Rene Ray, Countess of Midleton

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The Countess of Midleton
Irene Lilian Creese

(1911-09-22)22 September 1911
London, England
Died28 August 1993(1993-08-28) (aged 81)
  • George Posford
(m. 1975; died 1979)

Irene Lilian Brodrick, Countess of Midleton (née Creese, known as Rene Ray, 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]

Ray 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]


She turned to writing for much of her later career. Her first novel, Wraxton 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 United States 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 on 28 August 1993 in Jersey, the Channel Islands.[10]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rene Ray Dies at 81; Actress and a Writer". The New York Times. 6 September 1993. p. 1 16. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Rene Ray | Theatricalia".
  3. ^ "An Inspector Calls – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB".
  4. ^ Frances Stephens, Theatre World Annual (London), Rockliff Publishing Corporation, 1952
  5. ^ "René Ray". BFI. Archived from the original on 24 May 2016.
  6. ^ 'Meet Rene Ray: The Girl They Passed By', Answers (week ending) 10 January 1953
  7. ^ "Media : Strange World of Planet X, The : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia".
  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
  10. ^ "Obituaries: Rene Ray". Variety. 20 September 1993. p. 42.

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