Marguerite Ray, Who Portrayed the 1st Black Regular Character on The Young and the Restless, Dead at 89

Marguerite Ray (1931-2020) in Dynasty (1981)
Marguerite Ray (1931-2020) in Dynasty (1981)
Photo: CBS Television Distribution

Marguerite Ray, most known for being the first Black actress to portray the character of Mamie Johnson on the popular soap opera The Young and the Restless, has died at the age of 89.


Per the East Bay Times, Ray died in Los Angeles on Nov. 18. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mamie Johnson was the first Black regular character on The Young and the Restless.

The Young and the Restless opening theme / YouTube

“I started getting work right away on stage and in television. I never [booked] too much work in the movies, mostly theater and television, including Sanford and Sons [but spent] 10 years on a soap opera, ‘The Young and the Restless’ in a new role of Mamie. I was the first Black [person] to have a contract on that show. Now half the cast is Black. It is one of the most popular soap operas,” Ray wrote in an essay in 2015 for her alma mater’s (Oakland Technical High School) publication, the Oakland Technical Centennial.

On Ray’s career, THR further reports:

She also had a notable role in Sanford, playing upper-class widow Evelyn Lewis in the short-lived sequel to Sanford & Sons that lasted two seasons from 1980 to 1981, and Jane Matthews on Dynasty for three episodes in 1989. Ray also appeared in a host of other television shows, including Quincy M.E., The Rockford Files and Ironside, in a career that spanned five decades. Her last credit was the Bill Bellamy sitcom Men, Women & Dogs in 2001.

Outside of acting, Ray was an active board member of a number of advocacy groups including the Kwanza Foundation, Jenesse Center and The Actors Fund.

Ray has a host of other notable credits including, but not limited to: The Cosby Show, Bewitched, The Odd Couple, Good Times, Roots: The Next Generations and more.

Ray is survived by her sister Jacqueline (James) Jackson, her sister-in-law, Cynthia Ray, as well as several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. The East Bay Times has confirmed that due to circumstances arising from COVID-19 and social distancing protocols, a celebration of life for Ray will be postponed.


Rest in Power, Marguerite Ray.