Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Marguerite Ray June ‘48
I was in 11th grade when I chose drama for English. Sally Rhinehart was the drama teacher. I wrote her a long letter once after I came to LA and started working, but I never heard back. Sally had just graduated from College of the Pacific. She was young. She was a great teacher. She brought out each of us, took an interest in each of us. Young and enthusiastic. Wet my appetite. I majored in drama at Cal. Bernie didn’t graduate, but he is in the yearbook in the football section. Maybe he graduated in 49? Or came back to LA to graduate.
After Cal, my mom insisted I do something practical and I discovered field of recreation. I would have graduated in 1952, but took an extra year to get a degree in Recreation specializing in Drama. Drama, dance, PE. I have been active in the drama department at Cal.
After I graduated, I worked in Berkeley as recreation director. I read in a magazine that they needed directors in Europe so I went to Germany and worked on the army bases as a program director. Then I moved back to San Francisco. There I really got the acting bug and I, along with Henrietta Harris, we had a black theater Aldridge Players- black acting co in San Francisco. I was doing plays and even an opera in Die Fledermaus. After working in San Francisco as recreation director, I decided to move to Los Angeles.
I started getting work right away on stage and in television. I never worked too much work in the movies, mostly theater and television, including “Sanford and Sons” and but 10 years on a soap opera, “The Young and the Restless” in a new role of Mamie. I was the first black to have a contract on that show. Now half the cast is black. It is one of the most popular soap operas. After “Sanford and Son” there a revived show as just “Sanford” and I was on that with Red Fox, same character and different script. I played his fiancé, the Beverly Hills widow, for a year. Then I had some health issues and retired about 7 years ago. No more acting. I had an auto accident and can’t drive anymore. You have to drive to interviews and I can’t drive. I get my pension from the Screen Actors Guild and Equity (stage) Actors Equity Association.
At Tech- I did technical work, but was never on stage. I did exercises in the classroom, scenes from plays. I was never cast in a play. When Sally got there, the drama department was new. There were only two term plays when I was there. I don’t remember a drama teacher before Sally.
I was a Delphian. That was an honor society as I recall. You were voted into it. Anita was in it before me. It was just seniors. Anita told me that I’d been chosen. It was an honor to be in it. I was the third black girl in it. Anita and I grew up together, junior high school, I wasin her wedding. She is an English teacher from College of the Pacific. She used to tell about Sally at college- and told what a great actress she was.
When I got the job on the Young and Restless, Jeannie Cooper had just died (oldest actress on the show) and she had been at college with Sally Rhinehardt! When I wrote to Sally, I told her this, but she never wrote back. I suggested we get together. Jeannie died just last year. She was on the show since it started.
We had assemblies once a month. Nate Rubin playing violin. Ralph Edwards is the only one I remember. There were very few black students, but it was not controversial. I enjoyed my time at Tech. I did not have any negative experiences. There were so few of us, but everyone got along fine. I had an argument with Ms. Vogel, my counselor, because I told her I was taking college prep and she wanted me to take commercial. “Commercial would be better for you to get a job.” My mother instilled in me that I would be going to college. Tech High at that time was a prep school for Cal, we all went to Cal. Half of the black students went to college. Gordon Coleman, his brother, Washington Burns, Hank Clarke (Henry) all went to college. Hank went to SF State and Cal and was one of first blacks to get a McDonalds franchise- in Oakland- when McDonalds was new.
We bought every yearbook, from beginning of my time at Tech Hi.