Virginia Grey was born on March 22, 1917 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actor Ray Grey – he was one of the Keystone Kops – and director for Mack Sennett and appeared on the silent screen with Mabel Normand, Dorothy Gish and Ben Turpin, among others. He died while Virginia was still a child. One of her early babysitters was Gloria Swanson. Grey debuted at the age of ten in the silent film “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1927) as Little Eva. She continued acting for a few more years, but then left movies in order to finish her education.
Grey returned to films in the 1930s with bit parts and extra work, but she eventually signed a contract with MGM and appeared in such movies as “Another Thin Man” (1939), “Hullabaloo” (1940) and “The Big Store” (1941). She played Consuela McNish in “The Hardys Ride High” (1939) with Mickey Rooney, and in 1942 she was in “Tarzan’s New York Adventure” with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.
She left MGM in 1942, and signed with several different studios over the years, working steadily.
During her participation in WWII bond drives, she developed a close relationship with John Basilone, US Marine Medal of Honor winner, who was later killed on Iwo Jima.
She had an on again/off again relationship with Clark Gable in the 1940s. After his wife Carole Lombard died and he returned from military service, Clark and Virginia were often seen at restaurants and nightclubs together. Many, including Virginia herself, expected him to marry her. The tabloids were all expecting the wedding announcement. It was a great surprise when he hastily married Lady Sylvia Ashley in 1949. Virginia was heartbroken. They divorced in 1952, but much to Virginia’s dismay their brief romance was never rekindled. Her friends say that her hoping and waiting for Clark was the reason she never married.
She was a regular on television in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing on “Playhouse 90”, “General Electric Theater”, “The DuPont Show with June Allyson”, “Your Show of Shows”, “Wagon Train”, “Bonanza”, “Marcus Welby, M.D.”, “Love, American Style”, “Burke’s Law”, “The Virginian”, “Peter Gunn”, “The Red Skelton Show” and many others.
Although never a box office star, Miss Grey was as indomitable as she was versatile, acting in more than 100 films and 40 television shows — musicals, comedies, adventure films, westerns and romantic dramas.
She retired from the screen in the early 1970s and passed away due to heart failure at the Motion Picture and Television Retirement Home on July 31, 2004, at age 87.