Riley, Jay 'Flash'


Less-known performers of the European Cult Movies
Pic-List (list with profile pictures)
User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 19:24

La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte4.jpg
Jay 'Flash' Riley in La pecora nera (1968)
Jay 'Flash' Riley was a small-part actor (among other talents), active in Italian films from the early 1960's to the mid-70's and in American films and TV from the mid-70's to late 80's.

He was born James Merriman Riley on June 24th 1916 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA.[1]

He began his acting career in 1932 and first appeared on Broadway in 1941 in Orson Welles production of The Native Son. He appeared in a number of major Broadway musical productions in the 1940's including Carmen Jones, On the Town and Finian's Rainbow.

He turned up in Italy in the early 1960's to appear in the international production of Cleopatra and wound up staying there until the mid-1970's, appearing sporadically in small roles in films, mostly uncredited, and forming his own theatre troupe with which he successfully toured Europe. While in Italy he was also involved with English dubbing.

As told to Johan Melle, Rodd Dana described him as: "an interesting and very funny, bright and charismatic gentleman by the odd name of Flash Riley. A delightful fellow from New York. Didn’t do a lot, but when he was in the sala, I remember it was a party of jokes and ha-ha’s that would go on for hours. An absolute ‘wild-man’. Mel Welles used to call him the ‘Madder than the Hatter Flash-er-oony’, while Roger Browne said of him: "Another was Jay Riley, dancer and entertainer. Jay was loved by all! When he entered a room, everyone started laughing and clapping. He told of once that he was dancing across the stage when his G-string broke. Brought down the house. I backed one of his revues and actually got my money back! He was also in one of my films, shot in Switzerland."

By 1975 he was back in the US, where he would remain for the rest of his life, appearing in sporadic small roles in films and TV, as well as several more big Broadway musical productions such as The Wiz and Bubbling Brown Sugar. His last-known screen appearances date from 1988.

Jay died in Los Angeles on September 20th 1988, at the age of 72.

A big thanks to Johan for his invaluable input identifying roles and providing information for Jay's biography.

Filmography

1963
  1. Cleopatra .... Reveller (uncredited)

    1965
  2. Superseven chiama Cairo .... Henchman (uncredited)

    1966
  3. Il grande colpo dei 7 uomini d'oro .... One of the general's soldiers (uncredited)
  4. Le spie amano i fiori .... Jay Morgan (uncredited)
  5. The She Beast .... The She Beast (credited as "Jay Riley")

    1967
  6. Peggio per me... meglio per te .... Party guest (uncredited)

    1968
  7. La pecora nera .... Félix Désiré Tombalassa (credited as "James Riley")

    1974
  8. Moses the Lawgiver (TV mini-series) Ep. 2 .... Overseer of slaves (uncredited)

    1975
  9. Good Times (TV series) S. 3, ep. 8: "Michael's Big Fall" .... Mr. Jenkins (credited as "Jay Merreman Riley")
  10. Sanford and Son (TV series) S. 5, ep. 12: "Ebenezer Sanford" .... Mr. Small (credited as "Jay Merreman Riley")

    1976
  11. The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (TV movie) .... Man in park (credited as "Jay M. Riley")

    1981
  12. Taxi (TV series) S. 3, ep. 16: "Louie bumps into an Old Lady" .... Judge (credited)
  13. The White Shadow (TV series) S. 3, ep. 8: "Mister Hero" .... Card player (credited)

    1987
  14. A Gathering of Old Men (TV movie) .... Jameson (credited)
  15. Frank's Place (TV series) S. 1, ep. 5: "Frank joins the Club" .... Mr. Broussard (credited)

    1988
  16. A Year in the Life (TV series) S. 1, ep. 21: "Peter Creek Road" .... Porter (credited)
  17. Memories of Me .... Tango (credited)

Titles to check
  • I dannati della terra (1970) History.sffs.org

No Flash!
Titles where Jay is listed as appearing somewhere online, but cannot be found. There always has to be one!
  • Electric Angel (1981) IMDb with no role. There is a "Jay Riley" credited, however our man is nowhere to be seen and the film was shot entirely in Greece at a time when our man was resident in the US, so the credit presumably belongs to another actor.
Notes and sources
1. Much of Jay's biographical information comes from his profile on the website for the Online Archive of California
Last edited by PeplumParadise on 28/04/2024, 15:57, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 19:44

Cleopatra (1963) as Reveller.

Jay says he came to Italy after getting the "call" to appear in this film. Given that his role is only a background one, it would seem most likely that the "call" would have come from friends living in Rome (he must certainly have known Archie Savage, Wilbert Bradley and Van Aikens from his years working on Broadway), saying there were roles available in the film for black actors, rather than the production company.
Cleopatra.1963.1080p.BluRay.x265-RARBG4a-side.jpg
Cleopatra.1963.1080p.BluRay.x265-RARBG4.jpg
Cleopatra.1963.1080p.BluRay.x265-RARBG5.jpg
Cleopatra.1963.1080p.BluRay.x265-RARBG6.jpg
Cleopatra.1963.1080p.BluRay.x265-RARBG7.jpg
Identification by Johan
Last edited by PeplumParadise on 06/04/2024, 21:23, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 19:52

Superseven chiama Cairo (1965) as Henchman
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER8.jpg
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER5.jpg
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER6.jpg
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER7.jpg
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER9.jpg
Superseven Chiama Cairo (1965) ITA+ENG+GER13.jpg

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 19:56

Le spie amano i fiori (1966) as Jay Morgan
riley2.jpg
riley3.jpg
riley4.jpg
riley.jpg
riley5.jpg
The.Spy.Who.Loved.Flowers.196622.jpg

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:19

The She Beast (1966) credited as "Jay Riley", totally unrecognisable under prosthetics as the witch of the title, The She Beast.

Johan informed me that "It's him for sure (the producer Paul Maslansky identifies him in the DVD commentary track and tells some stories about how 'Flash' amused himself during lunch breaks by going around scaring people while still in full witch make-up)".
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]16.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]18.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]21.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]12.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]13.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX]20.jpg
She.Beast.1966.1080p.BluRay.x264.AAC-[YTS.MX].jpg

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:22

Peggio per me... meglio per te (1967) in a background role as a Party guest
party guest.jpg

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:27

La pecora nera (1968) credited as "James Riley", as Félix Désiré Tombalassa.

This is easily the biggest role of his film career (or the biggest where he's seen identifiably anyhow!).
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte4.jpg
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte2.jpg
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte9.jpg
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte10.jpg
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte11.jpg
La Pecora Nera  film completi in italiano 2^parte12.jpg
La Pecora Nera   film completi in italiano 1^parte.jpg

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:30

Moses the Lawgiver (1974 TV mini-series) Episode 2, as Overseer of slaves.
Moses - Jay Flash Riley1.jpg
Moses - Jay Flash Riley2.jpg
Moses - Jay Flash Riley3.jpg
Moses - Jay Flash Riley4.jpg
Thanks to Johan for providing the images

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:37

Good Times (1975 TV series) Season 3, episode 8: "Michael's Big Fall", credited as "Jay Merreman Riley", as Mr. Jenkins
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley1.jpg
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley2.jpg
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley3.jpg
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley4.jpg
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley5.jpg
Good Times - Jay Flash Riley6.jpg
Thanks to Johan for providing the images

User avatar
PeplumParadise
Moderator
Posts: 33046
Joined: 05.02.19
Location: Spain
Name: Nick
Contact:

Riley, Jay 'Flash'

Post by PeplumParadise » 06/04/2024, 20:42

Sanford and Son (1975 TV series) Season 5, episode 12: "Ebenezer Sanford", credited as "Jay Merreman Riley", as Mr. Small
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley1.jpg
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley2.jpg
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley3.jpg
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley4.jpg
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley5.jpg
Sanford And Son - Jay Flash Riley6.jpg
Thanks to Johan for providing the images

Post Reply