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Gabrielle Ray: Life story and Stunning Photos of Famous Edwardian Singer and Actress

Gabrielle Ray was an English stage actress, dancer, and singer. She was best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies. The actress was regarded as one of the most talented actresses on the London stage.

She was born in Stockport, Cheshire (UK), on April 28, 1883. She began her stage career at the tender age of only ten, playing juvenile roles in London’s West End theaters. Gabrielle made her stage debut in October 1893 in the musical play Miami at the Royal Princess’s Theatre on Oxford Street. The following year she performed in ‘A Celebrated Case at the Elephant and Castle,’ a challenging venue catering solely to the working classes, who were not slow to express their appreciation or disapproval of it. Gabrielle played the daughter of the wronged heroine in the play. Ben Greet, the touring company manager of the Hammersmith Lyric Opera House, saw her performing in the pantomime ‘Sinbad, the Sailor.’ Greet was so impressed by her performance, and he recruited the 16-year-old to play ‘Mamie Clancy in his touring company’s production of The Belle of New York, a musical comedy. In 1902, she returned to the Lyric to reprise her role as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ with another Greet production, The Casino Girl, followed by a provincial tour in another Greet production.

A career with George Edwardes

Gabrielle enchanted her audience as soon as she appeared on stage with bright blue eyes and golden blonde hair. A combination of graceful fluidity and acrobatic prowess made her dancing nothing less than spectacular. Famous English theatre manager and producer George Edwardes, who saw her as a star in the making, signed her on the spot to join his company upon completion of her engagement at the Lyric. Gabrielle’s first engagement for Edwardes was as Gertie Millar’s understudy in ‘The Toreador’ at the Gaiety, several years senior to Gabrielle but already a renowned musical/comedy performer. In 1903, Edwardes engaged Gabrielle to take over from Letty Lind as the lead in ‘The Girl from Kays at the Apollo’ after the Gaiety closed for renovation. On October 26, 1903, the Gaiety Theatre reopened with a premiere of The Orchid, attended by Charles Edward VI and Queen Alexandra. Gertie Millar again played the lead while Gabrielle returned not as an understudy but to play the role of Thisbe, which included a solo song-and-dance number that Gabrielle made one of the show’s highlights. Gabrielle’s success was secure by now, and she continued to perform for Edwardes on an array of successful productions, including one of his biggest hits, a stage adaptation of Franz Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow,’ which opened on Edwardes’ second Theatre, Daly’s, on June 8, 1907. Lily Elsie played the lead, but Gabrielle’s primary role as Frou Frou included a whirling dance routine with handstands and high kicks performed on a table held head-high by four men, which was another show-stopper.

Personal life

In 1912 Gabrielle announced her retirement from the stage and married Eric Loder. As the bride failed to arrive for the St Edwards Roman Catholic Church ceremony in Windsor on February 29, 1912, thousands of spectators were disappointed. Later, Gabrielle explained that she could not conduct the wedding in front of a large crowd of newspaper reporters and socialites. The wedding took place in a private ceremony the next day. However, it wasn’t to be a match made in heaven, and she separated from him after only two years.

In 1915, after the breakup of her marriage, Gabrielle returned to the stage, but the Theatre was changing as the cinema seduced its audiences. She was deeply affected by both the death of her mentor, George Edwardes, and the emotional scars from her failed marriage. Still, she appeared in two other major West End productions, Betty at Daly’s and Flying Colours at the Hippodrome, before concluding her career with sporadic appearances in provincial pantomimes and variety tours.

Death

The combination of depression and alcoholism wreaked havoc on her health after her career waned. As part of the settlement from her ex-husband, Eric Loder, she received financial support. In 1936, she suffered a nervous breakdown, which left her institutionalized in a mental hospital for nearly forty years. On May 21, 1973, Gabrielle Ray died childless and alone at 90.

#1 Gabrielle Ray, 1900s.

Gabrielle Ray, 1900s.

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#2 Gabrielle Ray, 1900s.

Gabrielle Ray, 1900s.

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#3 Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

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#4 Miss Gabrielle Ray

Miss Gabrielle Ray

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#5 Miss Gabrielle Ray, 1930

Miss Gabrielle Ray, 1930

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#6 Miss Gabrielle Ray, 1930s

Miss Gabrielle Ray, 1930s

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#7 Gabrielle Ray as ‘Daisy’ in ‘The Dollar Princess’, 1930s

Gabrielle Ray as 'Daisy' in 'The Dollar Princess', 1930s

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#8 Gabrielle Ray Throws a snowball.

Gabrielle Ray Throws a snowball.

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#9 Gabrielle Ray, 1910

Gabrielle Ray, 1910

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#10 Gabrielle Ray.

Gabrielle Ray.

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#11 Gabrielle Ray, 1910

Gabrielle Ray, 1910

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#12 Gabrielle Ray, 1910

Gabrielle Ray, 1910

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#13 Gabrielle Ray as St Joan of Arc

Gabrielle Ray as St Joan of Arc

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#14 Gabrielle Ray, 1908

Gabrielle Ray, 1908

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#15 Gabrielle Ray as Frou Frou, in a scene from the musical play, ‘The Merry Widow’

Gabrielle Ray as Frou Frou, in a scene from the musical play, 'The Merry Widow'

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#16 Gabrielle Ray, 1906

Gabrielle Ray, 1906

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#17 Gabrielle Ray wearing a winged costume in a publicity photo for a production of ‘Little Cherub’.

Gabrielle Ray wearing a winged costume in a publicity photo for a production of 'Little Cherub'.

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#18 Gabriella Ray on stage at the Prince of Wales Theater in London in a production of The Little Cherub, 1906.

Gabriella Ray on stage at the Prince of Wales Theater in London in a production of The Little Cherub, 1906.

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#19 Gabrielle Ray, 1906

Gabrielle Ray, 1906

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#20 Gabrielle Ray perfoms on stage as ‘So Hie’ in the musical comedy ‘See See’ at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, 1906.

Gabrielle Ray perfoms on stage as 'So Hie' in the musical comedy 'See See' at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, 1906.

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#21 Gabrielle Ray; Edwardian hand coloured photograph.

Gabrielle Ray; Edwardian hand coloured photograph.

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#22 Gabrielle Ray, 1905

Gabrielle Ray, 1905

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#23 Gabrielle Ray, from the Chinese comic opera ‘See-See’

Gabrielle Ray, from the Chinese comic opera 'See-See'

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#24 Gabrielle Ray in costume for her role in ‘Lady Dandes’, 1905

Gabrielle Ray in costume for her role in 'Lady Dandes', 1905

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#25 Gabrielle Ray, 1905

Gabrielle Ray, 1905

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#26 Gabrielle Ray, 1905

Gabrielle Ray, 1905

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#27 Gabrielle Ray, 1905

Gabrielle Ray, 1905

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#28 Gabrielle Ray, 1900

Gabrielle Ray, 1900

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#29 Gabrielle Ray, 1900

Gabrielle Ray, 1900

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#30 Gabrielle Ray, 1900s

Gabrielle Ray, 1900s

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#31 Gabrielle Ray, with a diabolo, 1900.

Gabrielle Ray, with a diabolo, 1900.

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#32 Gabrielle Ray, 1900

Gabrielle Ray, 1900

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#33 Gabrielle Ray with a diabolo, 1900

Gabrielle Ray with a diabolo, 1900

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#34 Gabrielle Ray, 1900

Gabrielle Ray, 1900

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#35 Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

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#36 Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

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#37 Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

Gabrielle Ray, early 20th century.

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Written by Alicia Linn

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet....... I’ve never been able to figure out what would i write about myself.

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