Aldo Ray, Actor, Is Dead at 64; Portrayed Lovable Tough Guys
By PETER FLINT
Published: March 28, 1991
Aldo Ray, a husky, sandpaper-voiced film actor who excelled in military roles and in comedy, died yesterday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Martinez, Calif. He was 64 years old and lived in Crockett, Calif.
He died of throat cancer and complications from pneumonia, the associate director of the hospital, Sheila Cullen, said.
Mr. Ray specialized in portraying thick-witted but lovable tough guys in combat epics like “Battle Cry” (1955), “Men in War” (1957) and “The Naked and the Dead,” the 1958 film version of Norman Mailer’s World War II novel, and “Green Berets,” John Wayne’s 1968 movie about the Special Forces in Vietnam.
He also appeared in “The Marrying Kind” and “Miss Sadie Thompson.” He portrayed a boastful athlete in “Pat and Mike,” an escaped convict in “We’re No Angels” and a Georgia rustic in Erskine Caldwell’s “God’s Little Acre.”
But after the 1950’s Mr. Ray found good roles hard to come by. “In some ways the tough soldier role locked me in,” he said in a recent interview.
The actor, originally named Aldo DaRe, was born on Sept. 25, 1926, in Pen Argyl, Pa. He grew up in northern California, where his family moved in his infancy. In World War II, he was a Navy frogman and took part in many Pacific landings, including the invasion of Okinawa.
He studied political science at the University of California and was the local sheriff in his hometown of Crockett when spotted by a Columbia Pictures talent scout. Harry Cohn, the studio’s chief, tried to rename him John Harrison, but he insisted on retaining a bit of his Italian heritage, and they compromised on “Ray.”
Mr. Ray was married and divorced three times. Surviving are two sons, Eric DaRe, of Beverly Hills, who plays Leo Johnson in the television series “Twin Peaks,” and Paul DaRe, of Oakland, Calif.; a daughter, Claire DaRe, of Minnesota; his mother, Maria, of Crockett; three brothers, Guido, of Crockett; Mario, of Sierra Madre, Calif., and Louis, of Glendale, Calif.; a sister, Regina Ogando, of Winers, Calif., and a granddaughter.