Peter Ratray Thinks
"All Actors Are a Bit Odd"
Daytime TV Magazine, March 1972
by Sidney London
Article Provided By Wanda
"Sometimes the really crazy ones are the best actors....But I'm not willing to pay that price"
Peter Ratray, the blond handsome actor who plays Stuart Pierce on Bright Promise, lives in a temple. "And there are very definitely vibrations in this house. It used to be the original Temple for the Theosophy Society, built in 1914.
"This whole main section of our house is where the artists would meditate. The Krishna Murti talked to the students in what is now our bedroom, down there," he said pointing to a lovely formal garden sloping down from his front door, "was a meditation garden. As you can see, it's hollowed out, and was the beginning of what is now the Hollywood Bowl."
"I don't know if this is true, but it has been told as true. There was a woman who founded the Theosophy Society named Annic Besant. She got a vision one night that Hollywood would become a 'sin city' and to pack up her followers and go to the Ojai desert. Now it's the main headquarters for the society, a huge organization of several million members. And so they just left. Left this building...."
Peter Ratray (he pronounces it R'Tray) smiled at his incredibly beautiful wife, Ann Willis, as he rather self-consciously tried to explain that it 'sounds sort of hokey,' somehow hoping that Ann would come to the rescue (she did a little later) " but Ruth St. Denis appeared here, and Ted Shawn....they had concerts right here in the courtyard. The Theosophy Society was closely associated with the arts in the Twenties."
Peter, a complex young star, who has a dry sense of humor and a deep sense of what is important to him, could not help being enthusiastic about a home they have been able to not only redecorate impeccably, but that has a heritage that inspires them both. They are actors to the core, and they understand and complement each other...and a happier union couldn't be found.
Ann, on the surface, was a giggly, friendly hostess, hovering about constantly re-filling coffee cups, interjecting little asides that put the interviewer at ease, and every once in a while would come in with some scrawny cat that was 'demented."
Peter and Ann don't have any children yet, but they have adopted all kinds of dogs and cats, raccoons and deer, and yet 'these are the demented ones, but they have come a long way' said Ann, as one of the cats curled up onto her shoulder and snuggled into her long red hair.
"They were badly abused," explained Peter, "and we didn't know that 'Ralph' and 'Eunice ' were sisters when we named them."
"But still we've had eight years in analysis, and they've only had three," laughed Ann, a musical comedy star on Broadway, whose most recent TV appearance was Mission Impossible and who will soon be seen in Alan Arkins's new motion picture, Dead Head Miles.
But did we hear correctly? How could this enchanting twosome be involved in analysis? Peter settled down and seriously spoke about some of the difficulties of young people who sometimes are unprepared properly for the adult world.
At 16, Peter had already completed two years at Ohio State University. A very brilliant child, always drawn to the theatre (his major was drama in college) and he went alone to New York at age seventeen fully prepared that his easy success in school would automatically open doors for his career as an actor. it didn't work out that way immediately. He had the usual set-backs that any actor has (any actor that has his press agent tell you otherwise is kidding you) but he kept at it, off-Broadway, then Broadway, a national company of How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (one of his
favorite roles) and on to things he just barely can manage to name such as The Love Statue and Kiss Me, Miss Me, Miss Me, two motion picture 'awfuls' that were airing at the time, 'but I'm sure one of these days they will be seen on TV and they were so mild compared to today's market'.
But did he really feel the necessity of analysis? "Yes" was his simple answer. He now goes five days a week, as does Ann. "Why?" was our very personal question. "Do you feel at odds with your society, with your world?" "Yes" as his answer. "All actors are a little bit odd or they would not get into this profession. Sometimes the really crazy ones are the best actors, but not necessarily the most successful."
Peter then spoke of a brilliant but tragic Broadway actress infrequently seen on television, "I don't know of a finer living actress in the world today, and I don't know an unhappier one. I am not willing to pay that price."
That pretty much settled that, and our interview ended with a delightful tour of the house that Peter and Ann have put so much love into.
Peter is a 'chair nut," collects them, hangs them (if they are small enough), on his kitchen wall, and one of Ann's first gifts to him before they were married at the Universalist Church on Central Park West, New York, five years ago, was a lovely picture she painted of a tiny chair suspended in blue space that now hangs in the dining room.
"We don't know the meaning of all that, but chairs do indicate, "comfort," don't they? Peter Ratray, a beguiling young man, honest, trustworthy....he was the second person to hear about Pamela Murphy's baby (Sandra Jones on Bright Promise right after she told her own husband. And if anybody has 'problems', they should be Peter's kind. A loving, beautiful wife, a swinging Mercedes Benz, a house to be talked about in more ways than one, and a career that has intrigued many of us....and he's done it all in just 28 years!
[Peter Ratray played Delia's stockbroker, Dan Fox, on Ryan's Hope in 1979.]
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