|Cause of death stroke|
Other names Gene Ray
Parents Jean E. Ray
|Years active 1980–2002|
Name Gene Ray
|Full Name Eugene Anthony Ray|
Born May 24, 1962 (1962-05-24) Harlem, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, dancer, choreographer
Albums The Kids From Fame Live, The Kids From Fame, The Kids From Fame Sing For You
Education Julia Richman High School, High School of Performing Arts
Similar People Valerie Landsburg, Lee Curreri, Erica Gimpel, Debbie Allen, Irene Cara
Movies and TV shows Fame, New York Hot Tracks
Died November 14, 2003 (aged 41) New York City, U.S.
Gene Anthony Ray (May 24, 1962 – November 14, 2003) was an American actor, dancer, and choreographer. He was known for his portrayal of dancer Leroy Johnson in both the 1980 film Fame and the 1982–1987 Fame television series based upon the film.
- Gene Anthony Ray Fame Reunion 2003
- Remember Gene Anthony Ray From Fame This is What Happened To Him
- Early life
- Adult life
Gene Anthony Ray - Fame Reunion 2003
Remember Gene Anthony Ray From Fame This is What Happened To Him
Born in Harlem, New York, on May 24, 1962, Ray grew up in the neighborhood of West 153rd Street. He began performing early in life, street dancing at block parties. He performed in a dance class at the Julia Richman High School; he skipped school one day to audition for Fame choreographer, Louis Falco.
Ray attended the New York High School of the Performing Arts, the inspiration for the film Fame, but was kicked out after one year. "It was too disciplined for this wild child of mine," Ray's mother, Jean E. Ray, said.
Ray won the part of Leroy Johnson in the film Fame, which was released in 1980. Much like his Fame character, Ray had little professional training, but he possessed a raw talent that won him his role for the film. Reports USA Today: "Alan (Parker, the director) had to approach him very carefully. His mom was dealing drugs during the filming. It was not pretty."
Ray also starred in television series based on the film, Fame. The series was produced by MGM Television from 1982 to 1987, and syndicated from 1983 to 1987.
Also in 1982, Ray danced in The Weather Girls' music video for "Well-A-Wiggy". Additionally, he began touring the U.K. with the other members of the Fame cast as The Kids from "Fame"; they performed at 10 venues, including a sell out performance at Royal Albert Hall.
In 1984, USA Today reports: "Ray was axed from the show after his mother was jailed for running a drug ring, and he failed to turn up for work 100 times." He struggled with addictions to alcohol and drugs, and worked only intermittently once the TV series ended.
In 1987, he won the role of Billy Nolan in the ill-fated musical adaptation of Carrie by Stephen King. Ray played the role in the original opening in Stratford-Upon-Avon, which closed after less than a month. He then transferred to Broadway and continued to play the role until the musical closed after only 21 public performances.
Ray also appeared in the 1995 film Out-of-Sync, which was directed by his Fame co-star Debbie Allen, in the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg comedy Eddie (for which he was also credited as associate choreographer), as well as in commercials for Dr Pepper and Diet Coke.
His last video project was a one-hour BBC Fame reunion documentary, Fame Remember My Name, taped in Los Angeles in April 2003.
As his Telegraph obituary describes:"Ray remained a 'frantic partygoer' with a self-confessed weakness for drink and drugs. As his life fell apart, he slept on park benches, and during a failed attempt to launch a Fame-style dance school in Milan, shared a flat there with a porn actress. In 1996 he was diagnosed HIV positive. He suffered a stroke in 2003."Flamboyantly camp, he brushed aside questions about his sexuality. He never married."
In 2001 Marco Papa, an Italian artist, tried to trace Gene Anthony Ray to involve him in his art project Dancing on the Verge, a research between success and failure. The result of their professional and human relationship is a poignant story, documented by drawings, sculptures, installations video and multimedia performances, and collected in the book entitled Dancing on the Verge, published by Charta, which testifies to their path until the death of Ray.
Ray died on November 14, 2003, aged 41, from complications of a stroke he had suffered in June that year.