At the 2007 BAFTA awards
|Birth name||Ruby Wachs|
19 April 1953 |
Evanston, Illinois, USA
|Years active||1970s to present|
A classically trained actress, she came to prominence as a comic interviewer, playing up to British perceptions of the strident American style, which she replicated in the TV sitcom Girls on Top. She also appeared in Absolutely Fabulous, where she doubled as script editor.
Wax has since been in steady demand as an interviewer of celebrities, a game show contestant, and a supporter of Comic Relief and other charities. Her memoirs, How Do You Want Me?, reached the Sunday Times best-seller list.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Controversies
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Interview programmes & documentaries
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Wax is the daughter of Jewish parents who left Austria in 1939 because of the Nazi threat. Her father became wealthy as a sausage manufacturer and her mother qualified as an accountant. Wax was brought up in Evanston, Illinois, in the 1950s and 60s. Wax elected to major in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Wax came to the UK and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She started her acting career as a straight actress at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, where she began a long-standing writing and directing partnership with Alan Rickman, who later was to direct most of her stage comedy shows. In 1978, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, working alongside Juliet Stevenson in Measure for Measure, as Jaquenetta opposite Michael Hordern in Love's Labours Lost, replacing Zoë Wanamaker as Jane in The Way of the World and appearing in the Howard Brenton three-hander Sore Throats. While at the RSC, Wax also met and befriended Ian Charleson, and later contributed a chapter to the 1990 book, For Ian Charleson: A Tribute.
Wax made a one-off appearance in a 1980 episode of The Professionals, Bloodsports, playing Lonnie, an American student. In 1981, she appeared in the follow up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, called Shock Treatment. In the film, Wax portrays Betty Hapschatt, who got married to Ralph Hapschatt in the first film. Wax also appeared briefly as a secretary in Omen III: The Final Conflict.
Her popularity in terms of comedy came from her interviewing technique: she was always forthright, brash and loud, conforming to the British stereotype of an American. Her physical appearance matched this image, with red hair and blood-red lipstick. She cemented this trademark image in 1985, when she starred as loud-mouthed American actress Shelley DuPont on the British sitcom Girls on Top. According to a BBC Arena documentary narrated by Dawn French it was Wax's role as backstage interviewer at Amnesty International's 1987 benefit show The Secret Policeman's Third Ball that eventually boosted her career to a higher level.
Many of her early television shows involved her being put into a situation where she simply met and interviewed people, mostly extraordinary members of the general public (including a memorable visit to Boris Yeltsin prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union). In 1987, Wax was given her own comedy chat show Don't Miss Wax, on Channel 4. She was also hired as a radio presenter by the Superstation, an overnight sustaining service for commercial radio in the UK.
Wax began work with the BBC in 1991 in a variety of television documentaries and interview programmes, similar in tone to her 1980s work on the UK's Channel 4. Programs on alternative health and primetime interviews culminated in the mid-1990s with Wax's 1996 series Ruby Wax Meets, for the BBC in which she interviewed public figures such as Imelda Marcos and Pamela Anderson. Wax was nominated in 1996 for a BAFTA award for her interview with Sarah, Duchess of York, an interview which attracted an audience of over 14 million viewers.
Writing, academia, corporate training and returns to television and stage
In 2002 Wax wrote her memoir, How Do You Want Me?, which became a bestseller according to the Sunday Times bestseller list.
In March 2003, Wax was one of the celebrity contestants on Comic Relief does Fame Academy, which was a spin-off from the BBC's Fame Academy with all proceeds donated to Comic Relief. Although not a good singer, Wax made it to the final, taking runner-up position to Will Mellor.
Wax appeared in a supporting role opposite Olivia Williams and Andie MacDowell in the 2005 film Tara Road. In September and October 2005, she appeared as a celebrity contestant in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, progressing through to Sale of the Century before getting knocked out. In summer 2006, she was a celebrity showjumper in the BBC's Sport Relief event Only Fools On Horses. She presented Cirque de Celebrité on Sky One in 2006. Wax also appeared in an episode of Jackass where she participated in the Gumball 3000. While the race was stopped at the Latvian border she was wrestled by Jackass Personality Chris Pontius.
In March 2009, Wax returned to Comic Relief to take part in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice. Wax appeared in the 2010 Comic Relief in Comic Relief Does Master Chef in which Wax prepared an appetiser for the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Wax's 2010 stand-up show Losing It deals with her experience of clinical depression. The show played in London at the Duchess Theatre in 2011. Wax founded a mental health website in 2011 in response to the audience reaction from her theatre show.
In September 2013, Wax graduated from Kellogg College at Oxford University with a master's degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy. She previously earned a postgraduate certificate in psychotherapy and counselling from Regents College in London.
In 2013, Ruby Wax published a book called "Sane New World", which became a number 1 bestseller.
In 2004, the BBC planned to show a cartoon series called Popetown, which poked fun at the Roman Catholic Church. In it, Wax portrayed the Pope as a spoiled child. After protests, the BBC chose not to show the series.
In February 2004, Irish broadcaster Patricia Danaher reached an out-of-court settlement with Wax, who had falsely claimed that Danaher had made "racist" and "anti-Semitic" remarks about her in an interview for Ulster Television. Wax's legal team apologised in court, accepted that Danaher had not made any racist or anti-Semitic statements and announced that there had been a financial settlement.
Opposition to disabled-access ramp
In November 2005, Wax was criticised by the Daily Mail columnist Richard Kay for opposing a proposed disabled-access ramp for the nearby Couper Collection charitable art gallery. The UK Sunday newspaper The Observer also reported the controversy, as did the act "I, Ludicrous" in "The Ruby Wax Song", from their Dirty Washing 2008 EP.
Wax is married to television producer and director Ed Bye, who produces some of the series of her long-time friends and working partners Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Wax and Bye have three children, Max (1988), Madeleine (1990) and Marina (1993).
Interview programmes & documentaries
- Don't Miss Wax, Channel 4, 1987-1988
- Miami Memoirs, Channel 4, 1988
- East Meets Wax, Channel 4, 1988
- Class of '69, Channel 4 1989
- Wax on Wheels, Channel 4, 1988-1989
- Ruby Takes a Trip, BBC, 1991
- The Full Wax, BBC, 1991–1993
- Ruby Wax Meets..., BBC, 1994–1998
- Ruby's American Pie, BBC, 1999
- Ruby Gets Streetwise, BBC, 2000
- Ruby, BBC 1997-2002
- The Ruby Wax Show, BBC, 2002
- Ruby Wax With..., BBC, 2003
- Ruby Wax's Mad Confessions, Channel 4, 2012
- Greenstreet, Rosanna (14 December 2002). "Comedian Ruby Wax". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. December 2009.
- bbc.co.uk; BBC Radio 4 - Factual - Desert Island Discs- Ruby Wax
- Trowbridge, Simon (2008). "Ruby Wax". Stratfordians, a dictionary of the RSC. Oxford, England: Editions Albert Creed. p. 509. ISBN 978-0-9559830-1-6.
- Howard Brenton: Plays One, Methuen, 1986 ISBN 041340430
- Ian McKellen, Alan Bates, Hugh Hudson, et al. For Ian Charleson: A Tribute. London: Constable and Company, 1990. pp. 55–61.
- Team Member usp-group.com
- Presenters: James Martin (2011-06-04). "Saturday Kitchen". 10:33 minutes in. BBC. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food.
- bbc.co.uk; CBBC Newsround TV FILM; Will beats Ruby in Celeb Fame Academy
- "Comic Ruby Wax runs workshops for Home Office staff". The Guardian (London). 22 March 2010.
- BBC's banned satire on Vatican released Guardian Online
- Staff (13 February 2004). "Ruby Wax apology over ‘racist’ claims". The Stage. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- It's Wax versus Max in battle of the art barges | UK news The Observer
- How we met: Ruby Wax and Ed Bye The Independent
- rubywax.net Official Website
- Ruby Wax at the Internet Movie Database
- Wax in the RSC performance database
- Ruby's Room, Ruby Wax's web show on BBC Headroom, where she regularly interviewed people with different mental health conditions.
- Ruby Wax discussion her choice of a great life on the BBC Radio 4 program Great Lives, first broadcast on 1 May 2009.
- Wax discusses her experiences with mental illness