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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

HIV Profile: Gene Anthony Ray

By Justin B. Terry-Smith

February 10, 2011

Justin will regularly profile someone famous or well known who has either been infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This is his choice for February.

Actor/Dancer Gene Anthony Ray (May 24, 1962 - Nov. 14, 2003)

Ray was an American actor, choreographer and dancer. He is best known for his portrayal of the street-smart dancer Leroy in the 1980 motion picture Fame and the television spin-off which aired from 1982-1987.

Born in Harlem, New York on May 24, 1962, Ray grew up in the neighborhood of West 153rd Street. He attended the New York High School of the Performing Arts, the inspiration for the film Fame, but was kicked out after one year. "It was too disciplined for this wild child of mine," his mother has been quoted as saying.

Ray also studied dance at the Julia Richman High School, where he would audition for Fame choreographer Louis Falco. Much like his Fame character, Ray had little professional training, but a raw talent that won him his role for the film.

Despite being a hit as a film, the 1982 television spin-off of Fame only lasted one year on NBC before being canceled. The show was later syndicated by MGM Television from 1983 to 1987. Ray also appeared in the films Out Of Sync (1995) which was directed by his Fame co-star Debbie Allen and the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg comedy Eddie.

Ray died from complications of a stroke on Nov. 14, 2003, in Manhattan, New York. He was HIV positive at the time of his death.

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See Also
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: T. G. (East Africa) Fri., Feb. 25, 2011 at 2:18 am UTC
I met Gene Anthony Rae on a television show set in 1988 when he was appearing with "the Kids from Fame" group. I was a dancer working in Italian television. He was overweight and bloated at the time. Just the shadow of the sexy physique he had in the original movie. The next year the "Kids From Fame" along with Gene Anthony Rae took our place on a show at Channel 5 in Milan and I was out of a job with almost no notice. I always blamed backroom deals with Berlusconi. I was sad to hear that he had a rough and tumble existence in Milan and contracted HIV. I guess his self destructive nature eventually overcame him and lead to his death from HIV related complications in 2003. Gene Anthony Rae only crossed my path briefly, but changed the direction in my professional life. I soon left Italy. Having lost other friends who were professional dancers and performers to HIV, Rae was another added to the list. He was Lucky, but ever so unlucky too.
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Comment by: robert (kansas city missouri) Thu., Feb. 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm UTC
I just thought he was so sexy when he danced just a muscular masculine man that could sure move when he wanted to
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Justin's HIV Journal

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)

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