Ray Duval, former house manager of the Prince Music Theater, died Oct. 14 of a heart attack. He was 74.
Duval, born on Sept. 18, 1938, was a long-time Philadelphia resident.
Before he moved into the theater world, he studied child development, earning a certificate in 1980 from Temple University’s College of Health Professionals and Social Work and a bachelor’s in childcare and training from Temple in 1986.
At the time of his death, Duval was not working for a particular company but was an on-call house manager for a number of theaters.
According to his lifemate of 46 years, Ron Hunter, Duval was heavily involved in film and theater and would volunteer for any such efforts throughout the area, including film and theater festivals.
He was an avid reader and, according to fellow Barrymore judge and longtime friend Dr. Henrik Eger, “he read one book after another, the foundation of a lifelong passion for literature. To his last day, Ray always carried at least one book with him.”
Hunter said Duval had a huge library, and Duval’s friends and relatives left his memorial at the Prince packed with books from his collection, his farewell gift.
He added that Duval was adamant in what he believed and never backed down.
“He never wavered and he would argue. He wasn’t offensive, he just kind of stuck to his guns.”
Hunter said if Duval liked someone, that person was in Duval’s “corner” forever.
“He liked a lot of young people and he always did everything he could to make sure they got to do whatever they wanted to do,” Hunter said. “He would try and get them more work in theater. If you were good, he wanted people to know that you were good and he wanted people to see that.”
Duval had a passion for helping people and joined the fight for all voices to be heard.
Hunter said Duval lobbied in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., on behalf of underprivileged people and was active in a number of social-justice issues, including during his time volunteering with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.
“In the early 1980s, the group went to Harrisburg on behalf of voiceless, disenfranchised sections of the population. Ray, continuing within the tradition of his social-activist Jewish family, became one of PUP’s front men and fearlessly spoke up against the often-brutal injustices minorities faced,” Eger said. “Throughout his life, Ray was as actively involved in social reform as he was in good theater.”
According to Hunter, Duval helped co-found and direct the Red Lion Day Care/Day Camp and helped produce children’s shows with the company.
“He presented cut-down versions of Broadway shows for the Red Lion kids at the end of each season. Later, he scripted his own shows, with the staff performing for the children and their families. The parents loved both Ray and his shows,” Hunter said.
In addition to Hunter, Duval is survived by his sister, Marian; brother, Herman; and several nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and a cousin, Dr. Alan Shapiro.
“People of all ages loved and admired him for his kindness, his engagement and his boundless energy and generosity. Ray, a modern Renaissance man, will be greatly missed,” Eger said.