Allene Ray

Active - 1920 - 1931  |   Born - Jan 2, 1901   |   Died - May 5, 1979   |   Genres - Comedy, Horror, Western, Adventure

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American silent-screen heroine Allene Ray (born Allene Burch) became Pearl White's replacement as the Pathé company's leading serial star in the 1920s. The company had first picked Mollie King, but King did not enjoy the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of serials and retired. The second choice, Juanita Hansen, proved a liability because of a rather public battle with drug addiction and was dropped after completing only two serials. Enter Allene Ray, whose prior experience in films was a couple of cheap Westerns produced near her hometown of San Antonio, TX. Although a retiring personality in private life, Miss Ray proved amazingly amenable to the hardships of the serial genre and was willing to try almost anything at least once. According to one of her directors, Spencer G. Bennet, Ray never once exhibited the temperament "so common to stars, even in the serial realm." After trying out several would-be partners -- including Harold Miller, Jack Mower, Johnnie Walker, and Bruce Gordon -- Pathé finally found the ideal co-star for Ray in former Biograph player Walter Miller, an actor who theretofore had mostly played villains. It proved a winning combination, and the Ray-Miller team went on become the struggling Pathé company's top box-office performers, remaining so until the advent of sound more or less put a halt to the mostly outdoor serial activity. At liberty after leaving Pathé, Ray was rescued by Universal, who cast her opposite Tim McCoy in The Indians Are Coming, the first all-sound serial. More an athletic presence than an actress in any established sense, Ray was ill-equipped to tackle dialogue. Wearing an ill-fitting blond wig and hauling extra pounds didn't help either, and she earned the worst reviews of her career. The last of the silent serial queens, Allene Ray ultimately met a peril from which there was no escape: talkies.