October 23, 1917|
Kalispell, Montana, U.S.
|Died||March 7, 1983
Bishop, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound, accidental|
|Alma mater||Lincoln High School (Seattle)|
|Occupation||American film and television actor|
|Spouse(s)||Joan Loretta Bray (m. 1960, div. 1968)
Dorothy A. Dekiewit (m. 1972, div. 1973)
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
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.
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.
Bray guest-starred in the episode "Obituary" of NBC's western series, Jefferson Drum, starring Jeff Richards, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1964, Bray won the role of USFS Ranger Corey Stuart in Season 11 of Lassie because of his affinity for animals and their reciprocity toward him. 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.In Season 12 Lassie went to color film, and for the following two season afterwards Ranger Corey Stuart and Lassie shared their adventures in living color with their TV audiences. On three episodes, Bray appeared with former child actor Bobby Diamond of NBC's Fury. In Season 15 (1968) Bray was written out of the series as a victim of a forest fire and his character was sent away to a hospital never to return. Bray was replaced by two younger rangers played by actors Jack DeMave and Jed Allan who billed themselves as "Lassie's godfathers" on the series.
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.
He spent his last years in the High Sierras where he had made many of his early western films. Bray died at the age of sixty-five from a gunshot wound sustained while out hunting alone. His death was ruled to be accidental. His ashes were scattered over Zuma Beach in Malibu, California.
- Sunset Pass (1946) - Bank Clerk (uncredited)
- Crack Up (1946) - Man with Drunk (uncredited)
- Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946) - Steve (uncredited)
- Vacation in Reno (1946) - Police Guard in Bank (uncredited)
- The Falcon's Adventure (1946) - Doorman (uncredited)
- San Quentin (1946) - Saunders, a Gunman (uncredited)
- Banjo (1947) - Policeman (uncredited)
- Honeymoon (1947) - Bridegroom (uncredited)
- Desperate (1947) - Policeman with Lt. Ferrari (uncredited)
- Seven Keys to Baldpate (1947) - Policeman (uncredited)
- Crossfire (1947) - MP (uncredited)
- The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) - Official at Airline Gate (uncredited)
- Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) - Sergeant (uncredited)
- Wild Horse Mesa (1947) - Tex
- The Judge Steps Out (1947) - Truck Driver (uncredited)
- If You Knew Susie (1948) - Reporter (uncredited)
- Western Heritage (1948) - Henchman Pike
- Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) - Workman (uncredited)
- Fighting Father Dunne (1948) - Classroom Instructor (uncredited)
- Arizona Ranger (1948) - Jasper Todd
- Guns of Hate (1948) - Rocky
- Return of the Bad Men (1948) - 'The Youngers': John Younger
- Blood on the Moon (1948) - Bart Daniels
- Indian Agent (1948) - Nichols
- Gun Smugglers (1948) - Henchman Dodge
- Brothers in the Saddle (1949) - Henchman Polk Lynch
- Rustlers (1949) - Henchman Hank
- Stagecoach Kid (1949) - Henchman Clint
- The Clay Pigeon (1949) - Gunsel Blake
- Strange Bargain (1949) - Det. McTay
- Johnny Holiday (1949) - Policeman (uncredited)
- The Great Missouri Raid (1951) - Charlie Pitts
- Law of the Badlands (1951) - Benson
- Warpath (1951) - Maj. Comstock
- Overland Telegraph (1951) - Steve - Henchman
- Man from the Black Hills (1952) - Ed Roper
- The Gunman (1952) - Tom Jamison
- One Minute to Zero (1952) - (uncredited)
- Fargo (1952) - Ed Murdock
- Feudin' Fools (1952) - Private Eye
- Back at the Front (1952) - Military Police Corporal (uncredited)
- The Lusty Men (1952) - Fritz (uncredited)
- Voodoo Tiger (1952) - Maj. Bill Green
- The Maverick (1952) - Cpl. Johnson
- Seminole (1953) - Capt. Sibley (uncredited)
- The Neanderthal Man (1953) - Tim Newcomb - cattle rancher (uncredited)
- The Marshal's Daughter (1953) - Anderson
- Main Street to Broadway (1953) - Lawyer in Fantasy Sequence
- Vigilante Terror (1953) - Gene Smith
- Bad for Each Other (1953) - Trooper at Mine Accident Scene (uncredited)
- Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) - Jackson - Ranch Hand (uncredited)
- Rose Marie (1954) - Mountie (uncredited)
- Arrow in the Dust (1954) - Cavalry Corporal (uncredited)
- The Yellow Tomahawk (1954) - Lieutenant Banion
- Drums Across the River (1954) - Sheriff Ed Crockett (uncredited)
- The Caine Mutiny (1954) - Court-Martial Board Member (uncredited)
- Francis Joins the WACS (1954) - Military Police Sgt. Kreuger (uncredited)
- Shield for Murder (1954) - Detective (uncredited)
- Big House, U.S.A. (1955) - Ranger McCormick
- The Steel Jungle (1956) - Police Lt. Soberman
- Bus Stop (1956) - Carl
- The Accursed (1957) - Major Shane
- The Wayward Bus (1957) - Morse
- My Gun is Quick (1957) - Mike Hammer
- Never Love a Stranger (1958) - 'Silk' Fennelli
- Never So Few (1959) - Col. Fred Parkson
- Fiend of Dope Island (1961) - David
- A Gathering of Eagles (1963) - Lt. Col. Gales
- Intelius People Search – Public Records, Background Checks & More
- Robert Bray on Internet Movie Database
- "The Man from Blackhawk". Classic Television Archives. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- ""Three Graves", March 14, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Stagecoach West
- Lassie Star
- Cole Porter by William McBrien (ISBN 9780679727927) p312