Lorna Gray, Queen of Shorts and Serials at Columbia and Republic Pictures, Dies at 99

Daughter of Don Q (1946) - Lorna Gray - Photofest-H 2017
Republic Pictures\Photofest

Also billed as Adrian Booth, she appeared opposite John Wayne, Buster Keaton, Boris Karloff, The Three Stooges and Clayton Moore.

Lorna Gray, who appeared on the big screen with John Wayne, Buster Keaton, Boris Karloff and The Three Stooges and, billed as Adrian Booth, starred in many 1940s Republic Pictures serials and Westerns, has died. She was 99.

The actress died Sunday at her home in Sherman Oaks, her niece, Pam Loe-Watson, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Born Virginia Pound on July 26, 1917, in Grand Rapids, Mich., she won the Miss Michigan beauty pageant and worked as a model, singer and in a vaudeville show before making her movie debut in Paramount Pictures' Hold 'Em Navy (1937), starring Lew Ayres.

She signed with Columbia, which changed her name to Lorna Gray, and worked with Wayne in Red River Range (1938), with Keaton in the short Pest From the West (1939) and with Karloff in The Man They Could Not Hang (1939).

The dark-haired beauty also fooled around in The Three Stooges shorts You Nazty Spy! (as a spy named Mattie Herring), Rockin' Thru the Rockies, Three Sappy People and Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise — classics one and all — and appeared in the Columbia cliff-hangers Flying G-Men (1939) and Deadwood Dick (1940).

The actress began the next stage of her career as Adrian Booth at Republic, which claimed her as a new "discovery." She starred in such serials as Perils of Nyoka (as the ruthless Vultura, a villainess with a pet ape, opposite Clayton Moore), Captain America (as the hero's girlfriend, Gail Richards) and Federal Operator 99.

She also appeared alongside Monte Hale in several Westerns, including Out California Way (1946), Along the Oregon Trail (1947) and Under Colorado Skies (1947).

She retired from acting after appearing in two films released in 1951, The Sea Hornet and Yellow Fin, then devoted many years to the World Adoption International Fund, an adoption agency founded by actress Jane Russell. She also became an ordained minister.

The actress was married to actor David Brian (Intruder in the Dust, The Damned Don't Cry, Million Dollar Mermaid, TV's Mr. District Attorney) from 1949 until his death in 1993.

In addition to Pam, survivors include her other nieces Roberta, Robin, Rebecca, Patricia and Penny and her caregivers of 37 years, Carlos and Lucy Iraheta and their family.