Ruth Warrick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ruth Warrick
Ruth Warwick Phoebe Tyler 1973.jpg
Warrick as Phoebe Tyler, 1973.
Born Ruth Elizabeth Warrick
(1916-06-29)June 29, 1916
Saint Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
Died January 15, 2005(2005-01-15) (aged 88)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Resting place
Church of the Transfiguration, Roman Catholic (Manhattan)
Occupation Actress, singer, activist
Years active 1941–2005
Spouse(s) Erik Rolf (1938-1945; divorced) 2 children
Carl Neubert (1950-52) (divorced)
Robert McNamara (1953-60; divorced) 1 child
Carl Neubert (1961-?; divorced
Frank Freda (1972-73; divorced)
Jarvis Cushing (1975-?; divorced)

Ruth Elizabeth Warrick (June 29, 1916 – January 15, 2005), DM, was an American singer, actress and political activist, best known for her role as Phoebe Tyler Wallingford on All My Children, which she played regularly from 1970 until her death in 2005. At the time of her death she was twenty-second on the all-time list of longest-serving soap opera actors in the United States.

She made her film debut in Citizen Kane, and years later celebrated her 80th birthday by attending a special screening of the film to a packed, standing-room-only audience. Over the years, she collected several books about Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, in which she wrote "Property of Ruth Warrick, Mrs. Citizen Kane".[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

She was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1916 (as per her son and her gravestone, although other sources continue to cite 1915). Her parents were Fred R. & Annie L. Warrick. By writing an essay in high school called "Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis", Warrick won a contest to be Miss Jubilesta, Missouri's paid ambassador to New York City. Popular legend says that she made her debut in New York City on the steps of city hall with an armful of turkeys for Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

Warrick began her career in the 1940s as a radio singer where she met her first husband Eric Rolf, but her first big break was being hired by a young Orson Welles for Citizen Kane, where she played Emily Monroe Norton. When she auditioned for the part, she read with Welles. She said that because she was so new to the acting business, she was not aware that it was very rare to actually read with the star. What she also didn't realize was that this was also Welles' first film role. Citizen Kane proved to be a major moment of her life and the long term success of the film would follow her for the rest of her life.

Trailer for Citizen Kane

Welles hired her again for his film Journey into Fear alongside fellow Kane actor Joseph Cotten. She worked alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in the film The Corsican Brothers, Pat O'Brien in The Iron Major, Edward G. Robinson in Mr. Winkle Goes to War, and was part of a large ensemble in Guest in the House, dealing with scheming visitor Anne Baxter. Following World War II, she had a role in the Academy Award winning Disney film Song of the South; she also appeared in Daisy Kenyon, which starred Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda, but by the late 1940s her film roles were becoming infrequent and less notable. After playing Betty Hutton's sister-in-law in the movie musical Let's Dance, she starred as a troubled wife looking back at her life in the religious drama Second Chance and an alcoholic wife and mother in the exploitation drama One Too Many.

In the 1950s, she befriended soap opera creator Irna Phillips and her protégé, Agnes Nixon. Warrick became a cast member on the soap opera The Guiding Light, playing Janet Johnson, R.N. from 1953–54. Phillips was impressed by Warrick's performance and hired her for her new soap opera, As the World Turns when the show debuted in 1956. Her character, Edith Hughes, was madly in love with a married man, Jim Lowell. Phillips wanted the characters to live happily ever after, but Procter & Gamble, which owned the show, demanded that the characters not endorse adultery, so Jim "died". Warrick stayed on the show until 1960, and was so popular with fans that she would return several times for holiday visits. Her character married another doctor Dr. Frye.

From 1959-60, she was the understudy for Una Merkel and future All My Children co-star Eileen Herlie in the Broadway production of Take Me Along. During the 1961-62 television season, she starred in the MGM Father of the Bride television series. Then, in 1965, she joined the cast of the primetime serial, Peyton Place, playing Hannah Cord. While there had been previous primetime serials (such as One Man's Family), none had enjoyed the phenomenal success of Peyton Place. Warrick received an Emmy Award nomination for her work on this show in 1967, the same year she left the show. In 1969, she made her last major film, Disney's The Great Bank Robbery. During this time, Agnes Nixon had been moving up the daytime television ranks. She had created her own show, One Life to Live, in 1968. ABC approved her new show, All My Children, in 1969, which was based on a treatment that Procter & Gamble had rejected a few years earlier.[citation needed]

All My Children[edit]

As Mrs. Emmeline Marshall in the Broadway musical Irene.

When All My Children debuted on January 5, 1970, Warrick was among the contracted cast, playing Phoebe Tyler (the character's full name via her marriages would eventually be Phoebe English Tyler Wallingford Matthews Wallingford). The show was an instant hit and Phoebe became a popular character. Warrick received Daytime Emmy Award nominations in 1975 and 1977. In 1985, she played Hannah Cord in the television film Peyton Place: The Next Generation.

Due to health problems, actor Louis Edmonds, who portrayed Warrick's All My Children husband, left the show in 1995. Combined with Warrick's own health problems, that signaled a reduction in her screen time in the 1990s. Warrick broke her hip while on vacation in Greece in 2001 and thenceforth used a wheelchair. Rumors circulated that head writer Richard Culliton was planning to kill off Phoebe and that Warrick would be dropped from the show for budgetary reasons (General Hospital had done this twice to Anna Lee, who had played matriarch Lila Quartermaine). Phoebe was not seen on screen until All My Children's 35th anniversary show on January 5, 2005. This brief appearance would ultimately be Warrick's final screen appearance. When she was wheeled into the building, the cast and crew gave her a standing ovation to welcome her back after such a long absence. This episode featured not only a rare appearance from Warrick, but the return of her stepdaughter Verla, played by comedic legend Carol Burnett. This episode also featured Agnes Nixon.


In 1971 she published a single with the song 41,000 Plus 4 The Ballad of the Kent State Massacre as an hommage to Sandra Lee Scheuer, William Knox Schroeder, Jeffrey Glenn Miller and Allison Beth Krause, the four students killed at Kent State University during a demonstration against the Vietnam war.[citation needed]

She published her autobiography, The Confessions of Phoebe Tyler (co-written by Don Preston) in 1980, the same year she won a Soapy Award (a prelude to the Soap Opera Digest Awards). She received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was on hand to receive her Daytime Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2004.[citation needed]

Warrick was a member of the Democratic Party, working with the administrations of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter on labor and education issues. Upon Carter's 1980 defeat, she sent him a long letter thanking him for his efforts. He replied, telling her that if he had hired her as a speechwriter, he would have been reelected. Warrick had generally liberal political views. In her first years at All My Children, Warrick was flustered by her character's conservative politics and support of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which Warrick strongly opposed.[citation needed]

In July 2000, she refused to accept a lifetime achievement award from the South Carolina Arts Commission because she was offended by legislators' decision to move the Confederate flag from the state Capitol dome to another spot on the grounds in response to a boycott of the state by flag opponents. A lifelong supporter of African-American rights, she felt the flag should be removed completely, and commented, "In my view, this was no compromise. It was a deliberate affront to the African-Americans, who see it as a sign of oppression and hate."[citation needed]

Later years[edit]

In her senior years, she became a spokeswoman for the rights of senior citizens as well as the disabled and was appointed to the U.N. World Women's Committee on Mental Health.


She died of complications related to pneumonia on January 15, 2005, aged 88. She received a memorial tribute at the 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The day after the 2005 Academy Award ceremony, former castmate Kelly Ripa expressed her outrage on Live with Regis and Kelly that Warrick had not been included in the annual memorial tribute.[citation needed] She was interred at the Church of the Configuration in Manhattan, New York.[1]


The January 24, 2005 episode of All My Children was dedicated "In Loving Memory of Ruth Warrick". Phoebe died off screen on January 15, the same day as Warrick. Phoebe's funeral was aired May 12, 2005. The episode featured many of Warrick's most notable performances as flashbacks, and included the return of many of the characters who had been heavily involved in her storylines over the years. Film historian Scott Feinberg conducted the final interview with Warrick on August 14, 2004, at her apartment in New York City. After her death, her family put much of her estate in an auction.[2] This auction included her extensive collection of art and photographs, as well as books signed by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Signed scripts from Peyton Place and All My Children as well as her Broadway appearances were also in the catalog. The centerpiece of the catalog was the 25th anniversary reprint script of Citizen Kane, signed by Warrick, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, one of only 100 printed.

Her family donated her 2004 Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award to a museum in her hometown of Saint Joseph, Missouri.[citation needed]

Partial filmography[edit]



  1. ^ Rout, Nancy E., Buckley, Ellen., & Rout, Barney M. The Soap Opera Book: Who's Who in Daytime Drama, West Nyack, NY: Todd Publications, 1992. She received this titled in the early 1990s when she traveled to Russia as part of a "Global Forum" to discuss the world's environmental problems with Mikhail Gorbachev. It is noteworthy that this chapter is not officially recognised by the bona fide Order of St. John.


External links[edit]