Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Miss Gabrielle Ray

Hello out there! I do apologize if I have been a bit scarce once again these past weeks. I am in the process of moving so my time is spent either working, packing stuff up, or sleeping. Hopefully when I get down there everything will have calmed down. Although, two days after I arrive I start my new job, so, yeah. A lot at once!

Let us focus on all that is good and beautiful and in this case that is going to be another beautiful Edwardian actress, Gabrielle Ray. Bonus for her/me...we share the same birthday!! Awesome fact is awesome!

Gabrielle Ray was born Gabrielle Elizabeth Clifford Cook on April 28, 1883 in Cheadle, Stockport, England. She was the fourth child of William and Anne Cook.

She began appearing on the stage at age 10 and started touring with various shows. Some of the shows she appeared in included Little Red Riding Hood, Sinbad the Sailor, and The Belle of New York.

Gabrielle became a favorite of the English audiences who enjoyed her acting and her dancing. It also helped that she had a beautiful face that made her an artist and photographer's dream. Even the King of Portugal was a fan!

Like her contemporary, Lily Elsie, Gabrielle also appeared in The Merry Widow starting in 1907. She was with that show for over 700 performances! She wowed the audiences with her dance numbers in the show, doing all kinds of flips and turns while on top of a raised table no less! The girl could bring the house down.

Gabrielle briefly retired from the stage in 1912 to concentrate on her personal life, but when that didn't go as smoothly as she had hoped, she returned to her stage career three years later. One of her return appearances was at my favorite place, The Hippodrome!

Her last stage performance was as Mother Goose during a Christmas performance in 1920.

In the years following her retirement from acting, she began to suffer from depression and sliding into alcohol abuse. In 1936, she suffered from a mental collapse and had to be institutionalized for over forty years.

Gabrielle Ray passed away on May 21, 1973 while still in the sanatorium.

She was buried at Englefield Green Cemetery in Surrey, England.

Gabrielle was married once, to Eric Loder in 1912. It was clear that the marriage was doomed from the start when she didn't even show up to their first wedding ceremony. There are a rumors as to why the very well attended first wedding didn't take place. First, Gabrielle was mad that Loder wouldn't sign a pre-nup so she refused to go through with the wedding. The second rumor is that she was too freaked out to get married in front of thousands of people and preferred to have a small, private ceremony. Either way, they did eventually get married...and then divorced two years later.

On top of being a great actress and dancer, she was also an astute business woman. Instead of fan magazines and posters and things we have now to admire our favorite celebrities, the Edwardian audiences had postcards and Gabrielle appeared on quite a few. She and Lily Elsie both signed exclusive photo contracts for a postcard series, but it was Gabrielle who negotiated a commission that was four times more than the one given to Lily.

** Some of the information for this entry was from two wonderful sites that cover Gabrielle Ray and other amazing actresses from the Edwardian era. Please check them out and oooh and aaah over what they have to offer. Gabrielle     Ray


  1. An interesting summary but to add a little more information Miss Ray was the fourth of six children and her first performance, although very short lived was in "Maimi" She had a sister Gladys Raymond also an actress, who marries into the Churchill family but sadly also does in a psychiatric hospital. Her Final performance was as "Maid Marian" in "Robin Hood or Babes in the Wood" at the King's Theatre Edinburgh, December 1921.She also performed at the London Palladium in 1921 but I don't know how long that engagement lasted.

    Her grave in Englefield Green Cemetery is now in the care of the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America and is part of their refurbishment programme as it is in a sad and sorry state which I found quite upsetting when I recently visited it.

    My blog Gabrielle Ray http://summertime76.wordpress.com/ has a selection of cuttings, pictures and postcards from my collection

  2. I forgot to add that during the early part of her career she performed under the stage name of "Bessie Ray", later as the "Sisters Ray" and finally as the "Rays of Sunshine"

  3. What a beautiful girl. It is so sad that she spent all those years in a sanitarium. Nowadays she would have been given much better treatment and placed on the proper medicine.

  4. Thank you Summertime for the extra info! With moving and Gabrielle's being a stage star rather than a movie star, it was a bit different for me. I really appreciate the extra information for sure. It is very sad to hear that her grave wasn't in great shape. You would think there would be someone out there who remembers her and wants to keep her final resting place looking nice.

  5. Hi Jessica,
    I know you are super busy but everything will be fine.Your move won't be too chaotic and you will do great at your new job! May I make a suggestion for two ladies: Peg Entwistle and Marian Nolan (she became know as the "California Venus"). You get info on Marian Nolan and her tragedy end, if you typed in "California Venus".
    Thank you

  6. Thank you Theresa! Things are calming down a bit, but I am still working like a dog at my new job.
    Peg would be a great entry. Such a sad/interesting story. Marian Nolan on the other hand, I have never heard of. It kinda makes me think of Mary Nolan and Marian Nixon. I will definitely look her up! Thanks for the suggestions!