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Ruth Nelson

Ruth Nelson

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Also Known As: Died: September 12, 1992
Born: August 2, 1905 Cause of Death: cancer, complicated by a stroke and pneumonia
Birth Place: Saginaw, Michigan, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Distinguished stage actress who was a member of the innovative, politically committed Group Theater in the 1930s and played character roles in Hollywood films of the 40s.Nelson joined the Group Theater at its inception and shared in its popular and critical triumph with Clifford Odets' short play, "Waiting for Lefty" (1935). Portraying the wife of a cab driver moving toward union activism, Nelson established a style that would endure through the next decade: she brought a similar plaintive persona and subdued, understated performance style to her Hollywood films of the 40s, mostly playing supportive, working-class women in films like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), "Humoresque" (1946), "Till the End of Time" (1946) and "Mother Wore Tights" (1947).When her second husband, director John Cromwell, was blacklisted in the early 50s on suspicion of being a member of the Communist party, Nelson turned down a role in "Death of a Salesman" that would have required her to leave him in Los Angeles to return to the New York stage. Later years saw her primarily onstage, notably in the successful 1966 revival of "The Skin of Our Teeth", but she did return to screen work occasionally, including portraying Robert...

Distinguished stage actress who was a member of the innovative, politically committed Group Theater in the 1930s and played character roles in Hollywood films of the 40s.

Nelson joined the Group Theater at its inception and shared in its popular and critical triumph with Clifford Odets' short play, "Waiting for Lefty" (1935). Portraying the wife of a cab driver moving toward union activism, Nelson established a style that would endure through the next decade: she brought a similar plaintive persona and subdued, understated performance style to her Hollywood films of the 40s, mostly playing supportive, working-class women in films like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), "Humoresque" (1946), "Till the End of Time" (1946) and "Mother Wore Tights" (1947).

When her second husband, director John Cromwell, was blacklisted in the early 50s on suspicion of being a member of the Communist party, Nelson turned down a role in "Death of a Salesman" that would have required her to leave him in Los Angeles to return to the New York stage. Later years saw her primarily onstage, notably in the successful 1966 revival of "The Skin of Our Teeth", but she did return to screen work occasionally, including portraying Robert De Niro's mother in "Awakenings" (1990).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Awakenings (1990) Mrs Lowe
2.
 Haunting Passion, The (1983) Judith Granville
3.
 Skokie (1981) Grandma Jensen
4.
5.
 Wedding, A (1978) Aunt Beatrice Sloan Cory
6.
 3 Women (1977) Pinky'S Mother
7.
 The Late Show (1977) Mrs Schmidt
8.
 Arch of Triumph (1948) Madame Fessler
9.
 Humoresque (1947) Esther Boray
10.
 The Sea of Grass (1947) Selina Hall
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up travelling with her mother on the vaudeville circuit
:
Sent to Los Angeles to study at a Roman Catholic school in an attempt by her mother to discourage stage career; nonetheless received encouragement from a nun who saw her acting talent
:
Began performing onstage in the early 1920s
:
Was a charter member of New York City's Group Theater in the 1930s
1935:
Played the taxi driver's wife in the Group Theater's landmark production of Clifford Odets' "Waiting for Lefty"
1943:
Film debut, "North Star"
1948:
Acted in last film in nearly three decades, "Arch of Triumph"
:
Turned down the role of Willy Loman's wife in the original stage version of Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman"
:
Joined Tyrone Guthrie's stage repertory company along with husband John Cromwell in the early 1960s
1977:
Returned to feature films to play roles in "The Late Show" and "Three Women"
1990:
Last film, "Awakenings"
1991:
Made last stage appearance in the cast of "Uncle Vanya" in New York
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
William Challee. Actor. Divorced; supporting actor in over 20 films from the 1940s through the 70s, including "Destination Tokyo" (1943), "Force of Evil" (1948), and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970); acted with Nelson in "Sea of Grass" (1947).
husband:
John Cromwell. Director, actor. Married c. 1946 until his death in 1979; born December 23, 1888; directed such films as "Of Human Bondage" (1934), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937), "Algiers" (1938), "Since You Went Away" (1944), "The Enchanted Cottage" (1945) and "Caged" (1950); acted alongside Nelson late in life in two Robert Altman films, "Three Women" (1977) and "A Wedding" (1978).

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Eva Mudge. Vaudevillian. Noted quick-change artist.
sister:
Lynda Stack. Survived her.
sister:
Gay Samuelson. Survived her.
step-son:
James Cromwell. Father John Cromwell.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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