Rene Ray, Countess of Midleton

Rene Ray, Countess of Midleton (born Irene Lilian Creese, 22 September 1911 – 28 August 1993) was a British stage and screen actress of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and also a novelist.

Rene Ray
Born
Irene Lilian Creese

(1911-09-22)22 September 1911
London, England
Died28 August 1993(1993-08-28) (aged 81)
Spouse(s)George Brodrick, 2nd Earl of Midleton

Acting career

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]

Books

She turned to writing for much of her later career. Her first novel, Wraxtoon 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

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 in 1993.

Selected filmography

References

  1. 'Rene Ray dies at 81' [obituary], The New York Times 6 September 1993
  2. http://theatricalia.com/person/qek/rene-ray
  3. http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=12862
  4. Frances Stephens, Theatre World Annual (London), Rockliff Publishing Corporation, 1952
  5. http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/148?view=credit
  6. 'Meet Rene Ray: The Girl They Passed By', Answers (week ending) 10 January 1953
  7. http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/strange_world_of_planet_x_the
  8. 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
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