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Photograph of Mr Harry Swanson of Swansons Hotel, and a photograph of Mr Carlos Mitchell of The Plaza.

Reference: L/A/75/A2/POR/56/2

Subject: Portraits

File number: 56

Page number: 2

Date: 6 July 1963 - 9 July 1963

Personal View of Dick Ray interviewed by Geraldine des Forges. He was born in London in 1935. Had a happy childhood-has memories from when the second world war started. His father wanted to get out of London and went to the railway station and asked for 4 tickets to anywhere and they ended up in Worthing. A bomb was dropped on Worthing-remembers an explosion and being covered in blood-they then left Worthing and went to Reading where he completed his school life. They moved back to London in 1950 when he was 15. London was getting back on its feet after the war-started getting his interests in theatre at this time. His father had touring shows around the country at this time-he was on the stage all his life-his father remembered going to the public houses as a small boy and reciting poetry to make money. His father later went in to production. He enjoyed going in to production-was a much better thing for him to do than being on the stage. Peter Sellers was related to him-he was 10 years older than him-remembers him taking him out in the pram. They moved in opposite Peter Sellers when he was trying to get the Goon Show off the ground. He was a large character. He was very generous but could be pensive and serious. Always knew he was going to go into the theatre. Got into the theatre through dancing. All the Hollywood stars were versatile-they could sing, dance and act-it's not the same anymore. First Record-Peter Sellers sings George Gershwin. In 1957 Harry Swanson invited him over to produce a show at the Watersplash. In the winter of 1957 Harry Swanson invited him to become manager of the Watersplash and he moved over and stayed ever since. Shows that are put on now are similar to those he put on then. Produced the floor show at the Watersplash as if it was a stage show. Stayed at the Watersplash until 1966. The audience has changed especially in the last couple of years-people don't stay as long any more-there used to be at least 10 shows on the island at a time and people used to go and see a couple of shows whilst they were visiting. He invented touring shows in Jersey which really took off. People now come for shorter holidays and don't see as many shows. Jersey was a good stepping stone for famous entertainers. Second Record-Shirley MacLaine with If My Friends Could See Me Now. His wife was in show business-she was in the first show at the Watersplash. Harry Swanson was looking for a singer and his wife was booked and then he was asked to produce the show. His children Rachel and Daniel Ray work at Caesar's Palace. Tommy Swanson bought the Opera House which was a cinema in 1958/59 and opened it in the early 60s after renovation work. In 1963-1966 he produced shows at the Opera House. Ray Cooney approached the Swansons to lease the theatre to put on plays-he eventually moved away from Jersey and his manager Alan Tredgitt took over the Opera House. When he died in 1976 he was given a seasonal lease for the Opera House. It was a successful time for the theatre. In 1980 he was given a long lease and he ran it all the time. At this time he guaranteed the amateur dramatics community that they could still use the theatre. The theatre is almost constantly in use. There is a high amount of talent in the island and with the advent of the Jersey Arts Centre and the increase in productions of Fort Regent. He thinks that the Opera House is unique and beautiful-just the right size. It takes time for a theatre to get a character like the Opera House. It is expensive to keep running the theatre-the States have been helpful-a loan was made for £200,000 for immediate repairs. If he could choose any people in the world to sing he would bring over Kiri Te Kanawa, Placido Domingo or Luciano Pavarotti but it would cost a great deal of money. London City Ballet would be good to bring over. He likes the traditional ballet better than modern. Enjoys the modern musicals in London-Andrew Lloyd-Webber changed the face of musicals. Third Record-The Bolshoi Ballet playing Carmen by Bizet. There is a lot to do in Jersey-if shows aren't advertised in advance people don't come. Is putting cabaret on at Caesar's Palace-is having a continental night at the Caesar's Palace on Tuesdays. Likes to encourage Jersey talent. Is doing shows in the West End-the Rank Organisation contacted him to put on some shows in London that they sell to travel companies. Is making changes to the shows-has brought in stage managers and a choreographer. When people have talent you recognise it instantly. Fourth Record-Tiger Rag with Louis Primer and Keeley Smith. Enjoys working for the Variety Club of Jersey-many different fundraising events taking place. Is amazed by the generosity of the public. Has started working on the refurbishment of the theatre but the theatre will remain open. End of Recording.

Reference: R/07/B/15

Date: 31 May 1992

JEP cutting: Obituary of Dick Ray

Reference: US/1308

Date: 2015