Sunday, 10 July 2011
Ray Milland #1
Born Alfred Reginald Jones in Neath, Wales, on 3 Januray 1907, he took his stage name from the Millands area of his home town of Neath. Joining the Household Cavalry as a young man, he became an expert shot and a member of his company's rifle team, winning many prestigious competitions. After his four-year duty service was over, he tried his hand at acting and made several films in the UK.
Milland relocated to Hollywood after a talent scout spotted him on the stage in London. He initially featured in supporting roles for at various studios such as films like The Bachelor Father and Just a Gigolo, both made in 1931 at MGM; The Man Who Played God and Blonde Crazy, both 1931 at Warner Brothers; The Glass Key (1935) at Paramount; Next Time We Love (1936) at Universal. He gradually made his way up the cast list and signed a contract with Paramount in the late 1930s.
The author of 100 short stories, he completed his entertaining autobiography, Wide-Eyed in Babylon, in 1974. One of the tales he recounted recalled his time in the Household cavalry when, after a night of drinking, he was unable to control his horse during a pocession in front of the King of Afghanistan and it bolted:
“I went right through the mounted band, who were helpless because their reins are fastened to their stirrups. The drum horse, who was at least nineteen years old, ended up in the memorial fountain, and I finished up in Buckingham Palace courtyard, alone and without a friend in the world.”
His last movie was the straight-to-video The Gold Key (1974), but he continued working in televsion, mostly in guest star roles, but he won an Emmy for his work in Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976. His last televison role was as the Home Secretary in Roy Ward Baker’s Sherlock Holmes television film, The Masks of Death (with Peter Cushing as Holmes and John Mills as Watson) in 1984.
Milland died of lung cancer in Torrance, California in 1986, aged 79.