Biography

Talented Missourian Ellen Drew. born as Esther Loretta Ray, was the daughter of an Irish barber. She worked various jobs (accountant, salesgirl) to support her family until her fresh-faced good looks and high-wattage smile earned her a couple of beauty pageant trophies. Encouraged to try her luck in Hollywood, she was discovered in somewhat typical Lana Turner fashion. While working at an ice cream parlor, customer William Demarest took notice of her and was instrumental in having her put under contract at Paramount Studios in 1936. Initially billed as Terry Ray, she was groomed in starlet bits for two years until finally given a role she could sink her teeth into in the Bing Crosby musical Sing, You Sinners (1938). Her hair was changed from brunette to auburn (sometimes blonde) and her moniker changed from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. Brighter roles came her way with If I Were King (1938), which clinched her celebrity, Women Without Names (1940) and Buck Benny Rides Again (1940). Ellen seemed destined for top-flight stardom, but somehow it didn't happen. She never managed to distinguish herself among the bevy of Hollywood beauties on display and so remained on the outer fringes for most her career. Despite fine roles in fine movies, notably the Preston Sturges classic Christmas in July (1940) and the Dick Powell starrer Johnny O'Clock (1947), Ellen's film career went on a steep decline. In the 1950s she transferred her talents to TV before retiring the following decade. Married four times, including writer/producer Sy Bartlett, she left one son and several grandchildren when she passed away in 2003 at age 88 in Palm Desert, California.

Talented Missourian Ellen Drew. born as Esther Loretta Ray, was the daughter of an Irish barber. She worked various jobs (accountant, salesgirl) to support her family until her fresh-faced good looks and high-wattage smile earned her a couple of beauty pageant trophies. Encouraged to try her luck in Hollywood, she was discovered in somewhat typical Lana Turner fashion. While working at an ice cream parlor, customer William Demarest took notice of her and was instrumental in having her put under contract at Paramount Studios in 1936. Initially billed as Terry Ray, she was groomed in starlet bits for two years until finally given a role she could sink her teeth into in the Bing Crosby musical Sing, You Sinners (1938). Her hair was changed from brunette to auburn (sometimes blonde) and her moniker changed from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. Brighter roles came her way with If I Were King (1938), which clinched her celebrity, Women Without Names (1940) and Buck Benny Rides Again (1940). Ellen seemed destined for top-flight stardom, but somehow it didn't happen. She never managed to distinguish herself among the bevy of Hollywood beauties on display and so remained on the outer fringes for most her career. Despite fine roles in fine movies, notably the Preston Sturges classic Christmas in July (1940) and the Dick Powell starrer Johnny O'Clock (1947), Ellen's film career went on a steep decline. In the 1950s she transferred her talents to TV before retiring the following decade. Married four times, including writer/producer Sy Bartlett, she left one son and several grandchildren when she passed away in 2003 at age 88 in Palm Desert, California.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Female

Known Credits 58

Birthday 1915-11-23

Day of Death 2003-12-03

Place of Birth Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • Terry Ray
  • Esther Loretta Ray

Acting TV ShowsMovies

1957 Perry Mason (1 episode)
1957 Outlaw's Son as Ruth Sewall
1955 The Millionaire (1 episode)
1951 Man in the Saddle as Nan Melotte
1951 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (3 episodes)
1951 The Great Missouri Raid as Bee Moore
1950 Lux Video Theatre (1 episode)
1950 Stars in My Crown as Harriet Gray
1950 Cargo to Capetown as Kitty Mellar
1950 The Baron of Arizona as Sofia de Peralta-Reavis
1950 Davy Crockett, Indian Scout as Frances Oatman
1949 The Crooked Way as Nina Martin
1948 The Man from Colorado as Caroline Emmet
1948 The Swordsman as Barbara Glowan
1947 Johnny O'Clock as Nelle Marchettis
1946 Crime Doctor's Man Hunt as Irene Cotter / Natalie Cotter
1946 Sing While You Dance as Susan Kent
1945 Man Alive as Connie McBride
1945 Isle of the Dead as Thea
1945 China Sky as Louise Thompson
1944 That's My Baby! as Betty Moody
1944 Dark Mountain as Kay Downey
1944 The Impostor as Yvonne
1943 Night Plane from Chungking as Ann Richards
1942 Ice-Capades Revue as Ann Porter
1942 My Favorite Spy as Teresa 'Terry' Kyser
1942 Star Spangled Rhythm as Ellen Drew (uncredited)
1942 The Remarkable Andrew as Peggy Tobin
1941 The Night of January 16th as Katherine "Kit" Lane
1941 Our Wife as Babe Marvin
1941 The Parson of Panamint as Mary Mallory
1941 Reaching for the Sun as Rita
1941 The Monster and the Girl as Susan Webster
1940 The Texas Rangers Ride Again as Ellen 'Slats' Dangerfield
1940 The Mad Doctor as Linda Booth
1940 Christmas in July as Betsy Casey
1940 Buck Benny Rides Again as Joan Cameron
1940 Women Without Names as Joyce King
1940 French Without Tears as Diana Lake
1939 Geronimo as Alice Hamilton
1939 The Escape as Reporter
1939 The Gracie Allen Murder Case as Ann Wilson
1939 The Lady's from Kentucky as Penelope 'Penny' Hollis
1938 If I Were King as Huguette
1938 Sing, You Sinners as Martha Randall
1938 You and Me as Cashier
1938 Cocoanut Grove as Radio Station Receptionist
1938 Dangerous to Know as Secretary
1938 Scandal Street as (uncredited)
1937 Night of Mystery as Secretary
1937 Make Way for Tomorrow as Usherette (uncredited)
1937 Murder Goes to College as Lil
1936 College Holiday as Dancer on Train
1936 The Accusing Finger as Wife
1936 The Big Broadcast of 1937 as Telephone Girl (as Terry Ray)
1936 Lady Be Careful as Girl in Sailboat
1936 Hollywood Boulevard as Terry Ray - Casting Office Secretary
1936 Rhythm on the Range as Party Guest

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