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?'

Gabrielle Ray – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Friday 21st September 1934



Memories of the Great Actresses and Stage Beauties of Twenty and Thirty Years Ago



WHAT has become of those people whom we delighted to watch on the stage twenty, twenty- five, and thirty years ago? Their names used to blaze forth in light in front of the theatres. The shop windows in those days were full of their postcards. Their faces appeared on the chocolate boxes, and all the world and his wife went to see them. Some, of course, survive and are big stars drawing capacity houses still. Many are dead, but many are still living, happy and prosperous. They have left the footlights for the fireside. You see them from time to time in restaurants and very often they go to first nights. That is where the playgoers show their loyalty and long memory. The old favourites, as soon as recognised, get hearty applause from the pit and gallery. The theatre public does not forget.

Although such a short time has elapsed between the cessation of the silent films and the triumph of the talkie, one wonders how many people to-day could name quickly twenty big people of the silent screen. Yet any theatre-goer will reel you off scores and scores of actors and actresses whom he remembers, although he has not seen or even heard of them for years.

You have not forgotten Ada Reeve. You remember her with her incisive style and general smartness in “Florodora,” if ou have forgotten much else, Some of you may remember her in a very charming play called “Winnie Brooke, Widow.” Few artists could sing a song with more point than Ada Reeve. A great personality – a woman of treat charm. She is still working and appears in South Africa and Australia with success. Perhaps one day London will see her again.

Many of you remember “The Dairymaids,” and if you remember “The Dairymaids” you will remember Carrie Moore. She left the stage to get married, and settled in Australia. A few months ago she was over here, happy and prosperous, doing a round of the theatres.

One of the most photographed beauties of her day was Miss Gabrielle Ray. Probably more picture postcards of this blonde beauty were sold than of any other actress. “Gabs” Ray was a Gaiety girl – a real one. She was beautiful to look at – slim and lovely, and she was one of the few actresses who had a really distinctive carriage and walk. She wasn’t a great singer but she could dance. When she appeared in pyjamas in “The Orchid” all London went to see her. She had a number, the chorus of which went:-


“She’s a pink pyjama girl all pink and rose

She’s a lovely little lady to adore.

If she’s a pink pyjama girl she’s all rightee

And she’ll never wear her nightie –

Any more.”


Not a great lyric, but it caught on. Perhaps it compares with some of the crooners’ stuff to-day such as:-


“Hocus pocus, Mr. Magician,

Won’t you bring my baby back to me?”

 Pyjamas for women were a novelty in those days and the gilded youth of the day stared its eyes out. Gabrielle Ray is married now and lives mostly in the country. She is some times, though rarely, seen at first nights, but when she appears in a restaurant old admirers flock round her.

Whilst on the subject of clothes, everyone remembers “A Little Pink Petty for Peter,” Gracie Leigh’s song in “Miss Hook of Holland.” Gracie was a great comedienne. She scored her triumphs at the Prince of Wales’s, the Adelphi, and elsewhere, Her husband, Lionel Mackinder, an excellent actor and a grand fellow, joined up the s moment war broke out and was the first actor to be killed in the Great War. Gracie Leigh never quite recovered from this. To-day she lives in a country cottage and is seldom seen. The stage misses her. There is nobody to-day quite like her.

At a first night of a musical comedy recently a little woman with fair hair was smiling excitedly and shaking hands with some friends. She was delighted to see Tom Reynolds, the producer, who happened to be there. It was Pauline Chase, perhaps the best known “Peter Pan” of them all. She is happily married. She lives in Sussex and she has a family, but there is still that same elfin charm about her.

ONE of the great stars of the Gaiety, a girl who reached “stardom” there in practically one night and who afterwards starred in many other theatres, is now the Dowager Countess of Dudley. Gertie Millar was the supreme example of what a musical comedy artist should be. Sing, act or dance, she could do it all. Her entrance to the stalls to-day brings the house to its feet. She still looks just the same, in spite of the title.

If you remember faces and are observant and happen to be at a matinee in the West End you will very likely see sitting near you one of the loveliest women that ever trod the British stage. Hers was another face that adorned the postcards, a face that everybody knew and which compelled admiration – Mabel Love – still beautiful, still attractive, still sees all the shows and very often brings along her daughter, who is a replica of what her mother was at that age.

Another lovely and gracious figure that was the idol of the public – a girl who set a fashion and burst in upon London at the Shaftesbury Theatre. At the never-to-be-forgotten first night of “The Belle of New York” Edna May was the talk of the town. She retired on her marriage, but she still goes frequently to the theatre and she still gets her round of applause. Nobody can remember “The Belle of New York” without remembering Edna May. This was a star who really burst into greatness overnight. Before “The Belle of New York” was produced nobody had heard of her. Next day she was Lon don’s greatest sensation. To-day you would know her at a glance.

One of the most magnetic personalities on the stage for many years became famous at the Palace Theatre. Teddie Gerrard was the embodiment of all that was daring. They even wrote her a song called “Naughty Naughty One Gerrard.” People went mad about her. There wasn’t so much talk about sex appeal in those days, otherwise she would have been im mediately coupled with it.

Teddie is another one who has retired. She has a nice little place in Surrey, with a charming house and quite a bit of ground. She has a villa in Capri and she lives surrounded by beautiful things, and she likes nothing better than to get old friends around her and to remember old times. Nor has she lost one fraction of her great attraction – she is still as compelling as ever.

THE name of Teddie Gerrard recalls that blonde 1 beauty, Gina Palerme. She was a great contrast to Teddie but she was a very beautiful woman. After her days at the Palace she put on a musical show at the Duke of York’s Theatre. So large was the company and so many were there in the chorus that they had not enough dressing rooms, and the chorus had to cross the roof of the theatre on a specially made wooden gangway and dress in two of the rooms comprising the flat which stands at the top of the Duke of York’s Theatre. Gina Palerme lives in Paris to-day.

Olive May, that dark, attractive dancer and soubrette, married into the peerage. She is a regular first-nighter and you will see her pictures under her married name in all the smart papers.

Elsie Janis, one of the really great stars, left the stage when “Mother” Janis died and went into the directing and writing side of the pictures. She is as clever at that as she was on the stage. A year or two ago she surprised all her friends by getting married. She still lives at Phillipse Manor at Tarrytown, New York. This is one of the oldest houses in America. It was built by a Captain Phillips, an officer in the British army, and for some time during the American War of Independence was the Headquarters of George Washington. Elsie adores her beautiful home and divides her time between it and the studios.

Two unforgettable stars whom one frequently sees on the public side of the footlights are Lily Elsie and Joe Coyne. Those who saw it will never forget the first night of “The Merry Widow.” Both of them, of course, were famous before then, but from then on they were on top of the world. Lily Elsie left the stage but has returned now and again to give us a sight of that elegant beauty of hers and it is to be devoutly hoped that she will come back again. She goes to all the shows and people lock around her.

JOE COYNE, one of the most youthful of our actors, must lever be allowed to retire. He is as quick and agile to-day as he was in the days of the “Widow.” He is always walking – he lives at a West End Hotel, and you can see him speeding round and round the Park with the carriage and gait of a boy of 17. Most days you can catch a glimpse of him in one of the most popular West End cafes. He will be eating ice cream, and lots of it. He is one of the great youths of the stage.

Another gracious and beautiful figure with a sweet face and a gentle manner still goes to all theatres. Occasionally she makes appearances on the screen, but you will always find her smiling, happy and proud, surrounded by flowers, in a box to watch her husband Seymour Hicks when he produces a new play. Ellaline Terriss, probably the sweetest natured woman that ever walked the British stage. Still everybody’s sweetheart.

These names spring to the memory. There are many more still living happily and still remembered by those who used to see them. For the public does not forget.

Going a little further back the name of Rosie Boote springs to one’s mind. This famous Gaiety Girl has never lost her love for the theatre. The Marchioness of Headfort to-day, and looking every inch a Marchioness, she is a regular first-nighter.

The beautiful Mary Anderson, one of the loveliest actresses ever seen upon the stage, now lives in happy retirement in very suitable surroundings in the lovely village of Broadway.

Mrs. Kendal, one of the really great names of the English stage, is now Dame Madge Kendal, retired many years, but she still takes the greatest interest in the welfare of her profession. She is always to the fore in any work of charity or in any movement that will alleviate the lot of the chorus girls or the people in the humbler walks of stage life.

Under the joint management of Mr. and Mrs. Kendal scores of great actors and actresses graduated. She and her husband ruled them with a rod of iron, but they made them work and they taught them their business.


LOVELIES OF THE LONG-AGO: Five famous stage beauties of the early part of this century. From the top are Ada Reeve, Gabrielle Ray, Pauline Chase, Gertie Millar and Mabel Love


ELSIE JANIS AND MRS. JANIS: The great Palace star (left) with her manager-mother – from an early photograph. Since the death of Mrs. Janis, Elsie, who is American, has been directing and writing for films.


STARS OF THE PAST: Five more stage beauties of earlier days, from contemporary postcard photographs. From the top are Edna May, Teddie Gerrard, Olive May, Lily Elsie and Ellaline Terriss


The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Friday 21st September 1934

An interesting article but given the publication date the author is incorrect about Miss Ray as she had divorced in 1914.


April 12, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment