Birthdate: Thursday, January 3rd, 1907
Location: Neath, Wales, UK
Died: Monday, March 10th, 1986
Location: Torrance, California, USA
Cause of death: Lung cancer
Best known for: Actor and director who never quite made it to the top flight of screen stars, but was ever dependable in classics such as The Lost Weekend (1945, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe), Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954) and of course his own The Ray Milland Show aka Meet Mr McNutley (1953-55).
As the 1950s gave way to the 60s, Ray's screen acting became less common, but this was only because he was concentrating more and more on directing from behind the camera - he'd made his directorial debut with the 1955 Western A Man Alone, and soon moved into television, helming episodes of The Ford Television Theatre (1956), Suspicion (1958) and Thriller (1961). Ray was also taking roles on the stage during this time, including 1966's Hostile Witness on Broadway (a film version of which became his last directing job in 1968).
|Ray, aged 77, in 1984's Sherlock|
Holmes and the Masks of Death
As the 1970s moved into the 80s, Ray - like many stars of his stature - became something of a regular guest star on the serial drama circuit, taking roles in Battlestar Galactica (1978), Fantasy Island (1978), The Love Boat (1979) and Hart to Hart (1982/83, in which he appeared as Jennifer Hart's father).
March 1981 brought tragedy into Ray's life when his son Daniel, aged just 41, reportedly committed suicide: a rifle was found next to his body on his bed, and he had a wound to his head.
|The terrifying prehistoric monster|
in 1984's The Sea Serpent!
The special effects are lamentable - apart from the hilariously silly creature itself, a toy train is used to double as a life-size engine near the film's climax! Clips of this can be found on YouTube, and it is obvious Ray isn't too well in his scenes.
|Ray in The Sea Serpent (1984)|
It's hard to find any footage from this production, but the video can be found for sale on eBay for around $10.
Ray was apparently present at the televised All-Star Party for "Dutch" Reagan, broadcast on December 8th, 1985, to mark the 40th President of the USA's second term in office, but despite the full programme being watchable on YouTube, I can't spot him. Can you? This would have been Ray's final public appearance.
|A portrait of Ray on the sleeve of 1985's|
The Gold Key
At the time his agent Roland Leif said: "He had suffered from cancer for several years but aside from some occasional back problems, his health only began to deteriorate in the last few months." There was no funeral service, and his body was cremated.
A bit of fun: Here's Ray receiving his Best Actor Oscar for The Lost Weekend from Ingrid Bergman on March 7th, 1946 - he must have one of the shortest acceptance speeches in history, as all he says is "Thank you. Thank you very much indeed, I'm greatly honoured" - and doesn't look too sincere about that!