Nicholas Ray

About Nicholas Ray

Who is it?: Director, Writer, Actor
Birth Day: August 07, 1911
Birth Place:  Galesville, Wisconsin, United States
Occupation: Film director
Years active: 1948–1979
Spouse(s): Jean (Abrams) Evans (m. 1936; div. 1942) Gloria Grahame (m. 1948; div. 1952) Betty Utey (m. 1958; div. 1964) Susan Schwartz (m. 1969)
Children: 4

Nicholas Ray

Nicholas Ray was born on August 07, 1911 in  Galesville, Wisconsin, United States, is Director, Writer, Actor. Nicholas Ray was born Raymond Nicholas Kienzle in 1911, in small-town Galesville, Wisconsin, to Lena (Toppen) and Raymond Joseph Kienzle, a contractor and builder. He was of German and Norwegian descent. Ray's early experience with film came with some radio broadcasting in high school. He left the University of Chicago after a year, but made such an impression on his professor and writer Thorton Wilder that he was recommended for a scholarship with Frank Lloyd Wright, where he learned the importance of space and geography, not to mention his later love for CinemaScope. When political differences came between the seasoned architect and his young protégé, Ray left for New York and became immersed in the radical theater.He joined the Theater of Action and later the Group Theater, which is where he met his good friend Elia Kazan. Times were tough and money was tight, but Ray loved the bohemian lifestyle of the close-knit group and enjoyed one of the happiest times of his life. Anybody who met him always noted his intellect and amazing energy. During this period he, along with his fellow Theater Group members, was also active in Socialist/Communist movement (which curiously went unnoticed during the Red Scare). In January 1937, Ray was put in charge of local theater activities by the Department of Agriculture's Resettlement Administration and moved to Washington with his wife Jean Evans, who was pregnant with his first child, Anthony. He also, along with Alan Lomax, traveled around the south and recorded folk musicians for the Library of Congress. The collaboration proved worthy, and in the early 40s Lomax and Ray were hired by CBS to produce a regular evening slot, headed by Woody Guthrie. In between this time Ray divorced his wife. Ray soon met John Houseman, who would become a very close friend. Houseman asked Ray to produce shows for the Overseas Branch of the Office of War Information, which ended quickly due to political pressures. Meanwhile, Ray's good friend of the Group Theater days Elia Kazan had been called to Hollywood to make his feature film debut A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), and hired Ray to be his assistant, where Ray was first introduced to film making. Houseman called Ray back to New York where Ray made his live TV debut with the enormously popular Sorry, Wrong Number (1946), plus some other radio work.In 1946 Houseman lent Ray the novel "Thieves Like Us" by Edward Anderson, and Ray fell in love with it; he was familiar with the Depression-era south. He worked hard at the adaptation, and though uncredited for the screenplay, Ray actually contributed a large amount to it. There was never any question of Ray directing the film, and under the sympathetic eyes of producers Houseman and Dore Schary, who was well-known for giving first-time writers and directors breaks, Ray enjoyed possibly the only truly happy film making experience of his career. The film stars Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell as young, naive lovers trying to let their love blossom while running from the law. The film is remembered today for Ray's unique use of the camera (this was one of the first times a helicopter was used to shoot action), a fast pace, and above all, his extreme empathy for society's outsiders. Sadly, the film was shelved for two years due to Howard Hughes's takeover of RKO, and the film was released to a single theater in England to great reviews before it was finally released in the U.S.Ray was eager to go back to work and quickly accepted a project without thinking. That film was A Woman's Secret (1949), which Ray probably would've turned down had he though twice about going back to work, as it bears little of his fingerprints. The film is only memorable because it is where Ray met actress Gloria Grahame, who became his second wife. Ray referred to the film as "a disastrous experience, among other things because I met her." When she became pregnant, Grahame divorced her husband and married Ray, because they thought it was the right thing to do. The same day that she became divorced, Ray and Grahame were wed in Las Vegas, but their marriage was over before it even started; Grahame spent their honeymoon alone while Ray gambled away nearly $40,000 in one night. Though RKO's publicity department alleged that Grahame and Ray met after Grahame's separation and that their son Timothy was born nearly 4 months premature, certain obvious truths contradict that statement. The marriage was disastrous; the two separated a year later and their attempt at professional friendship ended when Ray caught Grahame in bed with his son by Jean Evans. They divorced in 1952. Although They Live by Night (1948) was still unreleased in the US at this time, several Hollywood stars had their own private screening rooms and the film was seen by several important people.One such person was Humphrey Bogart, who was so impressed with the debut that he invited Ray to direct his first independent production, Knock on Any Door (1949), for a loan-out at Columbia. Though Bogart was initially puzzled by Ray's intensely emotional style of directing, the two had a lot in common and became good friends. The film became a modest success, but Ray had misgivings and later said, "I wish Luis Buñuel had made Los olvidados (1950) before I made Knock on Any Door (1949), because I would have made a hell of a lot better film." Indeed, though the subject (juvenile delinquents) is close to Ray's heart, the film is too perhaps too polemic for its own good. Back at RKO, Ray was obliged to make films close to Howard Hughes's heart but not to his own. Despite Ray's leftist views and previous association with the Communist Party, his friendship with Hughes benefited Ray for the better during the Red Scare, and Ray remained untouched, but was morally and contractually obligated to make films he had no care for, such as Born to Be Bad (1950), which starred Hughes' one-time lover, Joan Fontaine, and Flying Leathernecks (1951), a blatant pro-war film that went against Ray's politics. Ray also did uncredited touch-up work to film such as Roseanna McCoy (1949), The Racket (1951), Androcles and the Lion (1952), and Macao (1952) during his years at RKO. Though Ray had his misgivings on their last collaboration, Bogart must have been impressed with Ray because he was optioned for a second loan-out at Columbia. Based loosely on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place (1950) tells the story of a violent screenwriter who falls in love with a fellow Hollywood burnout while he is under investigation for a murder of a girl he barely knew. The story was changed drastically from the source novel and shaped to better suit Bogart, and the result is considered one of Bogart's best and most complex performances. Despite their marital problems, Ray insisted on casting Gloria Grahame for the role of Bogart's lover because he knew she was right for the role, and Grahame was praised for her work as well.A critical acclaimed film at the time of its release but something of a box-office disappointment, In a Lonely Place (1950) has gained a reputation over the decades as a classic example of both film noir and existential, heartbreaking romance. Before his contract was finished at RKO, Ray was at least able to make two memorable films: On Dangerous Ground (1951) was a complex cop drama that again featured expressionistic camera moves (hand-held cameras were used, a rarity for the 1950s) and a look into a violent protagonist, and The Lusty Men (1952), a film about the complexity of coming home was disguised as a rodeo movie. It is considered an underrated work of both Robert Mitchum and Ray. After he left RKO, his first project was the pseudo Western Johnny Guitar (1954), which he never liked and hated making (mostly because of Joan Crawford) despite its box-office success. Today the film has gathered a cult status (Martin Scorsese is a big fan), and during this period the French New Wave directors began to take note of this American auteur; Jean-Luc Godard in particular idolized Ray and once stated that "the cinema is Nicholas Ray." In September of 1954, Ray wrote a treatment to "The Blind Run," about three troubled teenagers who create a new family in each other. This would form the basis for his most popular and influential film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955). After some re-writes, Ray started shopping for a lead actor. After a trip to the Strasberg Institute in New York proved fruitless, he learned that Elia Kazan had recently discovered a New York stage actor for his latest film, but he wasn't recommending him; even after Ray saw a rough cut of this actor's latest film he still wasn't sure.It was only when Ray met 24 year old James Dean at a party did he realize that this hot new talent would be perfect for the role of Jim Stark, a troubled youth whose world is unraveled in a 24-hour period. Ray and Dean formed a very close bond during filming, with Ray allowing Dean to improvise and even direct to his liking. The rest of the cast came together with the talents of two fifteen year olds: Natalie Wood (to whom Ray was rumored to have made advances) and Sal Mineo; as well as smaller roles, which Ray cast based on weeks of bizarre, improvised auditions as well as interviews with the actors. Filming was a wild ride, but it paid off; Mineo and Wood were both Oscar-nominated in the supporting acting categories, and Ray received his only Oscar nomination, for the screenplay.Ray and Dean planned to make more movies after this, but Dean's death would never make that possible, and at least they left movie audiences with one great film. Ray loved working with younger actors and wanted to only make movies about them, but first he made Hot Blood (1956), based on research that his ex-wife had compiled about gypsies. During a stay in Paris Ray read an article called "Ten Feet Tall," about a teacher whose life fell apart because of a Cortisone addiction. Ray was fascinated by this and empathized with teachers' low pay at the time. Star and producer James Mason played Ed Avery, a family man whose life takes a nightmarish turn when he becomes addicted to Cortisone. Though a critical and financial disaster, today it is considered Nicholas Ray's masterpiece and very ahead of its time. The French magazine Cahiers du Cinema named it one of the 10 best films of the 50s. In fact, the magazine was a huge admirer of Ray, and frequently would acclaim Ray's films for their style and substance while American critics dismissed them, adding to Ray's cult status as a director. Ray continued to make films, but his health started to become a problem on the set of Wind Across the Everglades (1958), and Ray was fired, with most of his footage discarded.In the 1960s, he was invited to make two big-budget films in Spain, the Biblical epic King of Kings (1961) and 55 Days at Peking (1963), where he suffered a heart attack brought on by years of heavy drinking and smoking, not to mention stress. This sadly brought his Hollywood career to a premature finish. After his heart attack, he tried many times to direct again, but no projects made it off the ground. In addition, Ray was frequently using drugs and immersing himself in the chaos of the 1960s and the hippie generation. He did not direct again until the satirical porn short Wet Dreams (1974). Also in the 1970s, he became a teacher at New York University (one of his students was Jim Jarmusch), and despite his eccentricity, he connected with his students and together they made We Can't Go Home Again (1973), half documentary and half fiction. With the help of his friend Wim Wenders, he completed his last film, Lightning Over Water (1980), which was supposed to be about a painter dying of cancer and trying to sail to China to find a cure, but instead it became a sad documentary about Ray's last days.Nicholas Ray died on June 6th, 1979 of lung cancer, but before his death he left the world some of the most painfully realized and contemporary motion pictures ever put on celluloid, and shared a fully realized vulnerability that will never be duplicated. 30 years after his death, the cinema still is Nicholas Ray.
Nicholas Ray is a member of Director

Does Nicholas Ray Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Nicholas Ray has been died on June 16, 1979(1979-06-16) (aged 67)\nNew York City, New York, U.S..

🎂 Nicholas Ray - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Nicholas Ray die, Nicholas Ray was 67 years old.

Popular As Nicholas Ray
Occupation Director
Age 67 years old
Zodiac Sign Virgo
Born August 07, 1911 ( Galesville, Wisconsin, United States)
Birthday August 07
Town/City  Galesville, Wisconsin, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Nicholas Ray’s zodiac sign is Virgo. According to astrologers, Virgos are always paying attention to the smallest details and their deep sense of humanity makes them one of the most careful signs of the zodiac. Their methodical approach to life ensures that nothing is left to chance, and although they are often tender, their heart might be closed for the outer world. This is a sign often misunderstood, not because they lack the ability to express, but because they won’t accept their feelings as valid, true, or even relevant when opposed to reason. The symbolism behind the name speaks well of their nature, born with a feeling they are experiencing everything for the first time.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Nicholas Ray was born in the Year of the Pig. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Pig are extremely nice, good-mannered and tasteful. They’re perfectionists who enjoy finer things but are not perceived as snobs. They enjoy helping others and are good companions until someone close crosses them, then look out! They’re intelligent, always seeking more knowledge, and exclusive. Compatible with Rabbit or Goat.

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With strong grades in English and public speaking and failures in Latin, physics, and geometry, he graduated at the bottom (ranked 152nd in a class of 153) of his class at La Crosse Central High School in 1929. He studied drama at La Crosse State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse) for two years before earning the requisite grades to matriculate at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1931. Although he spent only one semester at the institution because of excessive drinking and poor grades, Ray managed to cultivate relationships with Frank Lloyd Wright and dramatist Thornton Wilder, then a professor. He received a Taliesin Fellowship from Wright to study under him as an apprentice.


During the Great Depression, Ray was employed by the Federal Theatre Project, part of the Works Progress Administration. He befriended folklorist Alan Lomax and traveled with him through rural America collecting traditional vernacular music. Lomax and Ray produced "Back Where I Come From", a pioneering folk music radio program featuring such artists as Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Leadbelly, and Pete Seeger. American folk songs would later figure prominently in several of his films. In 1944, he served as Elia Kazan's assistant during the production of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.


Ray directed his first and only Broadway production, the Duke Ellington musical Beggar's Holiday, in 1946. One year later, he directed his first film, They Live by Night. It was not released for two years due to the chaotic conditions surrounding Howard Hughes' takeover of RKO Pictures. An almost impressionistic take on film noir, it was notable for its extreme empathy for society's young outsiders, a recurring motif in Ray's oeuvre. Its subject matter, two young lovers running from the law, had an influence on the sporadically popular movie subgenre often called "love on the run". Other examples are Joseph H. Lewis's Gun Crazy (1950), Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973), and Robert Altman's adaptation of the novel that served as the basis for They Live by Night, Thieves Like Us (1974).


Ray is also appreciated by a smaller audience of cinephiles for a large number of narrative features produced between 1947 and 1963 including Bigger Than Life, Johnny Guitar, They Live by Night, and In a Lonely Place, as well as an experimental work produced throughout the 1970s titled We Can't Go Home Again, which was unfinished at the time of Ray's death from lung cancer. Ray's compositions within the CinemaScope frame and use of color are particularly well-regarded. Ray was an important influence on the French New Wave, with Jean-Luc Godard famously writing in a review of Bitter Victory, "cinema is Nicholas Ray."


Ray's most productive and successful period was the 1950s. In the mid-fifties he made the two films for which he is best remembered: Johnny Guitar (1954) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). The former was a Western starring Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge in action roles of the kind customarily played by men. Highly eccentric in its time, it was much loved by French critics. (François Truffaut called it "the beauty and the beast" of Westerns). In 1955, Ray directed Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean in what proved to be his most famous role. When Rebel was released, soon after Dean's early death in an automobile crash, it had a revolutionary impact on movie-making and youth culture, virtually giving birth to the contemporary concept of the American teenager. Looking past its social and pop-culture significance, Rebel Without a Cause is the purest Example of Ray's cinematic style and vision, with an expressionistic use of colour, dramatic use of architecture, and an empathy for social misfits.


In 1956, Ray directed the melodrama Bigger Than Life starring James Mason as a small-town school Teacher driven insane by the misuse of a new wonder-drug, Cortisone. In 1957, he directed The True Story of Jesse James, which was supposed to have featured James Dean but starred Robert Wagner due to Dean's death.


A heavy user of drugs and alcohol, Ray found himself increasingly shut out of the Hollywood film industry in the early 1960s, though he continued working. After collapsing on the set of 55 Days at Peking (1963), he did not direct again until the 1970s.


At a 1970 Grateful Dead concert at the Fillmore East, Ray ran into Dennis Hopper, who asked Ray to join him at his ranch in Taos, New Mexico, where he was editing his new film, The Last Movie. When Ray proved to be irascible and amassed an expensive telephone bill, Hopper helped him secure a visiting lecturer position at the State University of New York at Binghamton in upstate New York. From 1971 to 1973, Ray taught filmmaking as he and his students produced We Can't Go Home Again, an autobiographical film employing multiple superimpositions. In the spring of 1972, Ray was asked to show some footage from the film at a conference. The audience was shocked to see footage of Ray and his students smoking marijuana together. An early version of the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, but Ray, never satisfied with the project, continued editing it until his death in 1979.


The extemporaneous, improvisational nature of producing We Can't Go Home Again placed Ray in conflict with colleagues such as Ken Jacobs and Larry Gottheim in the university's New American Cinema-oriented film department, and his contract at Binghamton was not renewed in the spring of 1973. With the help of old friends, he would eventually secure teaching positions at the Lee Strasberg Institute and New York University, where he mentored graduate student Jim Jarmusch.


Shortly before his death he collaborated on the direction of Lightning Over Water (also known as Nick's Film) with German Director Wim Wenders. He died of lung cancer on June 16, 1979 in New York City after a two-year illness. Ray died the same week as John Wayne, the star of Flying Leathernecks, a film Ray directed (Wayne had died on June 11). He was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery.


Some biographers state that Ray — whom they allege to have begun to sexually experiment with men during his stint at the University of Chicago — was bisexual. He denied this in 1977, but stated that everyone has occasional fantasies or daydreams about same-sex relations.

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