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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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