Johnny Ray Had Sex In Bathrooms!

Categories: Gaaaaayyyyyy

ray_johnny1p.jpg

Surely you've seen There's No Business Like Show Business, the overstuffed but enjoyable 1954 movie musical with Ethel Merman and the gang as a traveling vaudeville clan with multiple outfit changes.

Well, one of the offspring is an effeminate guy who practically pops off the screen as if he were a drag queen out of costume.

The character has no ostensible love interests -- not even a fake girlfriend -- and he ends up going into the clergy, as Ethel and company fret and worry about his fate.

The part was handily played by Johnny Ray, the light-in-the-loafers, fascinatingly girlie pop singer (with the big hit "Cry") who easily could have become a priest himself.

According to Wikipedia:

"Ray was arrested twice for soliciting men for sex. He quietly pled guilty and paid a fine after the first arrest, in the restroom of the Stone Theatre burlesque house in Detroit, which was just prior to the release of his first record in 1951.

"The incident wasn't reported in newspapers, and very few people outside Detroit knew about it during his sudden rise to stardom in 1952.

"Ray went to trial following the second arrest in 1959, also in Detroit, for soliciting an undercover officer in a bar called the Brass Rail, which has been described variously as attracting traveling musicians and attracting gay people.

"Dorothy Kilgallen was a strong support for Ray during the solicitation trial in Detroit in December 1959, possibly communicating by telephone with the district attorney or judge.

"Ray's fate was decided by a jury composed entirely of older women, one of whom ran to Ray to console him when he fainted upon hearing the 'not guilty' verdict."


Sounds like he was the original George Michael!

By the way, Ray was later immortalized in the song (and video for) "Come On Eileen," but I know for a fact that he was not responsible for the come on Eileen.

But he was definitely a friend of Dorothy!

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15 comments
RS
RS

I just saw "There's No Business Like Show Business" for the first time and was watching this strange guy on screen jaw-jacking his way through a number like he just snorted a pound of coke. Johnnie Ray.

RS
RS

I just saw "There's No Business Like Show Business" for the first time and was watching this strange guy on screen jaw-jacking his way through a number like he just snorted a pound of coke. Johnnie Ray.

Damien W
Damien W

Oooo, I just picked up the mostly-out-of-print biography Kilgallen by Lee Israel, after seeing a few 3AM showings of What's My Line on Game Show Network. Can't wait to tear into it to see what juicy bits there are about Johnny. (Well, that, and the fact that she was murdered  when she was about to expose evidence that would have torn the Warren report to shreds and help prove that there was a conspiracy in JFK's assassination.) But yeah, Johnny in the bathroom too!

mjm
mjm

and he was best man at Judy Garland's last wedding shortly before her death

there's a photo of him sitting on Ava Gardner's lap from the early '50s that was in Confidential Magazine that got Sinatra pissed off...

Ralph
Ralph

With Merman, Dan Dailey, Mitzi Gaynor and Ray, we either give in to the garish splash of "No Biz Like Show Biz" or we fight it every silly inch of the way. After Monroe arrives and sings "After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It" and makes fun of herself with "Lazy," we’re probably waving the white flag. Merman’s "you big lug" acting style isn’t so harsh, and what a wonderful time it is whooping over her wardrobe; Dailey looks so much like Burt Lancaster that he could be his twin; Donald O’Connor proves his worth as a hoofer; and Gaynor in the only role of her career in which she doesn’t grate. Then there’s Johnnie. Are there any derogatives available to describe our reactions when he’s belting out "If You Believe"?

About Ray, here is a link worth the time: http://www.retrospectmag.com/a...

Monsieurpatric
Monsieurpatric

Mr. Ray is the sole unbearable element in There's No Business Like Show Business.  Loving the frolic and I. Berlin stuff goes better fast forwarding through Johnny's syruppy numbers.  Marilyn and Mitzi are gorgeous.

MSpeer
MSpeer

Ah, yes, Johnny Ray, famous tea-room queen. He had some great records, courtesy of Columbia Records R&D (was it Mitch Miller?).

Was rough for him once Elvis hit and then the whole era that followed. His career was basically over by 1960. Dorothy Kilgallen was a force to be reckoned with but public tastes had changed so her influence on the public was negligible. Add to that the fact that Ray never had much of a voice to begin with and was plagued with hearing problems. He just should have been more discreet in any event regarding the sex stuff.

Fame is tough. Not that I know!

Love The Little White Cloud that Cried, Please Mr. Sun, Walkin' My Baby Back Home, and Cry (which is a great song with back up by the Four Lads). TMI? Ah, well.

Musto
Musto

PS: I was just told that Johnny was the Best Man at Judy Garland's wedding to Mickey Deans. So he REALLY was a friend of Dorothy.

Musto
Musto

In the same movie, Marilyn Monroe does "Heatwave," which she has to coerce the Merman clan NOT to do, even though they were all set to do so. Similarly, the number was set for Mitzi Gaynor to sing in the film, but the powers that be took it from her and gave it to Marilyn.

Hollywould
Hollywould

Johnny Ray was so WEIRD!!!! Thank you for posting this creepy little tidbit.

Musto
Musto

Thanks to Angelo Pitillo for the tip.

MSpeer
MSpeer

Was happy to read your post. I became interested in Kilgallen when that book came out (was it the 80's?). I had a copy but it's long gone! The only place to see her work on What's My Line was, at the time, at The Museum of Broadcasting--but now there are many episodes posted on YouTube as well. She was an interesting character: headstrong, insecure, vain, and intelligent. She lived in an interesting time. I guess she must've been a little bit of a fag hag as well. See the picture with her and Ray. She met an untimely end and we'll never know how it really happened.

Rc61austin
Rc61austin

Obviously, Sinatra should have known he had absolutely nothing to worry about concerning Gardner and Ray. 

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

I dunno, Ava had a fling with dreamboat Farley Granger around that time, which annoyed the heck out of Sinatra...

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