Marjorie Ray ~ The Addicted Silent Star

Marjorie Ray

Marjorie Ray was a silent comedy actress who battled drug addiction and died young.

She was born on July 9, 1890 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her father, George Ray, was a poor farmer and she was one of eight children. When she was a teenager she went to New York City to become an actress. Marjorie joined comedian Dan Russell's vaudeville stage show The Matinee Girls. She fell in love with Dan, who was fifteen years older than her and married. It didn't take long before he left his wife so he could marry Marjorie. Their son, James E. Dunn, was born on December 3, 1909. Since they were performing on the road Marjorie left the baby with her mother in Missouri. Tragedy struck in May of 1910 when five month old James died from bronchitis. For the next several years she and her husband toured the country becoming a very popular vaudeville duo. In 1915 Dan was signed by L-KO productions and he helped Marjorie get a contract too. The couple costarred in numerous comedies together including Shot In The Excitement, The Battles Of Let Go, and Two Gun Trixie.

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She was often billed as "Mrs. Dan Wilson". Unfortunately by 1921 her film career and her marriage were over. Marjorie continued to perform on stage and spent some time working in Mexico City. Then in 1923 she joined the Colonial Theater stock company in San Diego. She starred in a new show every week and earned rave reviews. Sadly she had also become addicted to morphine and opium. One night in July of 1924 she was unable to find a syringe. Desperate to get high she used a safety pin and eyedropper in her leg. Marjorie contracted a serious case of tetanus but continued to perform for the next week. She told the audience she was suffering from a "sore throat" Tragically on July 22, 1924 she died at the young age of thirty-four. Four hundred friends and fans attended her funeral. Marjorie was buried in Texas wearing her favorite stage dress. Her ex-husband Dan Russell died just eight months later following an ulcer operation.

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Marjorie Ray Death

Hair Pins and Dead Ends
Hairpins and Dead Ends by Michael G. Ankerich has an excellent chapter about Marjorie