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Fay Ray

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Information about Fay Ray

Profile image of Fay Ray

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Red), Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Let's Have Fun.

Birthplace

Born:
10/11/1919
Birth Location:
Natchitoches, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Red), Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Let's Have Fun.

Birthplace

Born:
10/11/1919
Birth Location:
Natchitoches
See how Fay Ray is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Fay Ray was born in 1919 in Louisiana. Life for Ray was not easy. At the age of eleven, Ray decided to leave a hard life of picking cotton. Dressed as a boy, she rode the train to Shreveport. There, she joined a Vaudeville circuit and traveled the nation. On the circuit, Ray learned to tap dance from some of the best dances of her day. At the age of sixteen, Ray left the vaudeville circuit to sing and dance solo.

In 1943, Ray moved to New York where she found steady work as a chorus line dancer. Ray performed at Café Zanzibar, Club Ebony, 845, the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. Ray’s chorus line performed with premiere bands like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Lunceford who wrote Just for Dancers for Ray’s chorus line.

During World War II, Ray stopped dancing for a time, moved to Providence, Rhode Island and became a certified welder at Walch Kaiser, welding ship seams for the navy. Ray danced in the first black USO show and traveled to Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. When she turned fifty years old, Ray retired from dancing, spent two years welding on the Alaskan Pipe Line and drove a New York taxi-cab.

In 1985, Ray joined a senior dance group with other former Harlem chorus girls, the Silver Belles. Managed by Geraldine Rhodes-Kennedy, the group began rehearsing at the Cotton Club, made their debut performance at the Latin Casino and have been performing ever since. The Silver Belles have appeared in Atlantic City and on Dan Rather’s 48 Hours. In 2006, the Silver Belles were featured in a documentary, Been Rich All My Life, about their lives, produced by filmmaker Heather Lynn MacDonald.

Ray passed away on September 14, 2013

Fay Ray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 18, 2007.

See how Fay Ray is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fay Ray's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fay Ray lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fay Ray describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fay Ray remembers running away from home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fay Ray describes her relationship with her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fay Ray talks about her parents' relationship
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fay Ray describes her early education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fay Ray describes her travels in Italy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fay Ray remembers her guardian in Alexandria, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Fay Ray recalls being sexually abused as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Fay Ray remembers learning to play the piano
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Fay Ray recalls the influence of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Shirley Temple
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fay Ray remembers being abused by the police in Alexandria, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fay Ray recalls hitchhiking to Winnfield, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fay Ray remembers her guardian in Winnfield, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fay Ray remembers joining a traveling vaudeville company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fay Ray talks about settling in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fay Ray recalls how she earned a living in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fay Ray remembers a recently deceased friend
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fay Ray recalls joining a community of deaf mute entertainers in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Fay Ray talks about her life in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Fay Ray remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fay Ray remembers Pearl Bailey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fay Ray recalls performing as a chorus girl on Broadway
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fay Ray talks about the jazz nightclubs of New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fay Ray describes the working conditions for chorus girls in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fay Ray remembers New York City's Harlem neighborhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fay Ray remembers working as a taxicab driver in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fay Ray recalls her transition to a career as a welder
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fay Ray remembers living in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fay Ray recalls her secretarial position at Triangle Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Fay Ray reflects upon her work ethic
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Fay Ray remembers her friendship with Joe Louis
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Fay Ray talks about her apartment building in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Fay Ray describes her travels in Europe
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fay Ray recalls her return from Europe to New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fay Ray talks about her role in the documentary 'Been Rich All My Life'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fay Ray recalls her Christmas vacation in Sweden
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fay Ray describes her mentorship of young entertainers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fay Ray remembers joining the Silver Belles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fay Ray talks about performing with the Silver Belles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fay Ray reflects upon her experiences with the Silver Belles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fay Ray recalls the Silver Belles' performance at the Apollo Theater in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Fay Ray describes her plans for the future
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Fay Ray describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Fay Ray describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fay Ray dances the shimmy sham with interviewer Adrienne Jones
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fay Ray dances the shimmy sham