Ann Willis Ratray, who appeared on Broadway and TV before becoming a drama coach for young people including her son, Home Alone‘s Devin Ratray, died June 9 at her home in New York following a lengthy illness. She was 81.
Her death was announced by her husband of nearly 55 years, the actor Peter Ratray, known for his roles on Another World, Ryan’s Hope and in other television series.
Among Ann Ratray’s many former students were Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie), Kaitlyn Nichol (black-ish), YaYa DaCosta (Chicago Med) and David Alvarez, who will appear in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story.
“Ann Ratray is the reason I am an actor,” tweeted Catch-22 star Graham Patrick Martin. “Forever grateful.”
Born Ann Willis in Cranston, Rhode Island, Ratray was named “Miss Congeniality” in the 1958 Miss America Pageant, and used the prize money, in part, on training at New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She would go on to appear in 1968 on Broadway in Mame starring Angela Lansbury, a 1981 revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Candida starring Joanne Woodward, and, in 2003, served as a consultant on Bobbi Boland, a play about an aging Miss America starring Farrah Fawcett (the show closed in previews).
In 1990, when her son Devin was cast as Buzz, the brother of Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin in Home Alone, Ratray served as the boy’s acting coach, and soon began teaching other child actors as well.
Ratray is survived by husband Peter, sons Devin and Luke, a sister, two brothers and a grandson.