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gary gray

The son of a motion picture business manager, Gary Dickson Gray was destined to become a child star.  Encouraged to put the kid in pictures by his clients, including Jack Benny, the elder Bill Gray registered him with Central Casting and the Screen Childrens' Guild.  It wasn't long before Gary landed his first part, as a young boy smiling at Joan Crawford (her disfigured face recently repaired through plastic surgery) in "A Woman's Face," filmed in 1940 but released in 1941.

In late 1941, trade papers revealed that Harry "Pop" Sherman had "discovered" the boy, and would put him under contract and feature him in the next Hopalong Cassidy oater.  Unfortunately, this didn't occur, as it was around the time that Hoppy left Paramount and went to United Artists.
Gary continued to work in small roles until he got his first big break--in 1947.  Jimmy Hunt couldn't handle the dialogue in RKO's all-star "Return of the Bad Men."  Gary had been at the studio, earlier in the day, at an audition.  When calling his home, his mother had to reveal she didn't know where he was (he was playing sand lot baseball).  Eventually Gary was located and began work on the film the very next day.  It was in the buckboard scene, and Gabby Hayes taught the lad a very important lesson--if you can't see the camera, it can't see you!
Another child's misfortune led to the biggest break of Gary Gray's career.  Later in 1947, Dickie Tyler outgrew the role of Young Davey in RKO's "Rachel and the Stranger."   Both Bobby Driscoll (fresh from his smash hit in "Song of the South") and Gary tested for the part opposite Loretta Young, who personally selected Gary for the part!  From then on, he would go from picture to picture.
Gary Gray has the distinction of being the only child to have his own series of shorts--the "My Pal" shorts with Flame, a German Shepard.  He replaced Ted Donaldson, who had starred in the initial entry, and continuted in the films throughout their entire run, 1948--1951.  Other kids have appeared in shorts, but Gary remained the only one who starred--solo--in his!
Another child's bad luck was always good luck for Gary.  Bobby Hyatt was selected to play Johnny in "The Next Voice You Hear..." but three other boys were outside, waiting to be given a reading.  When Gary did his stuff, they took Bobby out and gave Gary the role--and a term contract with MGM.
After starring with the original Lassie in that canine's last film, the Technicolor "The Painted Hills" (1951), Gary began to freelance. 
It was now teenage time, and Gary preferred to go to a regular school (Van Nuys High) as opposed to studio schools or Hollywood Professional.  It was here that Gary excelled in sports--in particular gymnastics and swimming.   He also belonged to a car club, typical of a 1950s teenager.
After graduating, Gary returned to pictures big time, going from one TV show to another, with an occassional feature thrown in.  However, in 1960, there was the notorious Writers' Strike, which lasted many months, throwing actors out of work for what seemed forever.  In 1960, Gary had met Jean Bean, and fallen in love.  With no picture prospects, he decided to give up his career and start his own Swimming Pool Supply and Repairs business.  He stayed in this industry for 40 years, eventually retiring from Sta-Rite in 1999.
Today, Gary Gray resides in the small town of Brush Prairie, Washington, where he is the father of four daughters and 20 grandchildren.

At a Glance

Date of Birth:  December 18, 1936 in Los
Angeles, California

Education:  some college

Family History:  father, Bill Gray, was a business manager for people in the motion picture industry, including Jack Benny

First Professional Role:  that of a little boy, who smiles at Joan Crawford in "A Woman's Face" (filmed in 1940--released in 1941).  Crawford's disfigured face had recently been repaired through plastic surgery

Astrological Sign:  Sagitarrius