Constance Vera Browne, Baroness Oranmore and Browne (née Stevens; 14 February 1915 – 24 September 2006), commonly known as Sally Gray, was an English film actress of the 1930s and 1940s. Her obituary in The Irish Times described her as "once seen as a British rival to Ginger Rogers."
Constance Vera Stevens
14 February 1915
Holloway, London, England, UK
|Died||24 September 2006 (aged 91)|
London, England, UK
|Other names||Baroness Oranmore and Browne|
Dowager Lady Oranmore and Browne
|Spouse(s)||Dominick Browne, 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne (1951–2002) his death|
According to one obituary, "In the Thirties she was a charming soubrette of light movies and musical comedy. After a break from performing, she emerged in the mid-Forties as a sultry beauty who starred in a series of moody dramas and potent thrillers."
Born Constance Vera Stevens in Holloway, London, Gray was the daughter of Charles Stevens, who drove a motor cab, and his wife, Gertrude Grace. Her mother was a ballet dancer and her grandmother a "principal boy" in the 1870s. Her father died when Gray was young.
She trained as a child at Fay Compton's School of Dramatic Art, and began acting on stage at the age of 10. Gray made her professional stage debut at the age of twelve in All God's Chillun at the Globe Theatre in London, playing an African boy. When she was 14, Gray appeared in a minstrel show at the Gate Theatre in London. She made her film debut with a bit part in The School for Scandal (1930).
Gray returned to films in 1935, with The Dictator (1935). She could also be seen in Cross Currents (1935), Radio Pirates (1935), Lucky Days (1935), and Checkmate (1935). She returned on stage and was spotted by Stanley Lupino, who fell in love with her.
Gray had the female lead in Cheer Up (1936) with Stanley Lupino. She had leads in Calling the Tune (1936), Cafe Colette (1936), and Saturday Night Revue (1937) with Billy Milton. In 1936 she was earning £150 a week. Gray had support roles in Lightning Conductor (1937), a thriller; Over She Goes (1937) with Lupino; Mr. Reeder in Room 13 (1937), a non musical; and Hold My Hand (1938) with Lupino. Gray was the female lead in Sword of Honour (1938), The Saint in London (1939) with George Sanders, The Lambeth Walk (1939) with Lupino Lane, and A Window in London (1940), a non musical film with Michael Redgrave. Gray was in Olympic Honeymoon (1940) then had the female lead in The Saint's Vacation (1941). She had a sensitive role in Brian Desmond Hurst's romantic melodrama Dangerous Moonlight (1941). The same year she appeared in the West End musical Lady Behave which had been written by her co-star Stanley Lupino. The show had to close early because of Lupino's illness.
Gray returned to the stage to star in My Sister Eileen (1942) with Coral Browne. Lupino died, leaving Gray £10,000. Gray had a nervous breakdown, resulting in her retirement for a number of years.
Gray returned to the screen in 1946 and made her strongest bid for stardom in a series of melodramas. They include the hospital thriller Green for Danger (1946), Carnival (1946), They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) and The Mark of Cain (1948). Gray then made Silent Dust (1948) and Edward Dmytryk's film noir piece Obsession (1949), in which she plays Robert Newton's faithless wife. Her final film was the spy yarn Escape Route (1952).
RKO executives, impressed with Gray, authorised producer William Sistrom to offer her a long-term contract if she would move to the United States. John Paddy Carstairs, director of The Saint in London, also thought she could be a star. However, she declined the offer and instead retired in 1952 after getting married.
Gray married The 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne, an Anglo-Irish peer, on 1 December 1951, and lived in County Mayo, Ireland. The couple kept the marriage secret until the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II, at which she appeared with her husband.
In the early 1960s they returned to England and settled in a flat in Eaton Place, Belgravia, London. The couple had no children.
|1930||The School for Scandal||Bit Part||(uncredited)|||
|1935||The Dictator||Minor Role||Released as Loves of a Dictator in USA, (uncredited)|
|Cross Currents||Sally Croker|
|1936||Cheer Up||Sally Gray|||
|Calling the Tune||Margaret Gordon|
|1937||Cafe Colette||Jill Manning||Released as Danger in Paris in USA|
|Saturday Night Revue||Mary Dorland|||
|Over She Goes||Kitty|
|Mr. Reeder in Room 13||Claire Kent||Released as Mystery of Room 13 in USA|||
|Hold My Hand||Helen Milchester|
|1939||Q Planes||Minor role||Released as Clouds Over Europe in USA, (uncredited)|
|Sword of Honour||Lady Moira Talmadge|
|The Saint in London||Penny Parker|||
|The Lambeth Walk||Sally||Released as Me and My Girl in USA|||
|1940||A Window in London||Vivienne||Released as Lady in Distress in USA|||
|Olympic Honeymoon||Miss America|||
|1941||The Saint's Vacation||Mary Langdon|||
|Dangerous Moonlight||Carol Peters Radetzky||Released as Suicide Squadron in USA|||
|1946||Green for Danger||Nurse Linley|||
|1947||They Made Me a Fugitive||Sally||Released as I Became a Criminal in USA|||
|The Mark of Cain||Sarah Bonheur|||
|1949||Silent Dust||Angela Rawley|||
|Obsession||Storm Riordan||Released as The Hidden Room in USA|||
|1952||Escape Route||Joan Miller||Released as I'll Get You in USA|||
- "Sally Gray".
- "British rival to Ginger Rogers and wife of Lord Oranmore". The Irish Times. 7 October 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- Tom Vallance (2 October 2006). "Sally Gray". independent.co.uk. The Independent. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Goldman, Lawrence (2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. pp. 452–453. ISBN 9780199671540. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- Ronald Bergan (5 October 2006). "Obituary: Sally Gray". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- Lentz, Harris M. III (24 October 2008). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 146. ISBN 9780786452118. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- "New Film Star". The News. XXV (3, 797). Adelaide. 21 September 1935. p. 5. Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "CHORUS GIRL'S FAME". The Examiner. XCV (87). Tasmania, Australia. 23 June 1936. p. 6 (DAILY). Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "STAR GOES UP IN THE WORLD". The Sun (9361). New South Wales, Australia. 4 January 1940. p. 14 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "SALLY GRAY". The Maitland Daily Mercury (21, 424). New South Wales, Australia. 13 December 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "£10,000 LEFT TO YOUNG ACTRESS". The Courier-Mail (2857). Brisbane. 31 October 1942. p. 2. Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Sally Gray – the Actress". Pevensey and Westham Historical Society. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- "An actress insured against love". The Sun (2615). Sydney. 7 June 1953. p. 15. Retrieved 30 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Aaker, Everett (2013). George Raft: The Films. McFarland. p. 154. ISBN 9780786466467. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- Film Star Who's Who on the Screen 1938. London, UK: Amalgamated Press. December 1937.
- Tom Vallance (3 October 2006). "Husky-voiced, sultry beauty of Forties thrillers who retired from acting to marry a peer". The Independent.