Ellen Drew

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Ellen Drew
Ellen Drew CM738.jpg
Drew in July 1938
Esther Loretta Ray[1]

(1914-11-23)November 23, 1914
DiedDecember 3, 2003(2003-12-03) (aged 89)
Years active1936–1961
Spouse(s)Fred Wallace (1935–1940) (divorced) 1 child
Sy Bartlett (1941–1949) (divorced) 1 child
William T. Walker (1951–1967) (divorced)
James Edward Herbert (1971–?)

Ellen Drew (born Esther Loretta Ray;[3][4][5] November 23, 1914 – December 3, 2003) was an American film actress.[6]

Early life[edit]

Drew, born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1914, was the daughter of an Irish-born barber. She had a younger brother, Arden. Her parents separated in 1931.[2] She worked in multiple jobs and won a number of beauty contests before becoming an actress.[7] Moving to Hollywood in an attempt to become a star, she was discovered while working at an ice cream parlor where one of the customers, actor William Demarest, took notice of her and eventually helped her get into films.[8]


Ray's venture into the movies brought about a conflict in names when she tried starting her career with the name Terry Ray which happened to be the name of another Terry Ray, a male actor. A 1937 newspaper photo showed the resolution of the conflict as "They conferred, drew lots from the hat and masculine Terry Ray became Terry Rains, while feminine Terry Ray remained as before."[9] She later tried the name of Erin Drew.[1]

After appearing in 25 features using her birth name,[10] she became a fixture at Paramount Pictures officially as Ellen Drew[1] from 1938 to 1944, where she appeared in as many as six films per year, including Sing You Sinners (1938) with Bing Crosby and The Lady's from Kentucky (1939) with George Raft. She moved to RKO in 1944. Among her leading men were Ronald Colman, William Holden, Basil Rathbone, Dick Powell, and Robert Preston (in The Night of January 16th and Night Plane from Chungking).

Her films include Christmas in July (1940), Isle of the Dead (1945), Johnny O'Clock (1947), The Man from Colorado (1948), The Crooked Way (1949) and The Baron of Arizona with Vincent Price (1950). In the 1950s, with her movie career on the decline, she worked as a television actress. Among her final roles was the part of Julia Webberly in the 1960 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Larcenous Lady".


On June 23, 1943, Drew co-starred with Agnes Moorehead and Ted Reid in "Uncle Henry's Rosebush" on Suspense,[11] and on July 25, 1943, she co-starred with Preston Foster in "China Bridge", a presentation of Silver Theater on CBS radio.[12] She also appeared twice on the Kate Smith Hour.[13]


Drew died on December 3, 2003, in Palm Desert, California of a liver ailment, aged 89.[14] She was survived by her son, David, and five grandchildren. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea.[1]


For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Drew was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, located at 6901 Hollywood Blvd.[15]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b "Ellen Drew – The Private Life and Times of Ellen Drew". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Raw, Laurence (2012). Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930–1960. McFarland. pp. 72–74. ISBN 9780786490493. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 154. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "Ellen Drew". The Indiana Gazette. Indiana, Pennsylvania. December 19, 1990. p. 4. Retrieved August 5, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ "Drew, Ellen (1914–2003)." Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Gale (2007); retrieved January 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume, Perigee Books; ISBN 0-399-50601-2, pg. 359.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Ed (June 1, 1938). "Hollywood". Harrisburg Telegraph. p. 19. Retrieved April 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  9. ^ "Ex-Raying a Name From a Hat". The Piqua Daily Call. August 14, 1937. p. 16. Retrieved April 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  10. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 204. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  11. ^ Smith, Ronald L. (2010). Horror Stars on Radio: The Broadcast Histories of 29 Chilling Hollywood Voices. McFarland. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-7864-5729-8. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  12. ^ "Ellen Drew, Preston Foster to Star on Silver Theater". Chicago Tribune. July 25, 1943. p. 4W. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ellen Drew Heads Kate Smith Cast". The Times. Louisiana, Shreveport. November 21, 1941. p. 19. Retrieved June 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Ellen Drew – Hollywood Star Walk – Los Angeles Times". projects.latimes.com. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "Ellen Drew – Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved February 26, 2018.

External links[edit]