Ray Sharkey

Ray Sharkey


11/14/1952, Brooklyn, NY



Birth Name

Raymond Sharkey


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Ray Sharkey began appearing in films and television in the 1970s. Often playing the heavy, his breakthrough film was 1980's The Idolmaker. He is perhaps best known as mobster Sonny Steelgrave in TV's Wiseguy. Arrested in 1992 for drug posession, Sharkey stated later that year that he had…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Ray's birthday falls under the Year of the Dragon.

    • Ray's Zodiac Sign is Scorpio.

    • In 1988, Ray won the Founder's Award
      for his work on Wiseguy (1987) at the Viewers for Quality Television Awards.

    • In 1981, Ray won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy for: The Idolmaker (1980).

    • In 1982, Ray was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for: The Ordeal of Bill Carney (1981).

    • Ray was arrested July 30, 1992 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for drug possession. Canadian customs officials, making a routine inspection of incoming cargo at the airport, discovered small amounts of cocaine and heroin in a black envelope being sent from Los Angeles, California to Sharkey, who had been in Canada filming a guest stint on The Hat Squad for only three days. Police searched his hotel room and found an additional $550 worth of drugs. He was jailed and later released on bail. He was promptly fired from The Hat Squad and replaced by actor Kim Coates.

    • Ray is believed to have developed the AIDS virus through sharing dirty needles.

    • Ray was involved in four drug-related car wrecks (two required microsurgery on his eyes).

    • Ray's father, also named Ray, a professional drummer, abandoned the family when he was 5 years old. He later died in 1984.

    • At Ray's worst his cocaine and heroin addiction cost him $400 a day.

    • Ray Sharkey: (on becoming an actor) I was kind of bored and didn't know what to do. It was either join the Marines and go to Vietnam or go down to the Village and go to acting school. So, I opted for the latter.

    • Ray grew up in Brooklyn's tough Red Hook neighborhood.

    • Jack Lemmon's performance in 1962's Days of Wine and Roses was a strong influence on Ray's decision to become an actor.

    • Ray was half-Italian and half-Irish.

    • Ray studied acting at the H.B. Studio in New York City for four years.

    • Ray died at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

    • Ray had a daughter, Cecelia, with former wife actress Carole Graham.

    • Ray was married twice. First to actress Rebecca Wood from 1984-1986. Then to Carole Graham from 1988 to 1990.

    • Ray was best known for his role on the hit show Wiseguy, he played Mob Boss Sonny Steelgrave.

    • Ray was 5' 8" (1.73 m) tall.

  • Quotes

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  • Ray Sharkey

    Ray Sharkey was one of the best talents of our time. His performances reminded me of thre greats from the past. People like Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. It is a shame that we will never experience the full potential of this great actor due to his untimely death. His performance as Sonny Steelgrave in TV's "Wiseguy" was the best I've seen in decades. Wish I could share my love for his talent with his family.

    Sent his agent a letter attempting to reach Ray immediately after the "Wiseguy" series, without ever receiving a response. This is one actor I would loved to have met personally.

    John Mancino

    Lancaster, CAmoreless
  • Would have been great ...

    Ray Sharkey had a lot of potential as an actor, but unfortunately had his career and life cut short due to a serious drug addiction that resulted in him contracting the AIDS virus.

    Ray had an edge, passion, and really got in to his roles. He made you believe that he was the person he was portraying. Which doesn't seem to be a common feat for many actors.

    I deeply regret the fact that we'll never get to see what he would have made of himself if he had lived, and his life story is one of the many sad defining reasons why everyone should avoid ever trying illegal drugs.moreless