In Remembrance: Ellen Drew

     Ellen Drew, a character actress who appeared in numerous films through the 30s and 40s has passed away on Wednesday, December 3, 2003. She was 89.

     Born Esther Loretta Ray in Kansas City, Mo. on November 23, 1915, Drew later moved to Chicago with her family. After winning a beauty pageant she relocated to Hollywood to try acting. When her initial attempts to get work failed, she took a job behind the counter of C. C. Brown’s on Hollywood Boulevard. However, character actor William Demarest convinced her to give show business another try.

     Drew landed herself a position as a contract player for Paramount Studios, earning $50 a week. Billed as Terry Ray, when she got any billing at all, Drew appeared in several small roles, mostly as secretaries, in such films as The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936), The Accusing Finger (1936), Night Of Mystery (1937) and Dangerous To Know (1938).

     When Drew received her first big break starring opposite Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray and Donald O’Connor in the 1938 musical Sing You Sinners, she changed her name to Ellen Drew. After her appearance in the film, she found herself starring opposite several other stars of the time including Jack Benny in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), Dick Powell in Christmas In July (1940) and Joel McCrea in Reaching For The Sun (1941).

     In the 1950s she transitioned into a series of westerns appearing with George Montgomery in Davy Crockett, Indian Scout (1950), Vincent Price in The Baron Of Arizona (1950) and Randolph Scott in Man In The Saddle (1951). Her last film was 1957’s Outlaw’s Son.

     Drew also appeared on several television series in the 1950s including Ford Television Theater, Lux Video Theatre, Perry Mason and Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.