Ray Collins

Ray Collins

Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, USA
Death 11 Jul 1965 (aged 75)
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Garden of Heritage, Crypt 909
Memorial ID 1891 · View Source
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Actor. Fondly remembered by his fans as ‘Lt. Arthur Tragg,’ the aging LAPD homicide detective known for his wide-brimmed hat and dry wit, who was a regular player in the “Perry Mason” weekly CBS television series. His stern features and glaring eyes are also familiar to old movie fans from his prolific career as a character actor, with over 80 film appearances in the 1940’s and 50’s. He usually played gruff authority figures, such as business and political leaders, policemen, military officers, etc. The descendant of gold rush-era pioneers, he was born Raymond Bidwell Collins in Sacramento, California. He was the son of a newspaper drama editor, which may have influenced him to pursue a stage career at an early age. He established his own theatrical stock company in Vancouver, British Columbia at age 14, which led to vaudeville and eventually the Broadway stage. He was married to Margaret Marriott and they were divorced in 1924. In 1926 he married Joan Uron and they had a son Junius. An established stage performer by the 1930’s, he ventured into radio and began a rewarding association with the Orson Welles Mercury Theatre Group as the ‘world’s last living radio announcer’ in Welles’ legendary “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast of 1938. He then moved to Hollywood and joined the Mercury troupe in 1939. Collins appeared in “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940, with Henry Fonda) and played ‘Boss Jim Gettys’ in the classic film “Citizen Kane” (1941, with Orson Welles). After the Mercury Group broke up in the early 40’s, Collins kept busy with Hollywood film work and established a solid reputation as a character actor. His long list of film credits includes “The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942) as ‘Jack Amberson;’ “Two Years before the Mast” (1944) as ‘Gordon Stewart;’ “The Best Years of Our Lives”(1946) as ‘Mr. Milton;’ “The Batchelor and the Bobby-Soxer” (1947) as ‘Matt Beemish;’ “The Heiress” (1949, with Olivia de Haviland) as ‘Jefferson Almond;’ and “The Desperate Hours” (1955, with Humphrey Bogart) as ‘Sheriff Masters.’ Collins was also a regular in the Ma and Pa Kettle movies in the early 1950’s as ‘Jonathan Parker.’ His last big screen portrayal was ‘Adair’ in “Touch of Evil” (1956). In television, he played ‘Professor Merriweather’ in the “Halls of Ivy” series (1954). He also guest starred on such series as “You Are There,” “Science Fiction Theatre,” “Zane Grey Theater,” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” Collins began the most famous role of his career, as the resolute Lt. Tragg, in the weekly “Perry Mason” series on CBS in 1957, and was to appear in a total of 121 episodes. He was increasingly debilitated by emphysema from 1961 on, so Wesley Lau was brought in as ‘Lt. Andy Anderson’ to assist Collins in playing the police roles and eventually to replace him. Collins made his final appearance on “Perry Mason” in ‘The Case of the Capering Camera,’ Episode 196, which first aired on January 16, 1964. He died of emphysema on July 11, 1965 in Santa Monica, California at age 75.

Bio by: Edward Parsons

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1891
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ray Collins (10 Dec 1889–11 Jul 1965), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1891, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .