Family & Companions
This MGM contract player of the late 1930s and early 40s played some leads, but mostly supporting parts, usually as a sophisticated, knowing women or vixen. Ruth Hussey got her best shot as the cynical photographer in "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), for which she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress. She also starred opposite Ralph Bellamy on Broadway in "State of the Union" (1945).
Hussey attended Pembroke College of Brown University and the University of Michigan where studied acting. She moved to New York where she worked first as a fashion commentator on radio and then as a Powers model before MGM brought her to Hollywood in the mid 30s with a five-year contract. Her first film was "The Big City" (1937), a Spencer Tracy vehicle in which Hussey had a bit part. But that same year, she was assigned the role of the adult abandoned daughter in the remake of "Madame X." Hussey was put into "Judge Hardy's Children" (1938), in a small role, but no rival to Andy's lady-love Polly Benedict. 1939 brought small roles in such classics as "Honolulu" and "The Women," but Hussey still had not connected as a front player. That happened in 1940, when she played opposite Spencer Tracy in "Northwest Passage" and especially when she was cast as Elizabeth Imbrie, the photographer attached only professionally to a scandal mongering reporter (James Stewart), in "The Philadelphia Story."
Leading roles soon followed. She starred opposite Melvyn Douglas in the marital strife drama "Our Wife" (1941). As Hussey's MGM days waned, she began to work for other studios. She played wife to Van Heflin's "Tennessee Johnson" (1943), a biopic of the 17th US President, and was the female doctor to John Carroll in "Bedside Manner" (1945), before leaving Hollywood for Broadway. Hussey returned to films in 1948 with "I, Jane Doe," in which she was an attorney defending the woman accused of murdering her husband. She played Jordan Baker, Daisy Buchanan's friend, in the 1949 remake of "The Great Gatsby," and was wife to Clifton Webb's John Philip Sousa in "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1952). She again played a wife, this time to Bob Hope, in her last feature "Facts of Life" (1960).
Hussey did many guest appearances on TV anthology shows in the 50s, beginning with "The Magnificent Ambersons" (a 1950 episode of ABC's "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse"). She played wife to Jack Benny in a 1955 "Shower of Stars" entitled "Time Out for Ginger," but, by the early 60s, had all but stopped working in front of the cameras. Robert Young, her old MGM crony, lured her back to TV as a guest star on a 1972 episode of his ABC series "Marcus Welby, M.D." and also as his love interest in the TV-movie "My Darling Daughters' Anniversary" (ABC, 1973), which marked her last screen appearance. The actress, who was married for 60 years to talent agent George Longenecker, died in 2005.
Cast (Feature Film)
Signed five-year contract with MGM (date approximate)
Made film acting debut in "The Big City"
Co-starred in "The Women"
Earned Academy Award nomination for her role in "The Philadelphia Story"
Left Hollywood for Broadway; starred opposite Ralph Bellamy in "State of the Union"
Returned to films in "I, Jane Doe"
Made early TV apperance on "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse" (ABC)
Played love interest to Robert Young in her first and only TV-movie, "My Darling Daughters' Anniversary" (ABC)