Robert Bray

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Not to be confused with Robert Bray (British Army officer).
Robert Bray
Lassie with actor Robert Bray.jpg
Born (1917-10-23)October 23, 1917
Kalispell, Montana, USA
Died March 7, 1983(1983-03-07) (aged 65)
Bishop, California
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Cremation
Alma mater Lincoln High School (Seattle, Washington)
Occupation American film and television actor
Years active 1946–1967
Spouse(s) Joan Loretta Bray[1]

Robert E. Bray (October 23, 1917 – March 7, 1983) was an American film and television actor probably best remembered for his role as the forest ranger Corey Stuart in the long-running CBS series Lassie. He also starred in The Lone Ranger and Stagecoach West.

Life and career[edit]

Bray was born to homesteading parents in Kalispell, Montana. The family moved to Seattle, Washington, where Bray attended Lincoln High School. After graduation, he was for a time a lumberjack, a cowboy, and a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1942, Bray joined the United States Marine Corps and saw action in the South Pacific during World War II. He finished the war at the rank of master sergeant and then aspired to become a taxidermist or the owner of a hunting/fishing lodge.[2]

Instead, Bray entered films in 1946 under contract to RKO. He was marketed as the "next Gary Cooper" but appeared in B Westerns like 1949's Rustlers. In the 1950s, the then freelancing actor appeared in a varied number of roles including the 1952 episode "Thunder Over Inyo" of the syndicated western television series The Adventures of Kit Carson.

In 1954, he portrayed bandit Emmett Dalton in an episode of Jim Davis's syndicated western Stories of the Century. That same year, he guest-starred in Reed Hadley's CBS crime drama, The Public Defender. On December 4, 1955, he was cast as petroleum pioneer Pattillo Higgins in "Spindletop - The First Great Texas Oil Strike (January 10, 1901)" on the CBS history series, You Are There, the story of the origin of the Texas oil industry.

In 1958, he guest-starred in the episode "Obituary" of NBC's western series, Jefferson Drum, starring Jeff Richards.

Bray guest-starred as Marcus Clagg in the 1959 episode "The Trouble with Tolliver" of the ABC western drama, The Man from Blackhawk, starring Robert Rockwell as a roving insurance investigator. Vaughn Taylor was cast in the title role as Jeremy Tolliver.[3]

He appeared twice on ABC's The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, with Hugh O'Brian in the title role.

Bray was cast as Carl the Bus Driver in Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe (1956) and as detective Mike Hammer in My Gun Is Quick (1957). Other roles were on NBC's western anthology series, Frontier and on Rod Cameron's syndicated series City Detective and State Trooper.

Early in 1960, Bray was cast as Tom Byson, with Beverly Garland as Dr. Nora James, in the episode "Three Graves" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. In the storyline, mystery shrouds three mysterious recent graves in a town along the Mississippi River. Townspeople refuse to discuss what happened, but speculation centers on an epidemic.[4]

In the 1960-1961 television season, Bray played Simon Kane, along with Wayne Rogers as Luke Perry and Richard Eyer as David "Davey" Kane, Simon's son, in the ABC series Stagecoach West, a black-and-white production of Dick Powell's Four Star Television. Bray and Rogers portrayed the co-owners of the Timberland Stage Line which carried passengers from Missouri to San Francisco during the 1860s.[5]

He starred in three episodes of NBC's western Laramie between 1960 and 1963. He appeared in three episodes of CBS's Perry Mason. In 1959 he played Private Detective and murder victim Carl Davis in "The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll." In the 1962 episode, "The Case of the Angry Astronaut," he had the role of title character and defendant Mitch Heller; and in 1963 he portrayed wealthy murder victim Martin Walden (Episode 180, "The Case of the Potted Planter"). He also guest-starred in NBC's Temple Houston (TV series), Overland Trail, and The Loretta Young Show. He appeared in four episodes of CBS's anthology suspense series Alfred Hitchcock Presents between 1958 and 1961. In 1958, Bray was offered a supporting role in director Joshua Logan's film adaptation of South Pacific, but he decided instead to star in low-budget films for Allied Artists. It was a strategic error in his career, for South Pacific became a smash success.[2]

In 1964, Bray won the role of Corey Stuart in Lassie because of his affinity for animals and their reciprocity toward him. That same year, Lassie went to color film. Stuart, according to the plot, acquired Lassie after the former owners, the Martin family (played by Hugh Reilly, June Lockhart, and Jon Provost), moved to Australia. Lassie's life then grew more exciting with rescues and adventures in the national forest setting. On three episodes, Bray appeared with former child actor Bobby Diamond of NBC's Fury. Bray was replaced in 1968 by two younger rangers. The storyline attributes the end of Bray's role to injuries that the character sustained while fighting a forest fire.[6]

Bray and his wife, Joan, retired to Bishop, California, in the Sierra Nevada. He was often seen in his Winnebago in Bishop with his dog "Lady". Bray was a fly fisherman, hunter, model duck carver, and all-around sportsman.[2]

Death[edit]

He spent his last years in the High Sierras where he had made many of his early western films. After his death at the age of sixty-five from a heart attack, Bray's ashes were scattered over Zuma Beach in Malibu, California.[2]

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]