Michael Jackson’s Thriller album turned 40 over the weekend.
And one of the stars of its seminal video has paid tribute to its landmark release on Sunday.
Ola Ray, 61, starred in the iconic Thriller music video as Michael’s girlfriend, who runs out of the theatre during a creepy horror film.
Tribute: One of the stars of the Thriller music video has paid tribute to its landmark release on Sunday
The King of Pop followed her and reassured her it was just a film, before launching into his legendary zombie dance routine.
Now, Ola has dyed her formally dark tresses a bright platinum blonde, but still looks as youthful as ever.
She took to her Instagram to mark the milestone anniversary of the 1982 album, writing: ‘Hello World, Happy 40th Anniversary of the Thriller Album.Check out my book for some amazing stories of us in the Thriller Video.’
Star: Ola Ray, 61, starred in the iconic Thriller music video as Michael’s girlfriend, who runs out of the theatre during a creepy horror film
But while Ola shares fond memories of working with the superstar singer during the intensive video shoot, her story is tinged with sadness.
The huge success of the pop video propelled the young actress – who had previously appeared in a couple of movies as well as being Playboy’s Miss June 1980 centerfold – into overnight global stardom.
But rather than being able to enjoy her rapid success, the fame sent Ola’s life spiraling out of control.
She tells how she became gripped by cocaine addiction and crippling depression, attempted to take her own life, turned her back on the entertainment industry and 35 years on from Thriller she reveals she is still battling the Jackson estate for millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.
Missed out: Amazingly, other than a $2,500 initial payment for her role in the music video, Ola says she didn’t receive a penny more for at least two years, despite signing a lucrative contract
Ray was in her early 20s when she beat hundreds of other hopefuls to play Jackson’s girlfriend in Thriller, directed by John Landis.
The 14-minute short went on to help Jackson’s Thriller album top the US chart for 37 weeks, selling a reputed 120 million copies and making it the best-selling record of all time.
‘Oh my God, I was so excited to get the role.I jumped on the bed and I was like jumping up and down and screaming,’ recalls Ray with a smile.
Won role: Ola was in her early 20s when she beat hundreds of other hopefuls to play Jackson’s girlfriend in Thriller, directed by John Landis
She says she was filled with nerves before arriving on set and meeting Jackson for the first time.
And fortunately for her Jackson was very understanding of the state she was in.
‘That night when we first met, he walked up to me and he introduced himself and then he gave me a hug…and he smelled marijuana,’ she recalls, her eyes widening.
Ray didn’t smoke much at the time but a friend who was at her apartment offering support had suggested she take a puff from a marijuana joint to quell her nerves.
‘So I did, I took one puff, and oh my God I was so stoned and Michael smelt it on me,’ recalls a mortified Ray.
‘He said, ”do you smoke weed?” and I said, ”no’, ‘and he said ”Yes you do I can smell it.”
‘I said, ”Michael, I’m so sorry.I really don’t smoke.”
‘I told him I was so nervous to come to meet him and that a friend had given me a puff to relax me, he started laughing at me and then he said, ”ah, you’ll be alright.” He really put me at ease.’
Ray claims she had ‘great chemistry’ with Jackson and they instantly hit it off.
They spent day and night together during the grueling two week shoot and she says Jackson was always trying to make her laugh.
But she says kissing the superstar singer in his trailer did change things between them on set.
Ola said: ‘I was so excited about being in Thriller.I knew it was really big. Despite what I was promised I ended up having to raise my daughter, who is now 22, basically on welfare. If I had been receiving the money I should have received my life would be drastically different’
Jackson became awkward and told her that they couldn’t continue their fling because of a promise he made a friend – in other words a friend of Jackson’s had eyes for Ray.
‘There was an obstacle in the way, we couldn’t take it as far as we wanted it to go.
‘When I found out who this person was I was very upset about it,’ she recalls.
‘I saw Michael a few months after Thriller.He was in Westlake (Recording) Studios at the time with Quincy (Jones), producing the Bad album.
‘I realized who this person was and talked to Michael about it, he said, ”please sit down and have lunch with me Ola”.
‘And I was like, ”no, I’m not gonna sit down and have lunch with you, I’ve gotta go”, but I said, ”here’s my number, call me and we’ll talk about it later.”
Success story: The 14-minute short went on to help MJ’s Thriller album top the US chart for 37 weeks, selling a reputed 120 million copies and making it the best-selling record of all time.Pictured: Jackson on set of the iconic video (left) and in 1983 sporing a red jacket (right)
‘That was the last time I saw Michael. So yeah, I kind of kicked myself around a lot after that.’
Ola described Jackson as a ‘sweet’, ‘articulate’ and extremely nice guy and she still cherishes her brush with the superstar.
‘He had a gentle soul.He was very, very loving. Very funny. When Michael would walk into the room, he would have like an aura around him. I mean, it was like almost bigger than life,’ she said.
Ray claims that after Thriller aired to the world on December 3, 1983 things went ‘crazy’ for her.
She had to move out of her Los Angeles apartment because of the attention from crazed fans.
Opinion: Ola described Jackson as a ‘sweet’, ‘articulate’ and extremely nice guy and she still cherishes her brush with the superstar
‘Oh my God.I had people that I didn’t know coming over and knocking on the door, trying to get an autograph, trying to get me to answer the door, trying to see me,’ she recalls.
‘And so it got really, really crazy for me. I ended up having to move and then after that it got even worse.’
Amazingly, other than a $2,500 initial payment for her role in the music video, Ray says she didn’t receive a penny more for at least two years, despite signing a lucrative contract.
Chemistry: Ola claims she had ‘great chemistry’ with Jackson and they instantly hit it off.They spent day and night together during the grueling two week shoot and she says Jackson was always trying to make her laugh