Ray Bidwell Collins was born December 10, 1889 in Sacramento, CA, into a family already immersed in the dramatic arts (his father was a newspaper drama editor. He began his theatrical career at the early age of 14, and after many years of hard work, eventually secured his place in Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre.

During the War of the Worlds broadcast, Collins portrayed Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm where Martians landed in Grover’s Mill, N.J., as well as the reporter who stands witness to the destruction of New York City – until he is overwhelmed by the poisonous black smoke of their walking machines!

He cemented himself as a solid character actor in film (Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, You’re in the Navy Now), and eventually moved on to television. He is best known for his role as the tough, gruff-voiced Lt. Tragg on the Perry Mason television program. Collins was no stranger to playing tough guy roles – for many years he played opposite Welles as Police Commissioner Weston on The Shadow.

LISTEN to an episode of The Shadow.

(featuring Collins as Commissioner Weston)

Watch Collins as “Lt. Tragg” from the hit television series, Perry Mason.

Sadly, Collins eventually died of emphysema. He was 75 years old.

~ by Peter Overstreet on May 16, 2008.

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