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?'

Roy Sambourne – The Tatler – Wednesday 5th August 1931

Mrs. Oscar Lewisohn and Mr. Roy Sambourne and “Queenie.”

A very excellent snapshot in one of our rare sunny intervals at Mongewell Park, Wallingford. Mrs. Oscar Lewisohn is better known to the world as Edna May,

and Mr. Roy Sambourne is a son of the famous black-and-white artist, the late Lindley Sambourne.

 The Tatler, Wednesday 5th August 1931

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April 19, 2017 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Roy Sambourne, Social History, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roy Sambourne – The Tatler – Wednesday 12th June 1935

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Roy Sambourne, Social History, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roy Sambourne – The Tatler – Wednesday 3rd December 1930

Mrs. Oscar Lewisohn, who will ever be Edna May to her public, and Mr. Roy Sambourne, a son of the famous Lindley Sambourne, the artist,

were having an out of season game of croquet at Mr. Howard Gould’s beautiful home, Mongewell Park, near Wallingford.

The Tatler,  Wednesday 3rd December 1930

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Roy Sambourne, Social History, The Tatler | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray

I have posted these pictures before but the quality wasn’t very good, I have since asked a friend to make a few improvements.

Roy Sambourne

October 17, 2013 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Roy Sambourne, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roy Sambourne

I recently discovered “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946” by Shirley Nicholson, on the Edna May site; Well worth a visit for Edna May fans, the owner Charles Pasco also has links to other sites about Edwardian actresses such as Lily Elsie, Maude Fealy and Gabrielle Ray (sadly not mine). Charles has also recently published Edna May – Superstar.

Shirley Nicholson’s book was difficult to obtain as the publishers The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT are relatively small but with their assistance I eventually purchased a copy from Leighton House Museum & The Orangery Gallery. Copies can also be obtained through the author.

The author, Shirley Nicholson kindly sent me some copies of Gabrielle Ray on holiday with Lily Elsie and Roy Sambourne which are used in her book. The quality isn’t very good as they are copies of “holiday snaps” rather than professionally produced images. Ms Nicholson suggests that the pictures may have been taken by Bertie Stern, a close friend of Roy’s as they often holidayed together.

I have not attempted to rewrite or précis this account but rather highlight the diary entries made by Roy Sambourne that refer to Miss Ray.

Roy Sambourne was the son of Linley Sambourne, an artist who worked for the Victorian illustrated magazine “Punch” for forty years. He was born at his parent’s house 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington and except for brief periods of absence lived in this house all of his life. Today it remains as he left it, passing from his family to The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Roy’s mother, Marion Sambourne wrote that “she was worried that her son had inherited none of the ambition and capacity for sustained hard work which had made his father so successful” [1] Nicholson adds “All Roy ever wanted to do was have a good time with the minimum amount of effort. This may not be an unusual attitude among the young, but Roy was never to grow out of it; Life carried him along, while he made no effort to shape its course” [2] This appears to be partly a fair assessment of Roy’s attitude to life but we quickly see that although he often failed to “seize the moment” and be decisive he was a generous gentleman and a good friend to those whom he liked.

Whilst at Eton Roy spent many of his holidays with friends attending sporting events and the theatre, with little time for any serious study. His subsequent entry to Oxford was only through a family connection rather than scholastic merit. Roy’s interest in the theatre may have begun with his collection of photographs of the actresses which used to decorate his rooms at Oxford, proudly writing to his parents that he was the envy of all his friends who kept dropping in to admire his collection [3] One particular actress who caught Roy’s attention was Edna May, an American actress who starred in “The Belle Of New York”. Nicholson writes that “he fell violently, and of course, unsuitably – in love which was to last for many years and continued, albeit in a more muted form until his dying day [4] Although Roy did meet Edna May and became good friends he lacked the finances to be considered a serious suitor. This period of the theatre saw admirers’ lavish expensive gifts on individual actresses. Bouquets were a frequent gift often with rings, bracelets, necklaces and other pieces of jewellery. [5]

Many of Roy’s diaries appear to have been lost and only brief accounts of his liaisons remain from note made in later life. He seems to have had a series of “female friends” but none were maintained for more than a few months and few brought him any true happiness. Roy wrote, in a nostalgic mood of his affection for a series of women, first and foremost Edna May, Lily Elsie and “Gabs”, the biggest failure of all. He remembered them fondly and took pride in being closely associated with three of the brightest stars of the theatre [6]

During the early 1900’s Roy and Bertie Stern regularly went out as a foursome with Elsie (Lily Elsie) and Gabs. From 1903 to 1911, (before her marriage to Eric Loder in 1912) the years when her beauty was at its peak she was considered to be Bertie’s girl. Nicholson wrote that Bertie lavished an enormous amount of money on her but they often quarrelled and parted acrimoniously several times. Roy frequently found himself acting as mediator and a shoulder to cry on. Nicholson adds that it is unclear whether Roy was in love with Gabrielle but his loyalty to Bertie would have precluded this [7]

                                                                                       

     

These pictures were taken from Roy’s scrap book  and show Roy on holiday in Bognor Regis with Lily Elsie and Gabrielle Ray at Whitsun 1906

 

This signed picture was given to “dear Sammy” by Gabrielle Ray, 1907 and can be found at 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington.

Bertie and Gabs finally parted in 1911; everyone agreed that both parties had behaved badly, Gabs for wanting nothing but money and Bertie for indulging her for so long. Roy was inclined to take Gabs part and for a short time the two were very close, but she was a gold-digging type who urgently required a wealthy protector. No sooner had she sold one lot of jewellery than she began to amass another; so after making the usual inroads on Roy’s heart she was off once more without a backward glance [8]

Gabs and Eric Loder married in March 1912 but this was short lived, The Times (29th July 1913) reported that the respondent (Eric Loder) left the petitioner (Gabrielle Loder) on January 13th 1913 and went to Scotland. He returned to London on February 10th and asked her to have his letters sent to his club.

The marriage was finally dissolved on 15th February 1915

Nicholson wrote “He (Eric Loder) too indulged her every whim for a while, but when the union ended in angry recriminations Roy’s help was once again enlisted, this time to ease her through the trauma of divorce.Roy also found himself in the unenviable position of being made a trustee for the eventual divorce settlement.”

For the next fourteen months Roy was carried away by Gabs display of affection; however Roy describes her as selfish, extravagant and demanding and any attempts to change her behaviour was doomed to failure. She continued to flirt with every man in sight and to spend as much as ever. After several painful quarrels and reunions the final break up came in the spring of 1915. Roy reflected “Gabs has behaved towards me in a most heartless manner and would have bled me white if she could. Still when all is said and done there is something very attractive about her and I should be sorry to see her go absolutely to the devil” Although their love affair was over they remained good friends. [9]

 

      

These pictures of Gabrielle Ray were taken on holiday in Babbacombe 1915 and are from Roy’s scrapbook.

Following Roy’s split with gabs they met several times during 1916 for luncheon or a night out. Roy wrote “Gabs looks older but dresses beautifully as ever, sables, diamonds and emeralds. Round at Hippodrome and sat in Gabs dressing room for hours. Get photos and kiss the dear little thing”. Writing later, “How I enjoyed my leave and Gabs”. In December he saw her again. “Gabs and I dined at the Carlton together. She is fast losing her looks – in two or three years her career will be over and I fear for her. I must stick by her and try to see her through” [10] When gabs was nice to him she was “Dear little wonderful Gabs” and he could be persuaded to lend her some money, but at other times her behaviour was “rotten” and he felt a flare of jealousy when she flirted with others under his nose.

Vivian Pollock fell under her spell in 1917 but she treated him the same way as all the others. By the end of the war no fewer than four of Roy’s friends had come to him in lovelorn despair, begging for advice from a former sufferer. Roy had little comfort to offer maintaining that she must enjoy herself while she could, her time would not last much longer. Despite this Roy still had a soft spot in his heart for Gabs. The tangled web of her affairs continued to occupy his thoughts for many years. [11]

Roy lost touch with Gabs after the war but in June 1921 they met again. “Vivian and I to Palladium, see Gabs in her dressing room. She is painted up ready to go on, we round to front to watch her show, not bad”

The Palladium 22nd June 1921

By a strange chance Bertie also in the house. We arranged to meet at the Embassy, big crush there. Gabs has blossomed out in all her jewels and tries desperately hard to coquette as she did in her heyday. She played her old games of making up to Vivian at my expense – why she habitually does this is a puzzle. It is the usual procedure of a girl in her twenties but at 38 one would expect a woman to grow out of it. Her performance is pathetic but she is very pleased with herself. She flourished bank notes about and has a luxurious car. How long this will last is problematical, 2 or 3 years perhaps and then poverty. She gives me back my £25 in an envelope never again will I lend her a farthing. [12]

Gabs had no notion of economy and was often hard up, but her unique brand of wheedling charm remained in tact. In spite of his vows never give her another penny Roy usually found himself parting with £20 or so on the few occasions that they met. In December 1929 she rang to say that she was in funds for once and would he call to see her. “To Devonshire Hotel to see Gabs after four years and three months” he wrote, “She looks pretty and just her old self. We have cocktails and she insists on standing me dinner. Where does she get the money from? We go to Mayfair and have a long talk over old days. She praises my dancing. I greatly enjoy the evening. Home by 2.30” Five years later they met again, “Gabs looks her 52 years but is well turned out. Her come down in life is rather sad after the old days, when she was the centre of attraction. Now she is forgotten and hard put to exist”.

Although Roy always said that Gabs would come to a bad end she managed to survive in fairly good trim for much longer that he expected. But it was still a shock when he received a letter from her brother in November 1936 saying she had been ill – too much drink was thought to be the cause – and had tried to kill herself by jumping from a window. She was now committed to an asylum: “To Holloway Sanatorium to see Gabs. Ghastly building, Gabs weeps all the time. I am upset and thankful to leave” Shortly afterwards she was de-certified and went to a small private rest home: as her trustee Roy had to deal with the financial problems and he tried hard to drum up support from her old admirers. Bertie produced £50 but not one of the others was prepared to help. Gabs, penniless and friendless was returned to Holloway. Roy steeled himself for another visit in June 1937. “Gabs in a pitiful state most distressing, and hangs round me. A dreadful 2 ½ hours there. When I think what she has been it is terrible” He never went to see her again. Gabs was to outlive all those who had once loved her; forgotten by the world she died in 1973, aged ninety [13]

After reading Roy’s account of his visit to Miss Ray in 1937 I was very disappointed with him; although having worked for over 30 years with people who had varying degrees of mental impairment I can understand and sympathise that he couldn’t bear to watch her decline in Holloway. I contacted the author to see whether Roy wrote anything further but he didn’t. She described Roy as “basically a wear character, he talks often about doing good deeds of various kinds but nothing much ever comes of it. He was so appalled at the state of Gabs that he probably tried never to think of her again”

Roy’s accounts, many relating to Miss Ray were written several years after the event and a theatre historian, who has been researching the Gaiety Girls for over 20 years, suggests that some of Roy’s recollections may have been “coloured” by his own failings and missed opportunities. He also added that during his research he hasn’t found any evidence to support Roy’s claims about Miss Ray. From my own limited research I discovered that receiving gifts of jewellery etc from admirers wasn’t uncommon [14] I also contacted a descendent of Miss Ray’s (who recently commented about my blog) about the relationship with Eric Loder but she declined to respond.

East wrote, when he visited Miss Ray “the past is a total void and the talk is of other things” [15]   and one wonders whether the disappointment of being abandoned by “friends” made recalling her Gaiety years too painful?

It is however ironic that in 1973, one month before her death Gancia used Miss Ray in one of their wine adverts.

East wrote, “Early that evening there was a gasp of admiration as an enchanting vision of loveliness floated onto the stage, with large blue eyes and a heart shaped face framed in a mist of burnished golden hair. She moved with graceful fluidity; her dancing was such that her feet scarcely touched the boards. This was Red Riding Hood herself. Her success was assured from that first entrance. An unknown artist Gabrielle Ray, nineteen years of age was on the threshold of her dazzling career” [16] and perhaps, as we admire her postcards and pictures that is how we should remember her, a bright star of the Gaiety era.

 

References;

[1] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.8 – 9)

[2] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.9)

[3] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.13)

[4] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.11)

[5] Maqueen-Pope, W. (1949) “Gaiety, Theatre of Enchantment”, W.H. Allen,London. (p. 394) (A Remarkable Gift)

[6] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.25 – 26)

[7] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.28 – 29)

[8] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.33)

[9] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.36 – 37)

[10] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.39 – 40)

[11] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.40)

[12] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.49 – 50)

[13] Nicholson, S. (1999) “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946”, The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (p.93)

[14] Jupp J. (1923) “The Gaiety Stage Door, Thirty Years Reminiscences of the    Theatre” J. Cape,London (p.65)http://www.archive.org/details/gaietystagedoort00juppuoft (Accessed 26th   September 2011)

[15] East, J.M. (1967) “’Neath the Mask: The Story of the East Family”, George Allen and Unwin Ltd,London. (p146)

[16] East, J.M. (1967) “’Neath the Mask: The Story of the East Family”, George Allen   and Unwin Ltd,London. (p146)

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Divorce, Eric Loder, Gabrielle Ray, Roy Sambourne, Social History, The Palladium, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gabrielle Ray – 1907

This signed photograph of Miss Ray was given to Roy Sambourne in 1907.

Roy Sambourne is the subject of, “An Edwardian Bachelor, Roy Sambourne, 1878 – 1946” by Shirley Nicholson; Published by The Victorian Society, 1 Priory Gardens, London.W4 1TT (1999).

The photograph can be found at 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington and a copy appears in Ms Nicholson’s book, p.25. After contacting Ms Nicholson she kindly sent me some other copies of photographs of  Miss Ray which also appear in the book. I am grateful to Ms Nicholson for her generosity; candid pictures of Miss Ray are rare despite the many postcards and professional pictures published during her popularity as a performer.

Sambourne had an on – off relationship with Miss Ray which is documented in his diaries and forms the basis of Ms Nicholson’s book.

September 3, 2011 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Photograph, Roy Sambourne, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment