Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Born Today July 7: Ruth Ford


Actress Ruth Elizabeth Ford was born on this day in Brookhaven, Mississippi. She and her writer/artist brother Charles Henri Ford were the children of wealthy hotel owners throughout the South. This meant frequent moves for the family when the children were young; though eventually Ruth obtained a degree back in her birth state from the University of Mississippi and went to work as a print model (she said on several occasions that her long time friendship with writer William Faulkner began when she was getting a Masters Degree in philosophy from the university). She and her brother both were early transplants to the New York City artist/theater scene--they would stay there, aside from her film sojourn in Hollywood in th 1940's, for the rest of their lives.  The reason for her inclusion here is her involvement in the theater scene of New York in the 1930's. Indeed, Ford was no child actress of films, but rather a now well known member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater and a cast member of his silent film Too Much Johnson in 1938. The film is famous for amongst other things, being a very late silent film that was used as a rehearsal vehicle.  Unlike many other cast members however, the film was apparently not Ford's film debut. She is listed amongst the rather large uncredited cast member list of the equally bizarre poverty row Marshall Neilan directed horror film Chloe, Love Is Calling You from 1934 (this film, set in the bayous of Louisiana, was shot entirely on location in Florida).  She did not appear in another film until 1941, when she showed up in the lower budget Tex Ritter western Roaring Frontiers--a "damsel in distress" film in which she, obviously, plays the damsel.  In the meantime, she had married her first husband and a daughter. This period in her life marked the beginning of a less than stellar film career, that included lower budget films like:  Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941), Murder In The Big House (1942), The Gorilla Man (1943), Adventure in Iraq (1943) & Woman Who Came Back (1945). She also made her television debut in the 1940's on the 3rd of November episode of Theatre of RomanceCamille. From that point forward, she did not appear in another film for some 14 years, instead doing television work and appearing in stage productions. In 1963 she again took up film acting, when she appeared in the only film ever directed by Dore Schary: Act One, along side Jason Robards and George Hamilton. She continued to act, off and on, through the rest of decade and throughout the 1970's. She appeared in two films in the 1980's, the last of which was the serial crime thriller Too Scared to Scream. Always an actor of the stage throughout her career, she finished her stage work out on Broadway in 1976. Ford retired to her apartment in The Dakota in New York City, which was already a hubbub of artistic activity, and continued to be so.  When her brother, who also had an apartment at The Dakota died in 2004 at the age of 94, she inherited his holdings. She herself died in New York City on the 12th of August, just a little more than a month after her 98th birthday.  Both her and her brother are buried in their birthplace in Brookhaven at the Rose Hill Cemetery there.  

[Source: Charline Herring Ryan (Find A Grave)]

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