Friday, February 8, 2013

Ray Sharkey

Like so many gifted actors before him, Ray Sharkey traded in a promising career for the demon known as drug addiction. His sickness cost him his reputation in Hollywood and eventually led to his death in 1993 from AIDS.

Had he taken a different path, Ray Sharkey could have rewritten the history books when it came to Oscar and Emmy nominations. Instead, we're left with a few brilliant performances, a handful of really good ones and the sad reality of what could have been.

In the 1970's he started appearing in movies like Who'll Stop the Rain, with Nick Nolte and television shows like Barney Miller, but it wouldn't be until 1981 before he would get the role that would really put him on the map - that of the driven rock promoter, Vinnie Vacarri  in The Idolmaker. That role earned him a Golden Globe, and should have gotten him an Oscar nomination, but sadly that didn't happen.

Ray Sharkey  proved once again that he was the real deal in the made-for-television movie, The Ordeal of Bill Carney, were he played a man paralyzed from the neck down trying to be a single father, as well as probably his most famous role - the gangster, Sonny Steelgrave,  in the television hit, Wiseguy.

It was his reckless reputation, though, that made Hollywood leary of giving him good roles in A-list movies, making his resume misleading to the talent that he possessed. Ray Sharkey could have gone far, but his legacy is now more of a lesson to be learned, instead of an artist who should have contributed more.


  1. Marco A. S. FreitasMarch 21, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    He is excellent in a little-seen Bmovie named THE RAIN KILLER, photographed by future Spielberg collaborator J. Kaminsky...the film has other ´not-so-famous´ yet talented thesps, like Rob Miano and Dave Beecroft.

  2. He is a monster. In 1987 he learned he had HIV, he told no one. For the next six years he continued to have unprotected sex with hundreds of women. Two women have sued his bankrupt estate for infecting him, how many more do we not know of?

    I can't believe you are praising this serial killer.

    1. Anonymous - I am praising his work as an actor. Nothing more. That's what this blog is about. There are several actors that I have written about that are/were not good people, but they have contributed good performances. That's what I write about here.

  3. Ray Sharkey did some great work in Idolmaker and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately he was a self absorbed schmuck from Gowanus that thought of absolutely nothing but himself. He will remain a forgotten dick.

  4. Does anyone remember the movie Ray Sharkey carried a woman over to the balcony and dropped her to her death? I want to watch that again and I can't remember what movie it was from.

  5. I'd have to agree with the earlier comment describing Starkey as a serial killer as he was. I really liked Idolmaker and Wiseguy at the time but now they are unwatchable for me. I don't think the drugs give him an excuse either. For some it might be but given his egotistical, self indulgent way he treated having AIDS and his subsequent infecting of at least 2, and probably, more women it's likely he thought he was invincible with regards to drugs also and that is how he got hooked. Not only did he have sex with 100s of women after becoming infected he also married and fathered a child.

    This isn't a question of being a good person. There's is no question Ray Starkey was not a good person. It's very likely he was a reckless murderer. His performances deserved to die with him.

  6. My first real boyfriend was a dead-ringer for Ray, and was also a less-than-stellar individual. No matter what I ever watched him in, I could never get past how much he reminded me of my ex and it would ruin it.

  7. It needs to be pointed out that the woman who claimed she was infected with HIV by Ray is still alive. Elena Monica is now known as Elena Garofalo. She is alive and well and living in Vero Beach. She has four young children. Ray denied that he infected her and it should also be pointed out that his wife and daughter both tested negative for HIV.

    To those calling Ray a murderer, he wasn't. He was a fantastic actor and his work should be seen.

  8. @Anonymous: OMG! This is baffling to me? Regardless of whether Monica is still alive or has children or is 6 feet under, how can you say Sharkey was NOT a murderer? He admittingly infected 2 women and one has died. Saying that his work is good is fine, but denying he's a murderer makes one wonder what kind of denial has taken hold of you.

  9. Elena Monica is one of the two women in question and she's still alive. I have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever online that anyone died because of Sharkey. You say one did. Name please?
    If I was wrong then I'm sorry and I take it back but I haven't seen any evidence of this yet. His ex Carole Graham and his daughter were HIV negative. His manager said any others in question were fine and HIV free. Sharkey denied infecting anyone.

    I'll back down on defending him too much but a number of people have spoken very positively about Sharkey since he died including Ken Wahl, Jonathan Banks, Michael Chiklis and Taylor Hackford.
    I'm still a fan of his acting work.