He’s Australia’s longest-serving soap star and one of Summer Bay’s most iconic faces, let’s take a look at actor Ray Meagher’s life away form the cameras
Ray Meagher holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running soap opera star in Australia thanks to his more than 30 years as Home And Away’s beloved Alf Stewart.
The 77-year-old actor’s status as one of Australia’s most storied TV actors has been solidified by the soap opera’s dramatic storylines and never-ending turns.
While it’s difficult to picture Ray’s career leading him anywhere other than Summer Bay, some of his followers may not be aware that he nearly became a prominent sports figure for an Australian rugby side.
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Let’s look at the Gold Logie Award winner’s life off-camera, which has many of its own dramatic storylines, as he prepares to commemorate 35 years on the popular show.
Ray Meagher explained in 2019 how his career could have gone in a drastically different direction despite setting a Guinness World Record for being Australia’s longest-serving soap star.
The now-77-year-old had tried out for Australia’s national rugby union team, the Wallabies, before joining the long-running Channel Seven series.
Ray played club rugby in Queensland when he was a young adult, and then he played in a few games at the state level before being called to try out for the Wallabies during their 1969 tour of South Africa.
Ray’s prospects of donning the green and gold jersey were ended during this trial when one of the selectors just shook his head in reference to him.
Ray told Confidential, “I didn’t deserve to go anyway, but I think it’s a really humorous story.” After his sporting aspirations came to an end, Ray opted to join a friend in a pantomime, where he caught the acting bug.
What follows is history.
You know they belong together – Ray certainly thinks so!
The actor married his long-term partner and former nurse Gilly Meagher in a low-key secret ceremony in 2010 and the actor has often claimed she “saved his life.”
Speaking about his nuptials, he admitted the pair kept it small as they had both been married before.
“When you’ve both been there before, you don’t want fuss and carry-on and all that,” Ray told New Idea.
“We just went away and did it, and then gradually told a few people who mattered to us. We’re both very happy about it.”
Ray claims he never had his own family because he put his work first, despite the fact that his soap opera character Alf has fathered four children on the show. He does, however, get along well with his stepdaughter.
I enjoy that I get to talk to my stepdaughter Rebecca, who is in her early 40s, at least once a week and go out to breakfast or brunch with her when the Home And Away schedule allows, which is about once every two weeks.
When Ray underwent a triple heart bypass in 2019, Gilly’s background as a nurse was crucial to his recovery.
The Home And Away star had chest pain when he was sent to the hospital in 2019, and there, doctors discovered three significant coronary artery blockages.
He received a triple heart bypass right afterwards, and even though the procedure was judged successful, Ray underwent another procedure seven months later due to continued discomfort.
It was simply the result of terrible lifestyle for 40 years and excessive enjoyment, he admits.
Ray didn’t let the extensive operation slow him down; eight weeks later, he was back at work.
He declares, “I’m a pretty pragmatist sort of a man; I just get on with it.
Ray has cut back on some of his vices and now makes sure to get his daily steps in, but he isn’t willing to let a few health scares ruin the fun.
He acknowledges, “I drink a lot less beer now, but I still occasionally have a little bit more than is considered good.
“You know when you get together with friends and have a little chat and a drink or two? I occasionally still enjoy those nights.”
As well as a few lifestyle tweaks, Ray cites his wife of 10 years Gilly – who previously worked as a nurse – as a major factor in his recovery.
“She was a life-saver,” he says of his adoring spouse. “And she keeps me on the straight and narrow now.”