I recently facinated viewed gruff speaking Aldo Ray in pseudo noir picture NIGHTFALL (1957) Directed by Jacques Tourneur . The way this fellow moved with economy of motion, stood tall, and what was so important in pictures of that day is that he wore his clothes well. Ray never actually played football but he was a Navy frogman during World War two seeing action at Okinawa. He went along to an audition with his brother Guido for a 1951 football film SATURDAYS HERO. Turned out that Director David Miller was more interested in him than his brother because of his raspy voice. Ray got the role of a cynical college football player opposite John Derek and Donna Reed in the Columbia Pictures production plus a exclusive contract inspite of having no acting experience. He was to appear in several films under his birth name of Aldo DaRe.
Aldo Ray’s career was launched as he was cast in 1952 opposite Judy holiday in the George Cukor film THE MARRYING KIND and PAT AND MIKE with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. His thick neck and large frame aided his a tough, sexy roles for that time became his trademark. Cukor once told him that he moved like a ‘football player’ and suggested that he take ballet lessons. He was nominated for a “Best Newcomer” award for the Golden Globe awards that year along with Robert Wagner only to lose out to someone called Richard Burton. Ray made a picture with Rita Hayworth called MISS SADIE THOMPSON in 1953. Columbia pictures boss Harry Cohen wanted Ray in the role of Private Robert Prewitt in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY(1953) but Director Fred Zinnemann insisted on Montgomery Clift.
In 1955, Ray featured in starring roles in BATTLE CRY, THREE STRIPES IN A SUN, MEN IN WAR and one of his best-loved films, WE’RE NO ANGELS (1955), in which he starred with Humphrey Bogart Peter Ustinov, Basil Rathbone and Joan Bennett. He tried his hand or rather voice as a radio personality on the hit music station WNDR New York.
In personal life Aldo Ray settled in Crockett California after military discharge with his wife Shirley Green where he was elected as Town Constable.They had one child, a daughter named Claire The marriage ended in divorce in 1953 as did second union to actress Jeff Donnell which also ended in divorce in 1956
By the dawn of the 1960s, Aldo was most often typecast as the tough guy, capitalizing on his husky good looks and gravelly voice. Another iconic role came Ray’s way as he played SGT. Muldoon along side John Wayne in THE GREEN BERETS.(1968) plus appearance in various televsion shows such as BONANZA. He married Johanna Bennet, who continues to work today under the name Johanna Ray, as a respected Casting Director. They were divorced in 1967. Aldo grew tired of the ‘macho redneck’ roles plus the quality of the stories in 60’s yet he still worked in some less then notable films as character attitudes changed.
In the 1980s as Ray was diagnosed with throat cancer and would take any job including non sexual roles in porngraphic films to pay for his costly health insurance. His SCREEN ACTOR GUILD card was revoked when it was found out he was working on non union productions. However ex wife Johanna Ray, a longtime collaborator with David Lynch, cast her son Eric with Aldo in Lynch’s 1990 TWIN PEEKS television series, as well as the movie FIREWALK WITH ME released in 1992. Ray also appeared in 1991 horror picture SHOCK’EM DEAD with Tracie Lords and Troy Donohue.
Aldo Ray retured to Crockett California with his mother, family and friends where he passed away in 1991.
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