Gabrielle Ray

'Gabrielle Ray said, 'I am always dancing; I love it! When I don't dance, I sing. What else is there to do?'

The Postcard Fiend – 1909

Important Announcement

A Series of Interesting Articles

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Monday 26th July 1909 announced that they had secured an interesting series of articles specially written by a number of famous men and women of the day which would appear every Saturday, commencing on 31st July 1909.

Each article would be introduced by a short descriptive paragraph about the author, giving biographical or other details and the author’s portrait. The Proprietors claimed to have spared no trouble or expense to ensure that the articles offered amusement, interest and in some cases would be of “real educational value.” Miss Ray’s article “The Picture Postcard Fiend” would appear on Saturday 16th October.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Monday 26 July 1909

The Picture Postcard Fiend

By Gabrielle Ray

(Special to the “Devon and Exeter Gazette.”)

Miss Gabrielle Ray has for so long held pride of place as the picture post-card favourite that she undoubtedly knows more about the picture post-card fiend than any other actress, About her theatrical career very little need be said, for her beauty and her great charm of manner have kept her in the front rank of popularity for so long that her successes are familiar to all. In London and the provinces alike she is recognised as a musical comedy star of the first magnitude, and it is safe to say that her presence in the cast of “The Merry Widow” was far from being the least of the causes of the great and continued success of the production.


I have not the least idea who it was that first invented the photographic post-card, but I often wonder whether he had been jilted by an actress and had set about the task of finding a way to be revenged, not only upon her but upon the whole profession. If so he succeeded beyond his wildest expectations, for picture post-cards have become a burden under which I and others on the stage must toil, groaning, upon our daily round.

The fortunate individuals whose portrait is not on post-cards can hardly understand, perhaps, how greatly it adds to the working hours of and actress if her picture is displayed in this way in shop windows all over the world. For in these days when everybody collects something or other, from birds’ eggs to buttons, the number of persons who lay up unto themselves a store of picture post-cards is legion, and the result is that one’s ordinarily meagre postbag is transformed into a receptacle of huge dimensions.

By every post and every foreign mail there flows in a stream of post-cards to which one’s autograph is required until one wonders where it is going to end. I do not believe a day ever passes without at least fifty cards reaching me with requests for my signature. And fifty only represents an off day too. They come from all over the world, and almost tempt one – if they were not in themselves such an object lesson – to collect stamps.

Indeed this seems to have occurred to a correspondent of mine who wrote to me recently to say that as he was sure I must be the recipient of letters from all over the world, and as he was an enthusiastic collector of postage stamps, could we strike a bargain by my giving him all the stamps in exchange for his services for one hour a day to act as my Secretary in answering the letters.

But, really, it is most remarkable how widely these post-cards are circulated. I have received them from all sorts of far-off and outlandish places, of which, off hand I may mention Japan, China, India, Germany, and pretty well all the Continental countries, South Africa, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland.

Of course, the largest number come from nearer home, and, of all the towns in this country, more are dispatched from London than anywhere. But, then London is far more populous than any other town, which accounts for this. I think that, in proportion to population, I receive more post-cards to sign from places like Aldershot, Woolwich, Colchester, and other garrison towns. Indeed, Tommy is one of my most regular correspondents, and probably causes me more embarrassment than all the rest from his habit of sending me picture post-cards of myself, not to sign and return, but to bear me complimentary or loving messages from him, upon which his admiration is expressed in crude and open terms.

“Dear Miss Gabrielle,” said one I had lately, “am writing as how I think it mite interest you to know as how I fort Blocky Brown last night because he said he did not think as how you was the likelyest lady on the boards. I beg to say as I have blotched his face a bit more for him now, and he is quite of my opinion about yourself, which believe me, yours respectful –. P.S – If you come to this town soon shall thank you kindly miss, in anticipation of receiving a couple of tickets.”

I find that the number of post-cards one receives for signature vary very much according to the piece one is in, the songs one sings, and to the dresses one wears, which naturally make a big difference between a good photograph and a poor one. Often the popularity of some song I happen to be singing at the moment will double the daily number of post-cards I receive. In fact, I remember one case recently in which there was a jump from 20 post-cards by Monday morning’s post to 130 by the following Monday’s post. I have appeared in a new piece meanwhile.

By far the most amusing picture post-card collectors are children. Hundreds of little boys and girls all over the country are at the present time striving to acquire a complete collection of every picture post-card of myself that has ever been issued, and they constantly write to me for assistance. I never, when referring to the picture post-card fiend, include my delightful child correspondents, for their communications provide me with an endless round of amusement and pleasure which I should be sorry to forgo. Only the other day a little boy wrote to inform me that I was his bestest sweetheart, and that he was saving all his pennies so as to be able to marry me when he grew up.

I had a very amusing letter from a schoolboy. “Dear Miss Ray,” it ran, “all the chaps at my school think you are simply ripping, but none of the other chaps think you are half so ripping as I think you are. I shall be a prefect next term, and have a study of my own, and I mean to paper the walls with photographs of you, and I want to know if you will sign them for me. I have measured the walls, and find it will take about 800 post-cards to do it nicely; but I’m sure to get a fiver from pater on my birthday, and will send them on to you for you to sign. Won’t it make the other chaps green?” I’m thankful to say I never did receive that parcel of 800 post-cards, so I suppose the expected “fiver” did not turn up after all.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 16th October 1909

The Merry Widow – (Rotary 11700 A)


June 15, 2016 - Posted by | Actress, Autograph, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Social History | , , , , , , ,


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