Ruby Dandridge

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Ruby Dandridge
Ruby Dandridge.jpg
Dandridge, 1947.
Ruby Jean Butler

(1900-03-03)March 3, 1900
DiedOctober 17, 1987(1987-10-17) (aged 87)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1917–1959
Cyril Dandridge
(m. 1919; div. 1922)
Partner(s)Guneneva Williams
ChildrenVivian Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge
FamilyNayo Wallace (great-granddaughter)

Ruby Jean Dandridge (née Butler; March 3, 1900[1] – October 17, 1987) was an American actress from the early 1900s through to the late 1950s. Dandridge is best known for her radio work in her early days of acting. Dandridge is best known for her role on the radio show Amos 'n Andy, in which she played Sadie Blake and Harriet Crawford, and on radio's Judy Canova Show, in which she played "Geranium". She is recognized for her role in the 1959 movie A Hole in the Head as "Sally".

Early life[edit]

Born Ruby Jean Butler in Wichita, Kansas on March 3, 1900, she was one of four children. Dandridge's parents were Nellie Simon, a maid and George Butler, a gentleman who was a janitor, grocer and entertainer.[2] Dandridge's father was also "a famous minstrel man."[3]


In 1937, Dandridge played one of the witches in what an article in The Pittsburgh Courier called a "sepia representation" of Macbeth in Los Angeles. California.[4] The production began on July 8 at the Mayan Theater.[4] Five years later, she appeared in a production of Hit the Deck at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, California.[5] One of Dandridge's earliest appearances (uncredited, as were many of the minor roles she played) was as a native dancer in King Kong (1933).[6] In other films, she played Dabby in Tap Roots (1948),[7] the housekeeper in Three Little Girls in Blue (1946),[8] Mrs. Kelso in Cabin in the Sky (1943)[9] and Violet in Tish (1942).[10]

Lillian Randolph, Ernest Whitman, and Ruby Dandridge of the radio cast of The Beulah Show circa 1952-1953.

Dandridge played Oriole on both radio and TV versions of The Beulah Show,[11][12] and Geranium in The Judy Canova Show,[11]:182 and was a regular cast member on Tonight at Hoagy's.[11]:337 She is heard as Raindrop on Gene Autry's Melody Ranch (August 1949 - April 1951). For one season (1961-1962), Dandridge played the maid on the television version of Father Knows Best.[13]

Other business[edit]

In 1955, Dandridge and her business partner, Dorothy Foster, bought land in Twentynine Palms, California, with plans to construct a subdivision of 250 homes.[14] Also in the 1950s, Dandridge formed a nightclub act that played in clubs around Los Angeles.[13] A review of her act cited her "flashes of effervescent showmanship" and said: "What Ruby lacks in her voice, she invariably makes up for it with her winsome personality."[15]

Personal, death and legacy[edit]

On September 30, 1919, she married Cyril Dandridge. Dandridge moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, where her daughter, actress Vivian Dandridge (1921–1991) was born. A second daughter, Academy Award-nominated actress Dorothy Dandridge, was born there in 1922, five months after Ruby and Cyril divorced. It is noted that after her divorce, Ruby Dandridge became involved with her companion, Geneva Williams, who reportedly overworked the children and punished them harshly.[citation needed] Dandridge attended her daughter Dorothy Dandridge's funeral in 1965.[citation needed] On October 17, 1987, she died of a heart attack at a nursing home in Los Angeles, California.[13] She was interred next to Dorothy at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. In the 1999 film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby is portrayed by Loretta Devine.


Short subjects


  1. ^ No indication she was born in 1899. Her gravestone clearly states 1900; her Social Security Death Index year of birth is 1901.
  2. ^ "Ruby Dandridge, Is Mother the Daughter of the Child?" African American Registry.
  3. ^ Barron, Mark (April 22, 1949). "Broadway". Fitchburg Sentinel. Massachusetts, Fitchburg. p. 6. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access
  4. ^ a b Patton, Bernice (June 12, 1937). "The Sepia Side of Hollywood". The Pittsburgh Courier. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. p. 21. Retrieved April 21, 2016 – via open access
  5. ^ "'Hit the Deck' Will Be at the Curran". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. May 25, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved April 21, 2016 – via open access
  6. ^ "Ruby Dandridge (1899-1987)", Blackface!
  7. ^ "Colorful Civil War Story In Senate's 'Tap Roots'". The Evening News. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. July 15, 1948. p. 16. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access
  8. ^ "Ruby Dandridge Gets Film Role". The Pittsburgh Courier. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. February 2, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access
  9. ^ Walker, Paul (April 27, 1943). ""Cabin in the Sky" Rated As a 12-Laugh Picture! "Hello Frisco," Held Over". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. p. 10. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access
  10. ^ Walker, Paul (September 17, 1942). "'Curtain's Off the Track!' New Films Written Up--And Vice Versa! 3 New Today". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. p. 21. Retrieved April 21, 2016 – via open access
  11. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924–1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. P. 37.
  12. ^ a b c Ruby Dandridge filmography at IMDb
  13. ^ a b c "Obituaries : Ruby Dandridge; Singer, Actress, Mother of Performer Daughters". Los Angeles Times. October 24, 1987. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  14. ^ Levette, Harry (January 22, 1955). "This Is Hollywood". The New York Age. New York, New York City. p. 17. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access
  15. ^ "Another Dandridge In Lights". The Pittsburgh Courier. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. March 17, 1956. p. 36. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via open access

External links[edit]