from breaking anything else.