From the S&S archives: Johnnie Ray: Singing and traveling
WIESBADEN, Germany — Johnnie Ray, currently on a tour of military bases in Germany, says he has no plans for retirement because "I thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing. It gives me an opportunity to travel all over the world, meet new people and, I hope, entertain those who see my show."
Ray arrived from London — after a four-week stint — with his musical director, Herman Kapp, and his business manager, Bernie Lang, for a tour of the service installations.
Ray began his military bases tour at the Wiesbaden Officers Club Tuesday, followed by appearances at the Wiesbaden and Giessen NCO clubs, Thursday; the Baumholder EM Club and Hahn Air Base NCO Club, Saturday; the Munich EM and NCO clubs, Sunday; the Pirmasens EM and NCO clubs, Monday; the Rhine Main AB Rocket Club and the Wiesbaden Nimbus Club, Aug. 1. Ray will complete his tour at the Ramstein Officers and NCO clubs, Wednesday.
He was met on his arrival here by Betty Reilly, singer-actress who is also on a tour of military bases in Europe. She just finished a two-week engagement at the Astor in London and opens at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 16.
Ray will open his continental tour at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club Friday. Then on to the Italian Riviera, back through the Scandinavian countries and on to England for a tour before returning to Germany for TV commitments in the fall.
Commenting on a year's layoff recovering from tuberculosis, he said, "that illness was a blessing in disguise. I had plenty of time to think and plan my future career."
His career hasn't been all bad. He has five golden records to his credit and recorded a number of other songs, some of which haven't been released yet. The million-seller records were: "Cry," "Little White Cloud," "Please, Mr. Sun," "Walking in the Rain" and "Walking My Baby Back Home."
"The record I like best was 'Let's Forget It Now.' But it never made good. Many that I recorded with Duke Ellington were never released," added Ray.
"Despite my success as a recording artist," he continued, "I'm really a frustrated actor. I've been in several movies and hope to do some more, but I hope to find a part in the theater to my liking. I have been taking private acting lessons since I recovered from TB. I wouldn't care what the role was, as long as I felt it was right for me."
And what's right for Johnnie Ray at the moment, is work, and more work.
Asked whether he was still "crying," Ray said, "My style was considered unique. Now, come see my show."