Sally Gray

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Sally Gray
Sally Gray1.jpg
Born Constance Vera Stevens
(1915-02-14)14 February 1915
Holloway, London, England, UK
Died 24 September 2006(2006-09-24) (aged 91)
London, England, UK
Other names Baroness Oranmore and Browne
Dowager Lady Oranmore and Browne
Years active 1930–1952
Spouse(s) Dominick Browne, 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne (1951–2002) his death

Constance Vera Browne, Baroness Oranmore and Browne (née Stevens; 14 February 1915 – 24 September 2006), commonly known as Sally Gray, was an English film actress of the 1930s and 1940s.[1] Her obituary in The Irish Times described her as "once seen as a British rival to Ginger Rogers."[2]

Early life[edit]

Born Constance Vera Stevens in Holloway, London, Gray was the daughter of Charles Stevens, who drove a motor cab, and his wife, Gertrude Grace.[3] Her mother was a ballet dancer[4] and her grandmother a "principal boy" in the 1870s.

Gray made her stage debut at the age of twelve in All God's Chillun at the Globe Theatre in London, playing a black boy.

She then went back to school for two years, training at Fay Compton’s School of Dramatic Art,[5] during which time she performed in cabarets.[6] She later became well established in the theatre before embarking on a series of light comedies, musicals and thrillers in the 1930s.

Career[edit]

Gray began in films in her teens with a bit part in School for Scandal (1930)[4] and returned in 1935, making nearly twenty films, culminating in her sensitive role in Brian Desmond Hurst’s romantic melodrama Dangerous Moonlight (1941).[4] The same year she appeared in the West End musical Lady Behave which had been written by her co-star Stanley Lupino. She was off the screen for several years owing to a nervous breakdown.[2]

She returned to the screen in 1946 and made her strongest bid for stardom in a series of melodramas. They include the hospital thriller Green for Danger (1946), Carnival (1946), and The Mark of Cain (1948). She made two films that, in different ways, capture some of the essence of postwar Britain: Alberto Cavalcanti's They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) (as a gangster's moll) and the stagebound Silent Dust (1948). She also appeared in Edward Dmytryk's film noir piece Obsession (1949), in which she plays Robert Newton’s faithless wife.[5] Her final film was the spy yarn Escape Route (1952).[4]

RKO executives, impressed with Gray, authorised producer William Sistrom to offer her a long-term contract[3] if she would move to the United States. John Paddy Carstairs, director of The Saint in London, also thought she could be a star.[citation needed] However, she declined the offer and instead retired in 1952 after getting married.

Personal life[edit]

Gray married The 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne, an Anglo-Irish peer, on 1 December 1951,[3] and lived in County Mayo, Ireland.[4] The couple kept the marriage secret until the 1953 coronation, at which she appeared with her husband.[7]

In the early 1960s they returned to England and settled in a flat in Eaton Place, Belgravia, London. The couple had no children.

Death[edit]

Gray died on 24 September 2006, at 91 years of age,[5] in London, England.[8]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1930 The School for Scandal Bit Part (uncredited) [4]
1935 The Dictator Minor Role Released as Loves of a Dictator in USA, (uncredited)
Cross Currents Sally Croker
Radio Pirates
Lucky Days Alice [4]
Checkmate Jean Nicholls [4]
1936 Cheer Up Sally Gray [4]
Calling the Tune Margaret Gordon
1937 Cafe Colette Jill Manning Released as Danger in Paris in USA
Saturday Night Revue Mary Dorland [4]
1938 Lightning Conductor Mary [4]
Over She Goes Kitty
Mr. Reeder in Room 13 Claire Kent Released as Mystery of Room 13 in USA [4]
Hold My Hand Helen Milchester
1939 Q Planes Minor role Released as Clouds Over Europe in USA, (uncredited)
Sword of Honour Lady Moira Talmadge
The Saint in London Penny Parker [4]
The Lambeth Walk Sally Released as Me and My Girl in USA [4]
1940 A Window in London Vivienne Released as Lady in Distress in USA [4]
Olympic Honeymoon Miss America [5]
1941 The Saint's Vacation Mary Langdon [4]
Dangerous Moonlight Carol Peters Radetzky Released as Suicide Squadron in USA [4]
1946 Green for Danger Nurse Linley [4]
Carnival Jenny Pearl [4]
1947 They Made Me a Fugitive Sally Released as I Became a Criminal in USA [4]
The Mark of Cain Sarah Bonheur [4]
1949 Silent Dust Angela Rawley [4]
Obsession Storm Riordan Released as The Hidden Room in USA [4]
1952 Escape Route Joan Miller Released as I'll Get You in USA [4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sally Gray". 
  2. ^ a b "British rival to Ginger Rogers and wife of Lord Oranmore". The Irish Times. October 7, 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Goldman, Lawrence (2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. pp. 452–453. ISBN 9780199671540. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Tom Vallance (2 October 2006). "Sally Gray". independent.co.uk. The Independent. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Ronald Bergan (5 October 2006). "Obituary: Sally Gray". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Lentz, Harris M. III. Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 146. ISBN 9780786452118. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Sally Gray - the Actress". Pevensey and Westham Historical Society. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Aaker, Everett (2013). George Raft: The Films. McFarland. p. 154. ISBN 9780786466467. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 

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