Ann Ratray, actor who became coveted drama coach, dies at 81

NEW YORK (AP) — Ann Ratray, a Broadway actor who later became a sought-after youth drama coach, has died.

Ratray died June 9 surrounded by family and friends at her New York home after a long illness, her husband of nearly 55 years, actor Peter Ratray, said Wednesday. She was 81.

Peter Ratray said he spent her final days reading her dozens of letters from the young actors she had mentored who could not visit her because of the pandemic, thanking her the spark and inspiration she gave them.

"She altered the course of so many lives,” Peter Ratray said.

Ann Willis Ratray was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, to a family with seven siblings that struggled financially. As Miss Rhode Island in 1958, she competed in the Miss America Pageant and won the “Miss Congeniality” award. She used the prize money to pay for schooling that would include New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Her Broadway credits included 1964's “Mame” with Angela Lansbury, and 1981's revival of George Bernard Shaw's “Candida,” with Joanne Woodward.

In 1990 she changed career paths when her son, Devin, was cast as Buzz, Macaulay Culkin's bullying big brother, in “Home Alone.”

Serving as acting coach to her son, she found she had a knack for the job, and in the coming years would guide many young careers in New York.

Her students included Merritt Wever who won Emmys for “Nurse Jackie” and “Godless,” YaYa DaCosta of “Chicago Med” and Kaitlyn Nichol of “black-ish.”

Along with Peter, Devin and his older brother Luke, Ann Ratray is survived by her sister, Sue Zoglio, brothers David and Douglas Willis, and grandson Riley Ratray.

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