Ruth Hussey

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This article is about the American actress. For the British doctor, see Ruth Hussey (doctor).
Ruth Hussey
Ruth Hussey 1945.JPG
Hussey in 1945
Born Ruth Carol Hussey
(1911-10-30)October 30, 1911
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Died April 19, 2005(2005-04-19) (aged 93)
Newbury Park, California, U.S.
Cause of death
complications of an appendectomy
Alma mater Brown University
University of Michigan
Occupation Actress
Years active 1937–1973
Spouse(s) Charles Robert Longenecker (1942–2002) (his death) (3 children)
Children John Longenecker
Rob Longenecker
Mary Hendrix

Ruth Carol Hussey (October 30, 1911[1][2] – April 19, 2005) was an American actress best known for her Academy Award-nominated role as photographer Elizabeth Imbrie in The Philadelphia Story.

Early life[edit]

Hussey was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1911. Her father, George R. Hussey, died of the Spanish flu in 1918 when she was seven years old. Ten years later her mother married a family friend, William O'Rourke, who had worked at the family's mail order silver enterprise, the renowned Baird-North Company in Providence. Following graduation from high school, she went on to attend Pembroke College graduating in 1936. She never landed a role in any of the plays she tried out for at Pembroke. She then studied drama in graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Drama, and worked as an actress with a summer stock company in Michigan for two seasons.[3]


Philadelphia Story 5.jpg

After working as an actress in summer stock, she returned to Providence and worked as a radio fashion commentator on a local station. She wrote the ad copy for a Providence clothing store and read it on the radio each afternoon. One day she was encouraged by a friend to try out for acting roles at the Providence Playhouse. The theater director there turned her down, saying the roles were cast only out of New York City. Later that week she journeyed to New York City and on her first day there she signed-up with a talent agent who booked her for a role in a play starting the next day back at the Providence Playhouse.

In New York City she also worked for a time as a model with the world-famous Powers agency. She then landed a number of stage roles with touring companies. Dead End toured the country in 1937 and the last theater on the road trip was at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles where she was spotted on opening night by MGM talent scout Billy Grady. MGM signed her to a players contract and she made her film debut in 1937. She quickly became a leading lady in MGM's "B" unit, usually playing sophisticated, worldly roles. For a 1940 "A" picture role she was nominated for an Academy Award for her turn as Elizabeth Imbrie, the cynical magazine photographer and almost-girlfriend of James Stewart's character Macaulay Connor in The Philadelphia Story. In 1941 exhibitors voted her the third most popular new star in Hollywood.[4]

Hussey also worked with Robert Taylor in Flight Command (1940), Robert Young in H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), Van Heflin in Tennessee Johnson (1942), Ray Milland in The Uninvited (1944) and Alan Ladd in The Great Gatsby (1949). In 1946 she starred on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play State of the Union. In 1960 she co-starred in The Facts of Life with Bob Hope. Hussey was also active in early television drama.

Personal life[edit]

Ruth Hussey and her husband Bob Longenecker

On August 9, 1942, Hussey married talent agent and radio producer C. Robert Bob Longenecker (1909–2002) at Mission San Antonio de Pala in North San Diego County, California. Longenecker was born and raised in Lititz, Pennsylvania. They raised three children: Rob Longenecker, John Longenecker, and Mary Hendrix. Following the birth of her children, Hussey focused much of her attention on family activities, and in 1964 designed a family cabin in the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead, California.

In 1977 she and her husband moved from their Brentwood family home to Rancho Carlsbad in Carlsbad, California. Her husband died in 2002 shortly after celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

Her son John Longenecker works as a cinematographer and film director. He won an Academy Award for producing a live action short film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970).


Hussey died at the age of 93, from complications from an appendectomy.[5]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Vallance, Tom (2005-04-22). "Ruth Hussey: Sophisticated Forties Supporting Actress". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Ruth Hussey, 93, an Actress In 'Philadelphia Story' Film". 2005-04-22. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Bergan, Ronald (2005-04-22). obituaries.artsobituaries1 "Ruth Hussey: Gifted and witty actor always on the sidelines of glamour". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "CUPID'S INFLUENCE ON THE FILM BOX-OFFICE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 October 1941. p. 7 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Ruth Hussey". 2005-04-21. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 

External links[edit]