Ray Collins was a prolific American actor who appeared in over 900 stage roles, dozens of films, and several television shows. He is best known for his role as Lieutenant Arthur Tragg in the popular series Perry Mason, where he played a homicide detective who often assisted the titular lawyer. But how did Ray Collins die and what was his cause of death? Here is a brief overview of his life and career, as well as the circumstances of his passing.
Early Life and Career
Ray Collins was born on December 10th, 1889 in Sacramento, California. His father was a newspaper reporter and his mother was the niece of John Bidwell, a pioneer and statesman in California. Collins developed an interest in acting at a young age, after seeing his uncle perform on stage. He made his professional debut at the age of 13 at the Liberty Playhouse in Oakland, California.
Collins worked as a vaudeville performer, a stock company actor, and a theater manager in various cities across the US and Canada. He moved to New York in the 1930s and joined the Mercury Theatre, a troupe founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. He appeared in several radio dramas produced by the Mercury Theatre, including The War of the Worlds, The Shadow, and The March of Time.
Film and Television Roles
Collins made his film debut in 1941, when he followed Welles to Hollywood and starred as Charles Foster Kane’s political rival in Citizen Kane. He continued to work with Welles in other films, such as The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, and Touch of Evil. He also appeared in films such as A Place in the Sun, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, and High Noon.
Collins transitioned to television in the 1950s and landed his most famous role as Lieutenant Arthur Tragg in Perry Mason. He played the part from 1957 to 1964, appearing in 241 episodes of the show. He also guest-starred in other shows, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables.
Cause of Death
Ray Collins suffered from emphysema, a chronic lung disease that causes shortness of breath and reduced oxygen levels. He had to use an oxygen tank during his later years and often had difficulty speaking. He retired from acting in 1964 and moved to Santa Monica, California. He died on July 11th, 1965 at the age of 75. According to NNDB,his cause of death was emphysema.
Ray Collins was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He was survived by his second wife Joan Uron and his son Junius Collins from his first marriage. He left behind a legacy of memorable performances and a reputation as one of the most versatile actors of his generation.