Ola Ray: Thriller Model in Playboy

May 7, 2009

Meet Ola Ray, costar in the legendary Michael Jackson video called ‘Thriller.’ See photos, video and a biography of the former Playboy model and actress remembered for her famous scream in Thriller, whose name is sometimes misspelled as Ola Raye.

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UPDATE: Ola Ray made a brief statement on June 25, 2009 in the aftermath of the sudden and tragic Michael Jackson death. You can read the story and see the video of her remarks here.


She was an icon of the 1980s, Ola Ray Thriller girl who would have been yet another forgotten aspiring actress, singer and model were she not immortalized in the 1983 landmark 14-minute Michael Jackson music video Thriller.

In the news today more than 25 years later, the 48-year-old Ola Ray Playboy model, formerly, and Thriller costar, who is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Ola Raye, is suing for breach of contract; for royalties she alleges Michael Jackson has not paid for the music video which has enduring popularity. The Ola Ray Michael Jackson lawsuit was filed in Santa Monica, California.

In an interview with New York Daily News her lawyer Jason Feldman said:

“She just wants to get her fair share of payments from this extremely successful project that she’s very proud of…She did receive some payments early on, but we don’t believe they were complete, and they were never timely.

“We’re expecting it to be a significant sum that she’s owed,” he said. “The video continues to sell a lot worldwide and was just released again for it 25th anniversary.”

He went on to say that Ola Ray Thriller costar may be due a “substantial sum” as the Michael Jackson Thriller video content and images including Ola Ray pictures have been licensed to DVDs and video games.

As a biography, Ola Ray was born in St. Louis, Missouri in August 26, 1960, so her age is 48. Her name is mistakenly misspelled as Ola Raye. Her stepfather James Moore was a U.S. Air Force serviceman, her mother, Ruth, a nurse. She has eight siblings, Her stepfather was stationed in Japan and thus she spent her teen years growing up in that country where she sang in a rock band and did some modeling.

She was originally a model and actress in the early 1980s. At that time, Ola Ray measurements 34-26-35 and weight 105 and height 5’2″ were ideal as Ola Ray pictures from that era reveal.

She was an unknown as Miss June 1980 centerfold. The Ola Ray Playboy photos can be seen here.

They preceded her casting in the legendary music video. She had a few bit parts in early 1980s movies including 48 Hours, Night Shift and Body and Soul.

As such, it was quite a coup for the unknown Ola Ray Playboy model and actress to be a costar in the Michael Jackson Thriller video directed by celebrated Hollywood director John Landis with a voiceover from horror movie legend Vincent Price. The music video went on to win a Grammy Award and ranks at No. 1 on MTV’s list of the 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made, and is commonly considered to be the greatest music video of all time.

Ola Ray but voluntarily left the business because she refused to give “sexual favors” to producers, according to a 2002 interview she gave to People magazine.

Ola Ray’s drug involvement led to the 1992 arrest for possession of cocaine. Subsequently, she spent nine months in rehab in Tarzana, California.

Presently, she lives in Sacramento, California where, as a single mother, she is raising her 14-year-old daughter. She said in a 2007 interview that she has plans to put out a book and to start a music career. In the same interview, Ola Ray talked about the Michael Jackson Thriller video, reflecting upon its popularity on the 25th anniversary of its premiere.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Ray said. “I am so excited that people are still talking about it, still remembering it.

“I didn’t know that I was going to be a part of history, but that is the way it turned out. I’m thankful,”

Here are more Ola Ray photos. Watch Ola Ray Thriller video below.

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