The grave of Stockport born Miss Gabrielle Ray is to be restored by the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America.
Ray was arguably the first of what we might today call pin up “supermodels”, posing for thousands of postcards in the first decade of the twentieth century and was widely thought to have been the most photographed woman of her time.
She was born in Stockport in 1883 and first appearing on stage aged 10, in a production of “Miami” at the Princess’s Theatre in London.
She continued touring and acting throughout the late 1800’s until she was spotted in 1903 by famous theatre manager and impresario, George Edwardes. She perform for him in a string of successful productions, including his biggest hit, a reworking of Franz Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ which opened at Daly’s on in June 1907.
She announced her retirement five years later to get married, divorcing in 1915 when she attempted to revive her career. However times had changed and she never matched her earlier success.
She descended into problems with alcohol and depression and entered a mental home in Surrey in the 1930’s where she remained until her death in 1973.
Her grave is at Egham in Surrey and in 2008, Stockport recognised her contribution with the erection of a blue plaque to mark her 125th anniversary.