Milland, Ray


Large ca. 1948 photo signed & inscribed by the Oscar-winning actor with a 50+ year career!



Type: Photograph
Description: (b. Alfred Reginald Jones, 1907-1986) British-born actor and director, on screen 1929-85, best remembered for his Oscar-winning role in “The Lost Weekend” (1945).

He left the British Army to pursue acting, his 1st major role in “The Flying Scotsman” (1929) which led to a 9-month MGM contract then a Paramount contract. Lent to Universal for the Deanna Durbin musical “Three Smart Girls” (1936), its success got him a lead in “The Jungle Princess” (1936) with new starlet Dorothy Lamour, catapulting both to stardom. One of Paramount’s most highly paid stars, remained with them for some 20 years.

On “The Flying Scotsman” set, it was suggested he adopt a stage name; he chose Milland from the “mill lands” area of his Welsh hometown of Neath. He sought some stage experience and between plays, MGM offered him a 9-month Hollywood contract and used him as a “stock player”, small speaking parts in mainstream productions. In 1930, he appeared in his 1st US film, “Passion Flower”. For 2 years, Milland appeared in minor parts for MGM and a few films for Warner Bros. After MGM failed to renew his contract, he returned to Britain hoping for roles in British films. After 2 British films, he returned to California and sought a job as a Shell gas station asst. manager. After his successful Shell interview, he passed by Paramount’s gates and was approached by casting director Joe Egli. Paramount was filming “Bolero” with George Raft but an injury to a British actor left them looking for an urgent replacement. Egli offered a 2-week contract at 10 times Shell’s salary; Milland took the role.

After “Bolero”, he was offered a 5-week guarantee for a screwball comedy with Crosby and Lombard. Director Norman Taurog was impressed, rang the chief production executive and Milland got a 7-year Paramount deal. When “Three Smart Girls” was released to rave reviews, they gave him the “The Jungle Princess” lead. By the end of 1936, he was considered for lead roles, Paramount rewrote his contract, and tripled his salary. He was cast as Drummond in “Bulldog Drummond Escapes” (1937) and reunited with Lamour in “Her Jungle Love” and “Tropic Holiday” (both 1938). He appeared in “Beau Geste” (1939) with Gary Cooper and Robert Preston, a huge hit.

When the US entered WW II, he was an Army civilian flight instructor, toured with a USO South Pacific troupe in 1944, and appeared in more action films and toured war theatres with the USO. The height of his career came with “The Lost Weekend” (1945). He lost 8 lbs. for the role and spoke with the book’s author to gain insight into the illness. Favorable reviews took Milland and the studio by surprise. He won that year’s Best Actor Oscar, a Golden Globe, the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actor. His contract was rewritten, becoming Paramount’s highest-salaried actor until the early 1950s. “The Big Clock” (1948) was one of his most highly regarded films.

He starred opposite Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” (1954), and starred in the CBS sitcom “Meet Mr. McNultey” 1953-55, renamed “The Ray Milland Show” in its 2nd season. He directed some episodes and had ambitions to direct features. He starred in Fox’s “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing” (1955).

After leaving Paramount, Milland directed episodes of “The Ford Television Theatre” and “Schlitz Playhouse” and appeared in episodes of “Suspicion” and “General Electric Theater”, directing episodes of both. He starred in the 1958-60 CBS detective series “Markham”, originally “Crisis”, which failed to capture a significant audience though following the popular Western “Gunsmoke”. He appeared in 2 Roger Corman pictures, “The Premature Burial” (1962, 3rd of Corman’s “Poe Cycle”), then portrayed Dr. Xavier in the well-received “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” (1963). Also for AIP, he starred in the self-directed sci fi drama “Panic in the Year Zero!” (1962) and guest-starred on shows like “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (1964). He was a film & TV character actor in the late 60s-early 70s; his biggest box office success in many years was as Oliver Barrett III in “Love Story” (1970). In 1972, he starred in 2 horror films, “Frogs” and cult classic “The Thing with Two Heads”. He had  success with the TV miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” (1976), with an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He reprised his role as Ryan O’Neal’s father in “Oliver’s Story” (1978). He appeared in action films, guest-starred on Aaron Spelling TV shows and e Hehad support roles in TV films like “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana” (1982) and “The Masks of Death” (1984), a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

14 x 11 b&w ca. 1948 ISP, bust portrait signed with a sentiment.

Condition: Very good, flaws at corners, tears at lower corners, bends at top corners strengthened with acid-free tape verso.

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