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Who Is Ruth Gordon

Updated on October 26, 2010

Ruth Gordon - American Actress and Writer

Ruth Gordon Jones (October 30, 1896 - August 28, 1985), better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer. She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as the oversolicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way But Loose. In addition to her acting career, Gordon wrote numerous well-known plays, film scripts and books. Gordon won an Academy Award, an Emmy and two Golden Globe awards for her acting.

From the first time I saw Ruth Gordon I knew that she was to become one of my favorite actresses and women. Find out who Ruth Gordon was.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the great picture of Ruth Gordon in 1919

Biography of Ruth Gordon

This is a mini-biography from IMDb-Internet Movie Database

Date of Birth

30 October 1896, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Date of Death

28 August 1985, Edgartown, Massachusetts, USA (stroke)

Birth Name

Ruth Gordon Jones


When Ruth Gordon convinced her father, a sea captain, to let her pursue acting she came to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She acted in a few silents made at Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1915. She made her Broadway debut in "Peter Pan" as Nibs the same year. The next 20 years she spent on stage, even appearing at the Old Vic in London in the successful run of "The Country Wife" in 1936. Nearly 25 years after her film debut she returned to movies briefly. Her most memorable role during this period in the early 1940s was as Mary Todd in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940).

She left Hollywood to return to theater. Back in New York, she married Garson Kanin in 1942 (her first husband Gregory Kelly, a stage actor, died in 1927). She began writing plays, and later she and her husband collaborated on screenplays for Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, whose screen relationship was modeled on their own marriage. She returned to film acting during the 1960s. It is during this last period of her career that she became a movie star, with memorable roles in Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Harold and Maude (1971). She has written several books since the mid-1970s and has appeared on TV. She won an Emmy for her role on "Taxi" (1978) in 1979<./b>

IMDb Mini Biography By: Amy Harper

Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.

Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon

Trivia about Ruth Gordon

Trivia = Things you don't need to know but want to.

Her only child, a son named Jones Harris (born 1929), was the product of an out-of-wedlock relationship with Jed Harris, in between marriages.

Her obsession with acting was partly inspired by a performance she attended of "The Pink Lady" at a Boston theatre. It starred Hazel Dawn as a seductive Parisian vamp.

Was nominated for Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for portraying Dolly Levi in Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker."

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 330-332. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.

Was portrayed by Jean Simmons in the movie, The Actress (1953).

Was a close friend of actor Bud Cort.

Natalie Wood was so fond of her that she named her the godmother to her firstborn Natasha Gregson Wagner.

There is a 2009 biography of the lives and careers of the Kanin family (Garson Kanin, Ruth [Gordon], Michael Kanin and Fay Kanin): "A Family Affair - The Kanins in Hollywood and on Broadway" written by Josh Kanin (her nephew by marriage) and Wayne Lindholm.

I had seen Ruth Gordon in a few movies and TV appearances; but it wasn't until I saw Harold and Maude that I fell in love with her, as an actress and as a woman. I know that Maude was the character she was playing; but I like to think that there was a lot of Maude in Ruth Gordon.

Discussing how old you are is the temple of boredom.

Ruth Gordon

A Favorite Scene from Harold and Maude - There are so many favorite scenes from Harold and Maude

This scene is just one of many that let's Ruth Gordon's portrayal of Maude show off her talents and love of life.

Never give up. And never, under any circumstances, face the facts.

Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon's Appearance on the Dick Cavett Show - She even has Woody Allen laughing.

So easy to fall into a rut, isn't it? Why should ruts be so comfortable & so unpopular?


Ruth Gordon - Oscar - Best Supporting Actress in Rosemary's Baby

Ruth Gordon - Oscar  - Best Supporting Actress in Rosemary's Baby
Ruth Gordon - Oscar - Best Supporting Actress in Rosemary's Baby

The very best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance.

Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin - In Marriage and in Work They Were Great!

Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin
Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin

As show business couplings go, the marriage of Ruth Gordon, 84 this month, and Garson Kanin, 67, is remarkable-for productivity as well as longevity. When they met in 1939, he was an experienced film director with such credits as A Great Man Votes and Bachelor Mother. She was already one of the leading actresses of the century, having played her first role-Nibs in Peter Pan-in 1915 and gone on to star in Serena Blandish and A Doll's House. After they were married in 1942, Gordon and Kanin collaborated on the screenplays of the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn hits Adam's Rib and Pat and Mike, among other films. Gordon won an Oscar for best supporting actress in Rosemary's Baby in 1969 at age 72, and starred in the cult film Harold and Maude with Bud Cort, two years later. She has also written plays (Years Ago) and her memoirs. Kanin is the author of some 38 novels (Moviola), plays (Born Yesterday) and nonfiction works (Tracy and Hepburn). This year, they each have a new publishing venture. Hers is Ruth Gordon: An Open Book (Doubleday, $11.95), the third volume of her memoirs. Kanin's is his eighth novel, Smash (Viking, $14.95), the chronicle of a musical comedy's journey to Broadway. The couple divide their time between Martha's Vineyard and an apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. There, in a rare joint interview, they spoke with Eric Levin of PEOPLE. (* October 13, 1980 * Vol.14* No.15)

What has enabled your marriage to endure for 38 years? Get the rest of the story.

Please leave your comments here about Ruth Gordon and this lens as her tribute. I hope that this lens does justice to the woman and actress that I feel is Ruth Gordon.

What Do You Think About Ruth Gordon? - Do You Know Her Better Than You Did?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great woman, Ruth Gordon. I admire her very much.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I loved her Loved Her there's no one like her any more Blunt and tough as nails

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      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Something about Miss Ruth Gordon. :)

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 7 years ago from West Virginia

      I think she is interesting and entertaining.

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      Joan4 7 years ago

      I always enjoyed Ruth Gordon, too, and I appreciate being able to read more about her here. Thank you.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Great information and fascinating insight into Ruth Gordon

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great bio lens. Ruth Gordon was a very interesting lady. I always loved her smile.