His name is Gene Anthony Ray but the world came to know him as Leroy, the sexy and talented dancer on the 80's tv series Fame.
I don't know where my fascination with celebrities from the 80's is coming from because I've written about Sylvester, Jermaine Stewart, and now Gene, but there was something about him that excited me in so many different ways even as a 5 year old.
Other than Solid Gold, Fame had to be one of the first times I'd ever been exposed to dance. Before being cast on Fame Gene had very little dance training and actually attended the famous High School for the Performing Arts for a year before he was kicked out. It's accurate to say that he had raw dance ability and a performance quality that could never be learned in a studio, you either have it or you don't and Gene had it.
After the cancellation of Fame Gene found very little work as a professional dancer, he spent most of his time in Italy struggling to open his own dance school with very little success. He found himself homeless at times, addicted to drugs, and later HIV positive. He died of a stroke in November of 2003.
I came across a very moving tribute to him that I would like to share with you guys, view it here . I think it's so amazing how someone you've never met can have such a huge impact on your life. 20 years later when I watch Gene dance I remember the feeling I had when I saw Fame for the first time, when I took my first dance class, and when I relaized that living for me was dancing. Damn! I'm inspired all over again.
R.I.P. Gene Anthony Ray(1962-2003)