Hugh Gray

Alfred Hitchcock's best friend

Sep 4, 1900
Feb 13, 1981


Little is known or written about Gray in the context of Alfred Hitchcock and information about him is rare despite him being a very interesting character and having a deep and life-long relationship with the director.

The two have met each other at St. Ignacius College. Just like young Hitch, Gray also was a chubby, anti-social boy definitely on the nerdy side. Because both of them were largely introverted outcasts, they found a common language and got along well. According to Hugh, Alfred used to spend class breaks outside, standing by the wall and not talking to anyone. Gray's wife though once said that they were usually spending this time together, so if anyone was keeping those walls straight, it probably was a combined effort.

In his authorized biography, John Russell Taylor writes: In Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to meet an old Jesuit priest, Professor Hugh Gray, before his death. Hugh Gray was the first translator of Andre Bazin in the United States, as well as a fellow student of Hitchcock’s at Saint Ignatius College of London near the turn of the century.


After completing basic education, Gray went to the Dominican Theological College of St. Thomas Aquinas in Staffordshire, Belgian University and Dominican Theological College (both in Louvain, Belgium), and then to the Oxford University and the University of Perugia where he studied Italian.

Hugh Gray's academic activity was ridiculously rich and expressed his thirst for knowledge that obviously took a lot to satiate. All this effort wasn't random though - philosophical, religious and cultural subjects seemed to be of special interest to him. History, archeology and foreign languages were also on his academic crosshair.

When the World War I came, he joined Artists' Rifles (a reserve unit actively participating during that time), but came back home due to Flu Epidemic outbreak near the end of the war. Later in the second world war, he did not run away from service as well and was a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.

In 1926, Gray became a Dominican priest, but it was one of many things he was throughout life. His another long-lasting engagement was in the academic circles and 26 years after becoming a priest, he came back to the world of university to teach. First, it was a part-time gig at the Department of Theater Arts where he taught Writing for the Screen. Three years later, he got a full-time job at the famous UCLA in Los Angeles.

Translating, writing, more academics

His earlier mentioned translation of Andre Bazin is no accident. Bazin was a famous and well-respected film critic and theoretician, but since he wrote in French, his work stayed largely unknown to the the average Brit who did not know the language. Gray was the first man to translate his works to English.

That's not all! Beyond that, he also wrote essays and put his writing skills to test by trying his luck in Hollywood. In the space of 20 years (1936-1956), he wrote scripts for 14 movies (IMDb). Three most popular ones were all about historical figures and events - Quo Vadis (IMDb), Ulysses (IMDb) and Helen of Troy (IMDb). Unfortunately, neither one of those enjoyed a warm reception, although they were pretty popular.

In 1956, he retired and while doing so was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. He came back to futher lecture 3 more times (which is allowed for title-holders in the United States). After finally ending his adventure with UCLA, he moved to a private university called Loyola-Marymount where he started Center for Modern Greek Studies.


There was no professional cooperation between him and Hitchcock despite them both working in the film business for 20 years, but the two friends share credits for one production - he wrote the original script for Men of Lightship. Alfred Hitchcock did the film editing for that movie, but his name ended up absent from the credits (IMDb). This shared credit was probably a coincidence.

As mentioned earlier, Gray must have been very important in the life of Alfred - the director spoke highly of him and considered him a friend for the entire life, which is very lucky considering he was his first friend. If not for Gray, Hitch's childhood would probably be a lot more gray. On the other hand, can you imagine how twisted the great director's movies could have been if he would have an even darker and lonelier childhood?

The contact between the two they kept until their last days. When Alfred's health worsened, Gray was one of the frequent visitors. He passed away one year after Alfred.