Ray Milland


03 Jan 1905


Neath, Glamorgan, Wales, UK


Reginald Alfred John Truscott-Jones


Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor.

Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred Jones. He spent his youth in the pursuit of sports. He became an expert rider early on, working at his uncle's horse-breeding estate while studying at the King's College in Cardiff. At 21, he went to London as a member of the elite Household Cavalry (Guard for the Royal Family), undergoing a rigorous 19-months training, further honing his equestrian skills, as well as becoming adept at fencing, boxing and shooting. He won trophies, including the Bisley Match, with his unit's crack rifle team. However, after four years, he suddenly lost his means of financial support (independent income being a requirement as a Guardsman) when his stepfather discontinued his allowance. Broke, he tried his hand at acting in small parts on the London stage.

There are several stories as to how he derived his stage name. It is known, that during his teens he called himself "Mullane", using his stepfather's surname. He may later have suffused "Mullane" with "mill-lands", an area near his hometown. When he first appeared on screen in British films, he was billed first as Spike Milland, then Raymond Milland.

In 1929, Ray befriended the popular actress Estelle Brody at a party and, later that year, visited her on the set of her latest film, The Plaything (1929). While having lunch, they were joined by a producer who persuaded the handsome Welshman to appear in a motion picture bit part. Ray rose to the challenge and bigger roles followed, including the male lead in The Lady from the Sea (1929). The following year, he was signed by MGM and went to Hollywood, but was given little to work with, except for the role of Charles Laughton's ill-fated nephew in Payment Deferred (1932). After a year, Ray was out of his contract and returned to England.

His big break did not come until 1934 when he joined Paramount, where he was to remain for the better part of his Hollywood career. During the first few years, he served an apprenticeship playing second leads, usually as the debonair man-about-town, in light romantic comedies. He appeared with Burns and Allen in Many Happy Returns (1934), enjoyed third-billing as a British aristocrat in the Claudette Colbert farce The Gilded Lily (1935) and was described as "excellent" by reviewers for his role in the sentimental drama Alias Mary Dow (1935). By 1936, he had graduated to starring roles, first as the injured British hunter rescued on a tropical island by The Jungle Princess (1936), the film which launched Dorothy Lamour's sarong-clad career. After that, he was the titular hero of Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937) and, finally, won the girl (rather than being the "other man") in Mitchell Leisen's screwball comedy Easy Living (1937). He also re-visited the tropics in Ebb Tide (1937), Her Jungle Love (1938) and Tropic Holiday (1938), as well as being one of the three valiant brothers of Beau Geste (1939).

In 1940, Ray was sent back to England to star in the screen adaptation of Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears (1940), for which he received his best critical reviews to date. He was top-billed (above John Wayne) running a ship salvage operation in Cecil B. DeMille's lavish Technicolor adventure drama Reap the Wild Wind (1942), besting Wayne in a fight - much to the "Duke's" personal chagrin - and later wrestling with a giant octopus. Also that year, he was directed by Billy Wilder in a charming comedy, The Major and the Minor (1942) (co-starred with Ginger Rogers), for which he garnered good notices from Bosley Crowther of the New York Times. Ray then played a ghost hunter in The Uninvited (1944), and the suave hero caught in a web of espionage in Fritz Lang's thriller Ministry of Fear (1944).

On the strength of his previous role as "Major Kirby", Billy Wilder chose to cast Ray against type in the ground-breaking drama The Lost Weekend (1945) as dipsomaniac writer "Don Birnam". Ray gave the defining performance of his career, his intensity catching critics, used to him as a lightweight leading man, by surprise. Crowther commented "Mr. Milland, in a splendid performance, catches all the ugly nature of a 'drunk', yet reveals the inner torment and degradation of a respectable man who knows his weakness and his shame" (New York Times, December 3, 1945). Arrived at the high point of his career, Ray Milland won the Oscar for Best Actor, as well as the New York Critic's Award. Rarely given such good material again, he nonetheless featured memorably in many more splendid films, often exploiting the newly discovered "darker side" of his personality: as the reporter framed for murder by Charles Laughton's heinous publishing magnate in The Big Clock (1948); as the sophisticated, manipulating art thief "Mark Bellis" in the Victorian melodrama So Evil My Love (1948) (for which producer Hal B. Wallis sent him back to England); as a Fedora-wearing, Armani-suited "Lucifer", trawling for the soul of an honest District Attorney in Alias Nick Beal (1949); and as a traitorous scientist in The Thief (1952), giving what critics described as a "sensitive" and "towering" performance. In 1954, Ray played calculating ex-tennis champ "Tony Wendice", who blackmails a former Cambridge chump into murdering his wife, in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954). He played the part with urbane sophistication and cold detachment throughout, even in the scene of denouement, calmly offering a drink to the arresting officers.

With Lisbon (1956), Ray Milland moved into another direction, turning out several off-beat, low-budget films with himself as the lead, notably The Safecracker (1958) and Panic in Year Zero! (1962). At the same time, he cheerfully made the transition to character parts, often in horror and sci-fi outings. In accordance with his own dictum of appearing in anything that had "any originality", he worked on two notable pictures with Roger Corman: first, as a man obsessed with catalepsy in Premature Burial (1962); secondly, as obsessed self-destructive surgeon "Dr. Xavier" in X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)-the Man with X-Ray Eyes, a film which, despite its low budget, won the 1963 Golden Asteroid in the Trieste Festival for Science Fiction.

As the years went on, Ray gradually disposed of his long-standing toupee, lending dignity through his presence to many run-of-the-mill television films, such as Cave In! (1983) and maudlin melodramas like Love Story (1970). He guest-starred in many anthology series on television and had notable roles in Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969) and the original Battlestar Galactica (1978) (as Quorum member Sire Uri). He also enjoyed a brief run on Broadway, starring as "Simon Crawford" in "Hostile Witness" (1966), at the Music Box Theatre.

In his private life, Ray was an enthusiastic yachtsman, who loved fishing and collecting information by reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica. In later years, he became very popular with interviewers because of his candid spontaneity and humour. In the same self-deprecating vein he wrote an anecdotal biography, "Wide-Eyed in Babylon", in 1976. A film star, as well as an outstanding actor, Ray Milland died of cancer at the age of 81 in March 1986.

Actor ( 185 credits )

Welcome to the Basement (2012)  Don Birnam / ... (archive footage) (3 episodes, 2013-2
Hollywood contra Franco (2008) Tom Martin (archive footage)
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007) Dr. James Xavier (archive footage)
The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) Himself (archive footage)
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1993) Actor in 'The Lost Weekend' Clip (archive footage) (unc
Intimate Portrait (1993)  Himself (1 episode, 2002)
Roseanne (1988)  Don Birnam (uncredited) (1 episode, 1990)
Biography (1987) (1 episode, 1998)
The Sea Serpent (1984) Profesor Timothy Wallace
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) Sam Hastings (archive footage)
The Attic (1980) Wendell
The Dream Merchants (1980)  Lawrence Radford (2 episodes, 1980)
Spree (1979) Professor
Game for Vultures (1979) Col. Brettle
Hart to Hart (1979)  Stephen Harrison Edwards / ... (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
Slavers (1978) Hassan
Battlestar Galactica (1978) Sire Uri
Oliver's Story (1978) Oliver Barrett III
Blackout (1978) Richard Stafford
Battlestar Galactica (1978)  Sire Uri (1 episode, 1978)
La ragazza dal pigiama giallo (1977) Inspector Thompson
The Uncanny (1977) Frank Richards
Cuibul salamandrelor (1977) The Boss
Fantasy Island (1977)  Colonel James Weston (1 episode, 1978)
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)  Dr. Orin Thatcher (2 episodes, 1978)
The Love Boat (1977)  Peter Bradbury (2 episodes, 1979)
The Last Tycoon (1976) Fleishacker
Aces High (1976) Brigadier General Whale
The Swiss Conspiracy (1976) Johann Hurtil
Charlie's Angels (1976)  Oliver Barrow (1 episode, 1980)
Rich Man, Poor Man - Book II (1976)  Duncan Calderwood (1 episode, 1976)
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) Aristotle Bolt
Ellery Queen (1975)  Carson McKell (1 episode, 1975)
Gold (1974) Hurry Hirschfeld
The Student Connection (1974) Dr. Roger Mann
The Big Game (1973) Prof. Pete Handley
The House in Nightmare Park (1973) Stewart Henderson
Terror in the Wax Museum (1973) Harry Flexner
Embassy (1972) Ambassador
The Thing with Two Heads (1972) Maxwell Kirshner
Frogs (1972) Jason Crockett
Cool Million (1972)  Neil Fitzsimmons (1 episode, 1972)
Columbo (1971)  Arthur Kennicut / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1972)
Mantrap (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
Love Story (1970) Oliver Barrett III
Night Gallery (1969)  Dr. Archibald Ravadon (segment "The Hand of Borgus Wee
This Is Your Life (1969)  Himself (1 episode, 1975)
Bracken's World (1969)  Cameo (1 episode, 1969)
Hostile Witness (1968) Simon Crawford - Q.C.
The Name of the Game (1968)  Jonathan Booker (1 episode, 1970)
Dee Time (1967)  Himself (1 episode, 1967)
The Jackie Gleason Show (1966)  Himself - Cameo Appearance (1 episode, 1969)
The Face Is Familiar (1966)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1966)
The Love Goddesses (1965) Himself (archive footage)
Quick, Let's Get Married (1964) Mario Forni
Cinema (1964)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) Dr. James Xavier
Panic in Year Zero! (1962) Harry Baldwin
Premature Burial (1962) Guy Carrell
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)  Dr. Howard Fennick (1 episode, 1963)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)  Himself (4 episodes, 1971-1972)
Alcoa Premiere (1961)  Keith Briscoe (1 episode, 1962)
The DuPont Show of the Week (1961)  Investigator (1 episode, 1963)
The Mike Douglas Show (1961)  Himself (2 episodes, 1974-1978)
Celebrity Golf (1960)  Himself (1 episode, 1961)
Here's Hollywood (1960)  Himself (1 episode, 1962)
Markham (1959)  Roy Markham (59 episodes, 1959-1960)
Kraft Mystery Theater (1959)  Keith Briscoe (1 episode, 1963)
The Safecracker (1958) Colley Dawson
Decision (1958)  Markheim (1 episode, 1958)
The River's Edge (1957) Nardo Denning
High Flight (1957) Wing Commander Rudge
Suspicion (1957)  Roy Markham (1 episode, 1958)
Goodyear Theatre (1957)  Binyon (1 episode, 1959)
Lisbon (1956) Capt. Robert John Evans
Three Brave Men (1956) Joe DiMarco
A Man Alone (1955) Wes Steele
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) Stanford White
Screen Directors Playhouse (1955)  Markheim (1 episode, 1956)
Dial M for Murder (1954) Tony Wendice
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954)  Aristotle Bolt (1 episode, 1980)
Let's Do It Again (1953) Gary Stuart
Jamaica Run (1953) Patrick Fairlie
General Electric Theater (1953)  Caradoc Williams / ... (4 episodes, 1956-1958)
The Ray Milland Show: Meet Mr. McNulty (1953)  Prof. Ray McNulty / ... (77 episodes, 1953-1955)
The Thief (1952) Allan Fields
Something to Live For (1952) Alan Miller
Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) Kern Shafter
Death Valley Days (1952)  Himself - Host (4 episodes, 1959-1962)
The Ford Television Theatre (1952)  District Attorney Peter Sloan (1 episode, 1956)
Rhubarb (1951) Eric Yeager
Night Into Morning (1951) Philip Ainley
Circle of Danger (1951) Clay Douglas
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story (1951) (archive footage)
The Cinematographer (1951) Himself - film clip from 'Night Unto Morning' (archive
Close to My Heart (1951) Brad Sheridan
Schlitz Playhouse (1951)  Harry Carstairs (1 episode, 1957)
Copper Canyon (1950) Johnny Carter
A Life of Her Own (1950) Steve Harleigh
A Woman of Distinction (1950) Prof. Alexander 'Alec' Stevenson
The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 1955)
What's My Line? (1950)  Himself - Mystery Guest / ... (3 episodes, 1954-1965)
The Art Director (1949) Himself - edited from 'The Big Clock' (archive footage)
Alias Nick Beal (1949) Nick Beal
It Happens Every Spring (1949) Prof. Vernon K. Simpson / King Kelly
Miss Tatlock's Millions (1948) Cameo
Sealed Verdict (1948) Maj. Robert Lawson
So Evil My Love (1948) Mark Bellis
The Big Clock (1948) George Stroud
The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)  Simon Crawford (1 episode, 1966)
Variety Girl (1947) Ray Milland
Golden Earrings (1947) Col. Ralph Denistoun
The Trouble with Women (1947) Professor Gilbert Sedley
The Imperfect Lady (1947) Clive Loring
California (1947) Jonathan Trumbo
The Well-Groomed Bride (1946) Lt. Dudley Briggs
To Each His Own (1946) Himself - Trailer Narrator (uncredited)
The Lost Weekend (1945) Don Birnam
Kitty (1945) Sir Hugh Marcy
Till We Meet Again (1944) John
The Uninvited (1944) Roderick Fitzgerald
Lady in the Dark (1944) Charley Johnson
Ministry of Fear (1944) Stephen Neale
The Crystal Ball (1943) Brad Cavanaugh
Forever and a Day (1943) Lt. William 'Bill' Trimble
Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) Joe in Card-Playing Skit
The Major and the Minor (1942) Major Kirby
Are Husbands Necessary? (1942) George Cugat
Reap the Wild Wind (1942) Stephen Tolliver
The Lady Has Plans (1942) Kenneth Clarence Harper
Sullivan's Travels (1941) Near-collision man on studio street (uncredited)
Skylark (1941) Tony Kenyon
I Wanted Wings (1941) Jeff Young
Arise, My Love (1940) Tom Martin
Untamed (1940) Dr. William Crawford
French Without Tears (1940) Alan Howard
The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940) Dr. Timothy Sterling
Irene (1940) Don Marshall
Everything Happens at Night (1939) Geoffrey Thompson
Beau Geste (1939) John Geste
Hotel Imperial (1939) Lieutenant Nemassy
Say It in French (1938) Richard Carrington, Jr.
Men with Wings (1938) Scott Barnes
Tropic Holiday (1938) Ken Warren
Her Jungle Love (1938) Bob Mitchell
Wise Girl (1937) John O'Halloran
Ebb Tide (1937) Robert Herrick
Easy Living (1937) John Ball Jr.
Wings Over Honolulu (1937) Lt. Samuel Gilchrist
Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937) Capt. Hugh 'Bulldog Drummond'
The Jungle Princess (1936) Christopher Powell
Three Smart Girls (1936) Lord Michael Stuart
The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936) Bob Miller
The Return of Sophie Lang (1936) Jimmy Dawson
Next Time We Love (1936) Tommy Abbott (as Raymond Milland)
The Glass Key (1935) Taylor Henry
Alias Mary Dow (1935) Peter Marshall (as Raymond Milland)
Four Hours to Kill! (1935) Carl Barrett
The Gilded Lily (1935) Charles Gray (Lord Granton)
One Hour Late (1934) Tony St. John (as Raymond Milland)
Menace (1934) Freddie Bastion (as Raymond Milland)
Charlie Chan in London (1934) Neil Howard (as Raymond Milland)
Many Happy Returns (1934) Ted Lambert
Orders Is Orders (1934) Dashwood
We're Not Dressing (1934) Prince Michael (as Raymond Milland)
Bolero (1934) Lord Robert Coray (as Raymond Milland)
This Is the Life (1933) Bob Travers
Payment Deferred (1932) James Medland
-But the Flesh Is Weak (1932) Mr. Stewart - Party Guest (uncredited)
Polly of the Circus (1932) Church Usher (uncredited)
The Man Who Played God (1932) Eddie (uncredited)
Blonde Crazy (1931) Joe Reynolds
Ambassador Bill (1931) King Lothar
Bought! (1931) Charles Carter Jr. (as Raymond Milland)
Just a Gigolo (1931) Freddie
Strangers May Kiss (1931) 3rd Admirer (uncredited)
The Bachelor Father (1931) Geoffrey Trent
Passion Flower (1930) Party Guest with Letter (uncredited)
Way for a Sailor (1930) Ship's Officer (uncredited)
The Informer (1929) Sharpshooter (uncredited)
The Plaything (1929) Ian (as Raymond Milland)
Piccadilly (1929) Extra in Nightclub Scene (uncredited)
The Lady from the Sea (1929) Tom Roberts (as Raymond Milland)
The Flying Scotsman (1929) Jim Edwards (as Raymond Milland)
Moulin Rouge (1928) Theater Patron (uncredited)

Producer ( 1 credit )

Lisbon (1956) associate producer (as R.A. Milland)

Director ( 12 credits )

Hostile Witness (1968) (as R. Milland)
Panic in Year Zero! (1962)
The Dick Powell Theatre (1961) (1 episode, 1961)
Thriller (1960) (1 episode, 1961)
The Safecracker (1958)
Suspicion (1957) (1 episode, 1958)
Goodyear Theatre (1957) (1 episode, 1959)
Lisbon (1956) (as R. Milland)
A Man Alone (1955) (as R. Milland)
General Electric Theater (1953) (5 episodes, 1956-1958)
The Ford Television Theatre (1952) (1 episode, 1956)
Schlitz Playhouse (1951) (1 episode, 1957)