Rene Ray, Countess of Midleton

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Rene Ray
Rene Ray.jpg
Born Irene Lilian Creese
(1911-09-22)22 September 1911
London, England
Died 28 August 1993(1993-08-28) (aged 81)
Jersey, Channel Islands
Spouse(s) George Brodrick, 2nd Earl of Midleton

Rene Ray, Countess of Midleton (22 September 1911 – 28 August 1993) was a British stage and screen actress of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and also a novelist.

Acting career[edit]

She made her screen début in the 1929 silent film High Treason and first appeared on the West End stage on 5 December 1930 in the André Charlot production of Wonder Bar at the Savoy Theatre.[1] In 1935 she starred with Conrad Veidt in the Gaumont British film The Passing of the Third Floor Back. Other film co-stars included George Arliss (His Lordship, 1936), John Mills (The Green Cockatoo, 1937), Gordon Harker (The Return of the Frog, 1938) and Trevor Howard (They Made Me a Fugitive, 1947).

At London's Lyric Theatre in 1936 she appeared with Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson in JB Priestley's short-lived play Bees on the Boat Deck. Other West End credits included Yes and No (1937), They Walk Alone (1939) and Other People's Houses (1941).[2] Her single Broadway appearance was in Cedric Hardwicke's production of Priestley's An Inspector Calls, which ran at the Booth Theatre from October 1947 to January 1948.[3] In 1951-52 she starred in the London production of Sylvia Rayman's Women of Twilight, playing the central role nearly 450 times and reprising her performance in the subsequent film version.[4]

She made her last screen appearance as an interviewee in the BBC documentary Britain's Missing Movie Heritage, broadcast on 30 September 1992, 11 months before her death.[5]

Books[edit]

She turned to writing for much of her later career. Her first novel, Wraxtoon Marne, appeared in 1946.[1] According to a 1953 magazine profile, "Her second book, Emma Conquest, was an immediate best-seller."[6] (First published in 1950, this was reissued in 2010.) Other books included A Man Named Seraphin (1952) and The Tree Surgeon (1958). In 1956 she scripted the seven-part ATV science fiction serial The Strange World of Planet X; the following year her novelisation was published by Herbert Jenkins Ltd and a feature film based on it was made by Artistes Alliance. In the USA the film was renamed Cosmic Monsters.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Her father was Alfred Edward Creese, a famous British automotive and aviation inventor.[8] Born as Irene, she signed her name with a grave accent on the first 'e', not an acute accent on the second (Rène not René); her method was followed on all theatre programmes, book jackets and other publicity material.

Her first husband was the composer George Posford.[9] In the 1950s she met George St John Brodrick, 2nd Earl of Midleton (1888-1979); she moved with him to Jersey in 1963 and became his third wife in 1975, thus allowing her to style herself the Countess of Midleton.[8] In retirement she became an accomplished amateur painter and a member of the Jersey Film Society, which in 1986 opened its 40th season with a screening of The Passing of the Third Floor Back.[8] She died in 1993.

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 'Rene Ray dies at 81' [obituary], New York Times 6 September 1993
  2. ^ http://theatricalia.com/person/qek/rene-ray
  3. ^ http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=12862
  4. ^ Frances Stephens, Theatre World Annual (London), Rockliff Publishing Corporation, 1952
  5. ^ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/148?view=credit
  6. ^ 'Meet Rene Ray: The Girl They Passed By', Answers (week ending) 10 January 1953
  7. ^ http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/strange_world_of_planet_x_the
  8. ^ a b c Michael Rhodes, 'The Countess of Midleton' [obituary], The Times 3 September 1993
  9. ^ Famous Film Stars No 21: Rene Ray, R and J Hill Ltd [cigarette card] 1938

External links[edit]