Carol Raye

Carol Raye (born Kathleen Corkery[1] 17 January 1923) also billed as Carole Raye, is a retired English-born actress of film, television and theatre, comedian, singer, dancer and radio and television producer and director.

Carol Raye
Kathleen Mary Corkery

(1923-01-17) 17 January 1923
London, England
  • Actress
  • singer
  • dancer
  • comedian
  • producer
  • director
Years active1938–1999
Spouse(s)Captain Clark Spence (1945-?) Robert Ayre Smith (1951-2006(;husband's death)
Children3 (including Sally Ayre Smith TV producer
Parent(s)R.B Corkery (father)

She started her career in the United Kingdom in theatre and television and starring film roles. After emigrating to Australia in 1962, she became best known for her television and there in serials and TV films, later returning to theatre roles after joining the Theatre Board of the Council of Australia.

Early years

The daughter of a Royal Navy Commander R. B. Corkery and his wife,[1] Raye was born in London and trained as a ballet dancer. She was discovered by choreographer Freddie Carpenter[2] at age 16[3].

Career in England: Film and stage

Raye played lead roles in many musicals and television production in her native Britain. Her theatre roles included Funny Side Up, Fun and Games[3], The Merry Widow[4], Dear Miss Phoebe[5] and The Ticket-of-Leave Man. Raye also starred in Song of Romance (the first British musical Technicolor film)[6] as well as in the films Strawberry Roan(1944) and Waltz Time (in which she sings)(1945) and the 1947 While I Live(1947) and Green Fingers.(1948)

Career in Kenya

Raye remarried in 1951[7], accompanying her second husband as he travelled the world with his work. She worked as producer/director for Kenya Broadcasting Corporation from 1961 to 1964.

Career in Australia

The family emigrated to Australia in 1964, and Raye got a job working as an assistant to the General Manager at ATN7, that same year and devised the idea for a satirical television series. Starting in November 1964, Raye was one of the three original stars of the highly popular and influential sketch comedy television series The Mavis Bramston Show, with Gordon Chater and Barry Creyton. She also produced the pilot episode and co-produced the series (with Michael Plant), until her departure from the programme in late 1965. She resumed work on the series for the 1967 and 1968 seasons. The series ended in 1968.[8] In 2014, Raye then 91, wrote to Kerry Stokes, requesting a DVD release of the iconic series.

In the 1970s Raye played the ongoing comedy role of much-married socialite and Baroness Amanda von Pappenburg in the top-rated soap opera Number 96. After two substantial stints with the series in the 1973–74 period, Amanda was permanently written out of the serial, and she switched to the role of Creative Director for the show's producers. This busy role involved the casting of main regular characters, along with reviewing the scripts and storylines of Number 96.[9]

Raye subsequently acted in the medical soap opera The Young Doctors, playing the guest role of Rosalie Parker, in 1977. She was also a regular panelist on Graham Kennedy's Blankety Blanks (1977–78) and a regular on The Mike Walsh Show. She acted in television and film roles through the 1990s, and into the 2000s with appearances on SeaChange and in commercials.

In the early 1980s, Raye had a four-year appointment with the Theatre Board of the Australia Council.[10] She also appeared in many Australian theatre productions including California Suite, Pleasure of His Company, Travelling North, The Merry Wives of Windsor, You Can't Take It With You, Noises Off and Hay Fever.[8] Raye was a subject of This Is Your Life.

Personal life

On November 3, 1945,[1] Raye married[11] US Army Engineer Captain Clark Spencer, a "prominent Winchester and Marblehead sportsman" (Massachusetts, USA).[6]

In 1951 she married prominent veterinarian Robert Ayre Smith[7]. They had three children, two of whom followed their mother into theatrical roles. Eldest child Sally Ayre Smith is also a retired TV producer, best known for the ABC series SeaChange[12], but is now a director of an organic farm produce marketing business.[13] Youngest daughter Harriet started her career in the Sydney Theatre Company office[10] and is also a sometime actress.[14] Robert died in 2016.[7]



  1. "Spencer". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. 29 January 1946. p. 30. Retrieved 5 June 2019 via
  2. "Freddie Carpenter". IMDB. Amazon. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  3. Hales, George (6 August 1941). "Carol Raye". Getty Images. Getty. Retrieved 9 June 2019. Dance producer Freddie Carpenter, who has joined the RAF, trains dancer Carol Raye on his day's leave. ... Raye will make her debut as a star in the new show 'Fun and Games' at the Prince's Theatre.
  4. """The Merry Widow" - The Girl Who Stops the Show"". Picture Post. London, England. 19 (8): 18–19. 22 May 1943. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  5. "Carol Raye". IMDB. Amazon. Retrieved 9 June 2019. Personal Details - Other works: She acted Harry Parr-Davies's musical, "Dear Miss Phoebe," at the Phoenix Theatre in London, England with Peter Graves in the cast.
  6. "British Movie Actress, Bride of Winchester Captain". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. 29 January 1946. p. 1. Retrieved 5 June 2019 via
  7. "Livestock Expert Made a World of Difference in International Aid". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2019. In London, he met his future wife, Carol, through friends and they were married in 1951.
  8. Atterton, Margot. (Ed.) The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Australian Showbiz, Sunshine Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86777-057-0 p 185
  9. "The Baroness Turns Executive". TV Week. 25 October 1975, page 25.
  10. Clare, John (27 March 1982). "Will the Liberal Party steal Carol Raye?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia, New South Wales, Sydney. p. 47. Retrieved 5 June 2019 via
  11. "FORMER WINCHESTER BOY WED TO ENGLISH ACTRESS". Winchester Star. 1 February 1946. Retrieved 9 June 2019. Among the English war-brides trying to make arrangements for passage to the United States is Carol Raye, English film star, who is married to a former Winchester boy, Capt. Clark Spencer, U.S.A. Engineers, currently on his way home from the ETO. Married in England. Nov. 3, 1945, Capt. and Mrs. Spencer have been living at Whitelands House, Chelsea. England.
  12. "Sally Ayre-Smith". IMDB. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  13. Brown, Jamie (18 September 2016). "Sustainable direction for film producer". The Land. North Richmond, NSW: Fairfax. Retrieved 9 June 2019. Marcus has already built a pole and mud-brick ranch style home for Sally’s parents – Robert who worked as a veterinarian in Kenya before coming to Australia with his screen siren wife Carol Raye, who actually gave up a promising London career in front of the camera to be with her husband in east Africa.
  14. "Harriet Ayre-Smith". IMDB. Amazon. Retrieved 9 June 2019. Actress, Punk in Disco, Queen of the Road (TV Movie)

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