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Updated On January 17, 2022
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Ruth Chatterton was an American actress who appeared on stage, in films, and on television. She was one of the first “talkies” superstars. She began her career as a theatrical actor as a youngster, and her beauty, grace, and dexterity helped her achieve tremendous popularity. Her career soared with the introduction of talkies, and she became one of the most successful female stars of the 1930s. She had an early interest in acting as the daughter of an architect and began her acting career almost by accident while still in her teens. She dropped out of school to pursue acting full-time after making her first theatrical appearance while still in high school. She began her career as a chorus girl before moving on to more significant roles and making her Broadway debut in ‘The Great Name.’ Within a few years, she had established herself as one of the leading ladies on stage, and she was drawn to the burgeoning film picture industry. There was no turning back after she made her big screen debut. Unlike many other actresses of her period, she seamlessly transitioned from silent to talkies, quickly establishing herself as one of the era’s top female stars. She was a fearless and daring woman who was also a skilled aviator and one of the few female aviators at the period.

Childhood and Adolescence

Ruth Chatterton was born in New York City, New York, on December 24, 1892, to architect Walter Smith Chatterton and Lilian Reed Chatterton. She was the only surviving child of the pair.

Ruth’s parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised mostly by her mother and grandmother. Mrs. Hagen’s School in Pelham was where she acquired her early schooling.

She has a passion for acting since she was a child. She once went to a play with her friends in 1908 and afterwards chastised the lead actress in front of her companions, who encouraged her to pursue a career as a theater actress. The brave young lady embraced the challenge and joined the stage show’s chorus.

Career of Ruth Chatterton

Ruth Chatterton, who was both attractive and talented, began to appear in larger roles shortly after, and she quickly recognized that acting was her calling. She dropped out of school while still a teenager to pursue a career as a full-time actress.

As a 16-year-old, she joined the Friend Stock Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1911, she had the opportunity to make her Broadway stage debut in ‘The Great Name.’

Her theater career expanded throughout the years, and her appearance in the play ‘Daddy Long Legs’ (1914), adapted from the novel by Jean Webster, was a huge success.

Motion pictures were growing popular in the United States throughout the 1920s, but Chatterton, a well-known stage performer, was not interested in making the leap to the silver screen. Fate, on the other hand, had other ideas for her.

Ruth Chatterton was noticed playing in a Los Angeles theater by famed actor Emil Jennings, who persuaded her to join him in his new film, ‘Sins of the Fathers’ (1928). It was the first and only silent film epic she ever made.

Despite the fact that her debut film did not perform well at the box office, the actress was recognized for her talent. In 1929, she made her first sound feature, ‘The Doctor’s Secret,’ and so successfully transitioned from silent to talkies.

Ruth featured in the blockbuster film “Sarah and Son” in 1930, in which she played an underprivileged lady whose husband sells their son to a wealthy couple. The emotional drama was a critical and economic success, earning her an Academy Award nomination.

Throughout the early 1930s, she continued to have a streak of hits. In 1933, she starred in the hit comedy-drama ‘Female,’ and in 1936, she had her best performance in ‘Dodsworth.’
After appearing in the film ‘A Royal Divorce,’ she returned to the theater in the late 1930s (1938).

She pursued a writing career in her latter years, and her first novel, ‘Homeward Bourne,’ was released in 1950 and became a smash success. She also published two other books.

Her second interest, in addition to acting, was aviation. She was one of the few female pilots at the time, and she flew alone across the United States on multiple occasions.

Major Projects of Ruth Chatterton

One of her best performances was in the drama film ‘Dodsworth,’ when she played Fran, an unhappy married lady. In 1990, the picture was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry after receiving critical acclaim and being nominated for multiple Academy Awards.

She portrayed Jacqueline Floriot, a woman who is ejected from her home by her husband after an affair. Her Oscar nomination came as a result of her moving portrayal of a broken woman seeking salvation.

Achievements & Awards

Ruth Chatterton is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which can be found at 6263 Hollywood Boulevard.
She is an American Theater Hall of Fame inductee.

Personal History and Legacy

Ruth Chatterton was married three times. Her first marriage, which began in 1924 and ended in 1932, was to British actor Ralph Forbes. Her second marriage to actor George Brent, who was born in Ireland, was likewise short-lived.

In 1942, she married actor Barry Thomson, with whom she remained until Thomson’s death in 1960.
On November 21, 1961, she developed a brain hemorrhage and was transported to the hospital, where she died on November 24, 1961. She was 68 years old at the time.

Estimated Net worth

Ruth is one of the wealthiest movie actresses and one of the most well-known. Ruth Chatterton’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million.