100th Anniversary of Ray’s First Film Appearances

The year 1919 marked the first year that Ray appeared in movies.  During his trial testimony and from other sources, Ray mentioned specific titles he appeared in at Paramount.

Ray said he was signed at Paramount after entering a Photoplay contest and while we haven’t found evidence of Ray’s contest entry and hiring at the studio, the magazine did run contests to find new starlets during that period.

Ray may have been prompted to try breaking into the movies after famous female impersonator Julian Eltinge was signed by Paramount in August 1917.  Eltinge was one of the highest paid performers on Broadway, appearing in lavish musicals from 1910 to 1917.  He starred in six features at Paramount from September 1917 to 1925.  We have no evidence that Ray knew Eltinge or worked with him during his time with the studio.

Paramount magazine advertisement featuring photo of Julian Eltinge in and out of drag.

You can see Eltinge in the All-Star Production of Patriotic Episodes for the Second Liberty Loan released in October 1917.  In the short, promoting the sale of Liberty Bonds, Eltinge appears with Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart, and Mary Pickford. 

Ray talked about several films he appeared in, doubling for Estelle Taylor and working with actors including Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, and William Boyd and director Cecil B. DeMille.

One of the earliest of the films Ray mentioned is Behind the Door, a World War I themed revenge story, released in December 1919, that is still quite shocking today for the brutal ending.  Ray, wearing a distinctive hat, may be one of the four men that shows up in the film at the 12:30 mark and in the subsequent scenes set in the Maine village.  Here’s a trailer for the recent restoration of the film.

Ray also mentioned appearing in Male and Female, a Cecil B. DeMille picture released by Paramount in November 1919.  We still haven’t spotted him in that one, but one of my friends thinks Ray might be playing the character of the Englishman with the mustache about half-way through the film.

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