Born in Minnesota, Ray Taylor was an actor and theatrical stage manager before World War I. After leaving the army, he joined Fox Films and became an assistant to John Ford. He moved to Universal in the '20s, where he became a director, mostly of short subjects before moving up to movie serials and B-action thrillers during the silent era. He made the transition to sound easily enough, and by the middle of the decade was one of the film capital's top hands at making chapterplays and fast-moving programmers, mostly crime thrillers and action films. Among his best work are the serials The Return of Chandu (1934), Dick Tracy (1937), and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940). Although never a noted stylist in the manner of William Witney or Spencer Bennet, Taylor could move his actors along quickly with the best of them, without sacrificing either lyricism or elegance, as exemplified by Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, which was the prettiest and most majestic serial ever made, rising to Wagnerian heights of grandeur. In the late '40s, with the decline of the serial form, Taylor finished out his career in low-budget westerns.