Gary Gray (actor)
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|Born||Gary Dickson Gray
December 18, 1936
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||April 4, 2006
Brush Prairie, Washington, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale|
Born in Los Angeles, California, Gray was the son of to Jeanie Ellen Dickson and John William Gray, aka Bill Gray, a film business manager. On January 28, 1961 he married Jean Charlene Bean. The couple had four daughters and 19 grandchildren.
It was two clients of his father's, Bert Wheeler and Jack Benny, who suggested that Gray should be used in films. Gray made his film debut in the Joan Crawford film A Woman's Face in 1941, and played minor roles in such popular films as Heaven Can Wait (1943), Gaslight (1944) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). In the 1944 short feature I Am an American he played Thomas Jefferson Kanowski, son of fictional Polish immigrant Fydor Kanowski. He played more substantial roles in films such as Return of the Bad Men (1948) with Randolph Scott, Gun Smugglers (1948) with Tim Holt, Rachel and the Stranger (also 1948) with Robert Mitchum, and Wild Heritage (1958) with Maureen O'Sullivan.
On April 17, 1956, Gray was cast as sixteen-year-old Jackie Jensen, later a major league baseball player, in "The Jackie Jensen Story", which aired on the NBC anthology television series, Cavalcade of America. Jansen played himself as an adult; Vivi Janiss was cast as Jansen's mother.
By the time he graduated from high school Gray had appeared in more than 70 films, however as an adult his acting roles were fairly few, and were mainly for television. By the early 1960s, he had retired from acting and concentrated on raising his family.
Business career and later life
In 1960, Gray started a swimming pool maintenance and repair business. For the last twenty-five years of his thirty-eight years in the swimming pool industry, Gray worked for two of the major international manufacturers of swimming pool equipment as territory, regional, and national sales manager. Gray was a sought-after speaker and educator for the "National Spa and Pool Institute" as well as by the "Independent Pool and Spa Service Association". Gray retired from the swimming pool industry in July, 1999.
Gray collected tapes of his movies and television programs, as well as stills, posters, and lobby cards from his acting career. Beginning in the mid-90s, he was a frequent guest at film festivals throughout the United States. He enjoyed visiting with his fans, and relating many interesting stories from his lengthy career. Gray played golf as a hobby.
- Rachel and the Stranger (1948)
- Return of the Bad Men (1948)
- The Next Voice You Hear... (1950)
- Rodeo (1952)
- The Party Crashers (1958)
- The 16 minute film, I Am an American, was featured in American theaters in connection with "I Am an American Day" (now called Constitution Day). I Am an American was produced by Gordon Hollingshead, written and directed by Crane Wilbur. Besides Gary, it featured Humphrey Bogart, Dick Haymes, Danny Kaye, Joan Leslie, Dennis Morgan, Knute Rockne, and Jay Silverheels. See: I Am An American at the TCM Movie Database and I Am an American at the Internet Movie Database.
- "The Jackie Jensen Story on Cavalcade of America". Internet Movie Data Base. April 17, 1956. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- Goldrup, Tom and Jim (2002). Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Film and Television. McFarland & Co. pp. 103–112. ISBN 1476613702.
- Holmstrom, John (1996). The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich: Michael Russell, p. 199-200.