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Photographed for CBS Radio, 1948
Helen Virginia Briggs|
September 29, 1910
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
February 24, 1982 (aged 71)|
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
John Gilbert (m. 1932–1934), divorced
J. Walter Ruben (m. 1937–1942), his death
Ali Ipar (m. 1946–1951), divorced
Ali Ipar (m. 1952–1964), divorced
Virginia Bruce (born Helen Virginia Briggs, September 29, 1910 – February 24, 1982) was an American actress and singer.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Virginia as an infant moved with her parents, Earil and Margaret Briggs, to Fargo, North Dakota. The city directory of Fargo documents that the Briggs family lived there at 421 14th Street South. After Virginia graduated from Fargo Central High School in 1928, she moved with her family to Los Angeles intending to enroll in the University of California, Los Angeles when a friendly wager sent her seeking film work. Her first screen work was in 1929 as an extra for Paramount in Why Bring That Up? In 1930 she appeared on Broadway in the musical Smiles at the Ziegfeld Theatre, followed by another Broadway production, America's Sweetheart, in 1931.
Bruce returned to Hollywood in 1932, where at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in early August she began work on the film Kongo starring Walter Huston. During production on that project, on August 10, she married John Gilbert with whom she had recently costarred in another MGM film, Downstairs. The entertainment trade paper The Film Daily reported that the couple's "quick" wedding was held in Gilbert's dressing room on the studio lot. Among the people attending the small ceremony were the head of MGM production Irving Thalberg, who served as the groom's best man; screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart, whose wife Beatrice acted as matron of honor; MGM art director and set designer Cedric Gibbons; and his wife, actress Dolores del Río. Bruce retired briefly from acting after the birth of their daughter Susan Ann, although she returned to a hectic schedule of film appearances after her divorce from Gilbert in May 1934. Gilbert died two years later.
Bruce is credited with introducing the Cole Porter standard "I've Got You Under My Skin" in the 1936 film Born to Dance. That same year she costarred in the MGM musical The Great Ziegfeld. She also performed periodically on radio. In 1949, for example, Bruce starred in Make Believe Town, a 30-minute afternoon drama broadcast daily on CBS Radio. Much later, in the early 1960s, the veteran actress retired from films but emerged from retirement in 1981 for a final screen appearance, portraying the title character in Madame Wang's, a "bizarre" production directed by Paul Morrissey in association with Andy Warhol.
In 1937, three years after her divorce from John Gilbert, Bruce married her second husband, American film director J. Walter Ruben, after working with him on the Western The Bad Man of Brimstone. They had one child, Christopher, who was born the year before Ruben's death in 1942. Bruce then married Turkish screenwriter Ali Ipar in 1946. They divorced in 1951 and remarried in 1952, only to divorce once again—and finally—in 1964.
Bruce died of cancer at age 71 on February 24, 1982, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.
|Blue Skies||Party guest||Uncredited|
|The Love Parade||Lady-in-Waiting||Uncredited|
|Let's Go Native||Chorus Girl||Uncredited|
|Paramount on Parade||Chorus Girl||Uncredited|
|Follow Thru||Bit in Ladies Locker Room||Uncredited|
|Slightly Scarlet||Enid Corbett|
|Lilies of the Field||Doris|
|1931||Hell Divers||Girl||Scenes deleted|
|1932||The Miracle Man||Margaret Thornton|
|Winner Take All||Joan Gibson|
|1934||Dangerous Corner||Ann Peel|
|Jane Eyre||Jane Eyre|
|The Mighty Barnum||Jenny Lind|
|1935||Shadow of Doubt||Trenna Plaice|
|Here Comes the Band||Margaret|
|The Murder Man||Mary Shannon|
|Times Square Lady||Toni Bradley|
|1936||The Great Ziegfeld||Audrey Dane|
|The Garden Murder Case||Zalia Graem|
|Born to Dance||Lucy James|
|1937||When Love Is Young||Wanda Werner|
|Between Two Women||Patricia Sloan|
|The Bad Man of Brimstone||Loretta Douglas|
|Women of Glamour||Gloria Hudson|
|1938||Arsène Lupin Returns||Lorraine de Grissac|
|Woman Against Woman||Maris Kent|
|Yellow Jack||Frances Blake|
|The First Hundred Years||Lynn Conway|
|There Goes My Heart||Joan Butterfield|
|There's That Woman Again||Sally Reardon|
|1939||Society Lawyer||Pat Abbott|
|Let Freedom Ring||Maggie Adams|
|Stronger Than Desire||Elizabeth Flagg|
|1940||Flight Angels||Mary Norvell|
|Hired Wife||Phyllis Walden|
|The Invisible Woman||Kitty Carroll|
|1941||Adventure in Washington||Jane Scott||Alternative title: Female Correspondent|
|1942||Pardon My Sarong||Joan Marshall|
|Careful, Soft Shoulder||Connie Mathers|
|1944||Action in Arabia||Yvonne Danesco|
|Brazil||Nicky Henderson||Alternative title: Stars and Guitars|
|1945||Love, Honor and Goodbye||Roberta Baxter|
|1948||Night Has a Thousand Eyes||Jenny Courtland|
|1949||State Department: File 649||Margaret "Marge" Weldon||Alternative title: Assignment in China|
|1954||Salgin||Nurse||Alternative titles: Epidemic|
|1955||Reluctant Bride||Laura Weeks||Alternative title: Two Grooms for a Bride|
|1960||Strangers When We Meet||Mrs. Wagner|
|1981||Madame Wang's||Madame Wang|
Partial TV credits
|1953||General Electric Theater||Adele||1 episode|
|1955||Letter to Loretta||Dee Norman||1 episode|
|Science Fiction Theatre||Dr. Myrna Griffin
|1957||The Ford Television Theatre||Ruth Crest||1 episode|
- "Film Actress Virginia Bruce dies at 71 after long illness". California, San Bernardino. The San Bernardino County Sun. February 25, 1982. p. 10. Retrieved January 7, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Fargoan had long career in films".
- "VIRGINIA BRUCE, 72, ACTRESS PORTRAYED ZIEGFELD SHOWGIRL".
- Virginia Bruce at the Internet Broadway Database
- "Here's Proof John Gilbert Is Screen's Great Lover". New York, Syracuse. Syracuse Herald. August 11, 1932. p. 12. Retrieved January 7, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "GILBERT'S QUICK MARRIAGE", news item, The Film Daily [New York, N.Y. (West Coast Bureau)], August 12, 1932, page 4. Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- "Fourth Divorce for John Gilbert of Films". The Southeast Missourian. May 26, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- "Ethel Merman, Virginia Bruce In Radio Dramas". Freeport Journal-Standard. July 30, 1949. p. 3. Retrieved May 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Virginia Bruce: Biography", Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc., New York, N.Y. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- Virginia Bruce: Under My Skin, 2008. (Biography by Scott O'Brien)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Virginia Bruce.|