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Ruth Chatterton
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Ruth Chatterton

Ruth Chatterton was a two-time Academy Award-nominated American actress. Born in New York City on Christmas Eve 1893, of English and French extraction, she was on Broadway by the age of 14 as a dancer.

Her first film was Sins of the Fathers in 1928, and almost all of her films were pre-Code. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for two films -- Madame X (1929) and Sarah and Son (1930). She starred in the Paramount Pictures all-star revue Paramount on Parade (1930).

Her stage experience enhanced many of her film performances when the silents segued to the talkies. Although her first talkies were merely filmed stage productions, her enunciation and acting were appreciated by the public and critics alike. And when she abandoned Paramount, her initial studio, for Warner Brothers (along with Kay Francis and William Powell), it was noted that the brothers Warner needed an infusion of class. Chatterton had a natural beauty that was often overshadowed by her private life persona or Broadway reputation. A scene in Sins of the Fathers has her with Emil Jannings, she's wearing nothing but a diaphanous night gown but her naturally beautiful form is showcased perfectly.

She also was known for her co-starring role in the film Dodsworth (1936), for Samuel Goldwyn and United Artists, which is widely regarded as her finest film, although not a pre-Code film.

Chatterton's last film was A Royal Divorce in 1938. However, she appeared on U.S.television in several plays, including a TV adaptation of Dodsworth, in which she recreated her film role. Her last television appearance was as Gertrude in a 1953 adaptation of Hamlet, with Maurice Evans in the title role, on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. She then relocated to England.

Later Life

Having left acting, she began a successful writing career, producing several novels. She was also one of the few aviatrices at the time, and was acquainted with Amelia Earhart.

Chatterton's first husband was actor Ralph Forbes and they married in the mid 1920s. From 1932 to 1934, Chatterton was married to her younger but frequent film co-star George Brent, a fellow Warners player in the 1930s. Her third and last husband was Barry Thomson to whom she was married from 1942 to his death in 1960. Chatterton produced no children from any of her marriages.

She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 67 in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1961. Ruth Chatterton was cremated and is interred in a niche in the Lugar Mausoleum (Section 11, Lot 303) at Beechwoods Cemetery in New Rochelle, NY.

Occasional, much-younger co-star Bette Davis recalled that Chatterton was very kind to her at Warners when Davis was a young actress starting out on her career.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2009.

Ruth Chatterton Facts

BirthdayDecember 24, 1893
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathNovember 24, 1961 (Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, age 67)
Height5' 2½" (1m59)  How tall is Ruth Chatterton compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.