Hollywood Dreams

By Emily Gold Boutilier / July / August 2005
April 28th, 2007

Ruth Hussey got her big break in Hollywood after landing a role with a touring company in the play Dead End. “A movie talent scout saw me in the play,” she told a news reporter in the late 1940s, “just as I had dreamed might happen.” She went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for her role as the sarcastic photographer in 1940’s The Philadelphia Story.

Hussey died on April 19 of complications from appendicitis.

Hussey got her start as a radio fashion commentator in Providence before moving to New York City, where she was a model for the prestigious Powers agency. After the talent scout spotted her in Dead End, MGM signed her to a five-year contract in 1937, and later extended the contract to eight years. Her first movie role was an uncredited part in the 1937 Spencer Tracy film Big City. Three years later she was the female lead in Northwest Passage.

She received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for her role as Elizabeth Imbrie, the photographer who accompanies James Stewart to cover Katharine Hepburn’s wedding in The Philadelphia Story. Hussey made her Broadway debut in 1945 playing the wife of a presidential hopeful in State of the Union, a drama that won a Pulitzer Prize. Four years later she appeared as Jordan Baker in a film remake of The Great Gatsby. Hussey’s last feature film was in 1960 as the wife of Bob Hope in The Facts of Life, also starring Lucille Ball.

After that Hussey focused mostly on raising her children. She painted watercolors and designed her family’s weekend house in Lake Arrowhead, California. She also made guest appearances on television. For many years she attended Pembroke get-togethers in California. She is survived by two sons, including John Longenecker, Ruth-Hussey.com, P.O. Box 5155, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210; a daughter, four grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

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July / August 2005