Robert Bray

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Robert Bray
Lassie with actor Robert Bray.jpg
Born (1917-10-23)October 23, 1917
Kalispell, Montana, U.S.
Died March 7, 1983(1983-03-07) (aged 65)
Bishop, California, U.S.
Cause of death Gunshot wound, accidental
Alma mater Lincoln High School (Seattle)
Occupation American film and television actor
Years active 1946–1967
Spouse(s) Joan Loretta Bray (m. 1960, div. 1968)[1]
Dorothy A. Dekiewit (m. 1972, div. 1973)[2]

Robert E. Bray (October 23, 1917 – March 7, 1983) was an American film and television actor probably best remembered for his role as the forest ranger Corey Stuart in the long-running CBS series Lassie. He also starred in The Lone Ranger and Stagecoach West.

Life and career

Bray was born to homesteading parents in Kalispell, Montana. The family moved to Seattle, Washington, where Bray attended Lincoln High School. After graduation, he was for a time a lumberjack, a cowboy, and a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1942, Bray joined the United States Marine Corps and saw action in the South Pacific during World War II. He finished the war at the rank of master sergeant and then aspired to become a taxidermist or the owner of a hunting/fishing lodge.[citation needed]

Instead, Bray entered films in 1946 under contract to RKO. He was marketed as the "next Gary Cooper" but appeared in B Westerns like 1949's Rustlers. In the 1950s, the then freelancing actor appeared in a varied number of roles including the 1952 episode "Thunder Over Inyo" of the syndicated western television series The Adventures of Kit Carson.

In 1954, he portrayed bandit Emmett Dalton in an episode of Jim Davis's syndicated western Stories of the Century. That same year, he guest-starred in Reed Hadley's CBS crime drama, The Public Defender. On December 4, 1955, he was cast as petroleum pioneer Pattillo Higgins in "Spindletop – The First Great Texas Oil Strike (January 10, 1901)" on the CBS history series, You Are There, the story of the origin of the Texas oil industry.

In 1958, he starred in Never Love a Stranger, a film adaptation of a Harold Robbins novel that also featured Steve McQueen.

Bray guest-starred in the episode "Obituary" of NBC's western series, Jefferson Drum, starring Jeff Richards, and in the 1959 episode "The Trouble with Tolliver" of the ABC western drama, The Man from Blackhawk, starring Robert Rockwell as a roving insurance investigator. Vaughn Taylor was cast in the title role as Jeremy Tolliver.[3]

He appeared twice on ABC's The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, with Hugh O'Brian in the title role.

Bray was cast as Carl the Bus Driver in Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe (1956) and as detective Mike Hammer in My Gun Is Quick (1957). Other roles were on NBC's western anthology series, Frontier and on Rod Cameron's syndicated series City Detective and State Trooper.

Early in 1960, Bray was cast as Tom Byson, with Beverly Garland as Dr. Nora James, in the episode "Three Graves" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. In the storyline, mystery shrouds three mysterious recent graves in a town along the Mississippi River. Townspeople refuse to discuss what happened, but speculation centers on an epidemic.[citation needed]

In the 1960–1961 television season, Bray played Simon Kane, along with Wayne Rogers as Luke Perry and Richard Eyer as David "Davey" Kane, Simon's son, in the ABC series Stagecoach West, a black-and-white production of Dick Powell's Four Star Television. Bray and Rogers portrayed the co-owners of the Timberland Stage Line which carried passengers from Missouri to San Francisco during the 1860s.[4]

He starred in three episodes of NBC's western Laramie between 1960 and 1963. He appeared in three episodes of CBS's Perry Mason. In 1959 he played Private Detective and murder victim Carl Davis in "The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll." In the 1962 episode, "The Case of the Angry Astronaut," he had the role of title character and defendant Mitch Heller; and in 1963 he portrayed wealthy murder victim Martin Walden (Episode 180, "The Case of the Potted Planter"). He also guest-starred in NBC's Temple Houston (TV series), Overland Trail, and The Loretta Young Show. He appeared in four episodes of CBS's anthology suspense series Alfred Hitchcock Presents between 1958 and 1961. In 1958, Bray was offered a supporting role in director Joshua Logan's film adaptation of South Pacific, but he decided instead to star in low-budget films for Allied Artists. It was a strategic error in his career, for South Pacific became a smash success.[citation needed]

In 1964, Bray won the role of USFS Ranger Corey Stuart in Season 11 of Lassie because of his affinity for animals and their reciprocity toward him. Stuart, according to the plot, acquired Lassie after the former owners, the Martin family (played by Hugh Reilly, June Lockhart, and Jon Provost), moved to Australia. Lassie's life then grew more exciting with rescues and adventures in the national forest setting.In Season 12 Lassie went to color film, and for the following two season afterwards Ranger Corey Stuart and Lassie shared their adventures in living color with their TV audiences. On three episodes, Bray appeared with former child actor Bobby Diamond of NBC's Fury. In Season 15 (1968) Bray was written out of the series as a victim of a forest fire and his character was sent away to a hospital never to return.[5] Bray was replaced by two younger rangers played by actors Jack DeMave and Jed Allan who billed themselves as "Lassie's godfathers" on the series.

Bray and his wife, Joan, retired to Bishop, California, in the Sierra Nevada. He was often seen in his Winnebago in Bishop with his dog "Lady". Bray was a fly fisherman, hunter, model duck carver, and all-around sportsman.[citation needed]

Death

He spent his last years in the High Sierras where he had made many of his early western films. Bray died at the age of sixty-five from a gunshot wound sustained while out hunting alone. His death was ruled to be accidental.[6] His ashes were scattered over Zuma Beach in Malibu, California.[citation needed]

Selected filmography

References

  1. ^ Intelius People Search – Public Records, Background Checks & More
  2. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/821/000345783/
  3. ^ "The Man from Blackhawk". Classic Television Archives. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ Stagecoach West
  5. ^ Lassie Star
  6. ^ Cole Porter by William McBrien (ISBN 9780679727927) p312

External links

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