Friday, 23 May 2014

Ruby Keeler 1910-1993 - The Jazz Singers Wife

Today's Actress in art is Ruby Keeler 1910 -1993

Ruby was a Canadian born actress, singer and dancer; famous for her on-screen partnership with Dick Powell in Warner Bothers musicals such as 42nd Street and also for being Mrs Al Jolson. Ruby was born as Ethel Hilda Keeler and when 3 her family moved to New York, where she attended the St Catherine of Siena school.

It was during the school dance class that the teacher spotted Ruby's potential. So impressed, the teacher offered to give her lessons for free after her mother had been unable to pay for these extra classes due to the lack of money. Soon, despite being underage (13 whilst needing to be 16) she tried out for a tap audition. competing against a lot of other talented girls. The stage was covered, except for a wooden apron at the front and when it was Ruby's turn to dance she asked the dance director Julian Mitchell if she could dance on the wooden part so that her taps could be heard. He did not answer, so she went ahead, walked up to the front of the stage and started her routine. The director said, "who said you could dance up there?" She replied, "I asked you!" and she got a job in George M. Cohan's The Rise of Rosie O'Reilly(1923), in which she made forty-five dollars a week to help her family.

Ruby Keeler - etching (rare topless 1st state by Frank Martin)
click here for more

The rest is history as to say - she went on to sing, dance and act her way through numerous stage shows, musical films and television reviews. Including; Lucky, The Sidewalks of New York, Ziegfeld's Whoopee! (1928), Show Girl, Warner Brothers 42nd Street (1933) after which Jack Warner gave Keeler a long-term contract and cast her in Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, Dames, and Colleen.

Ruby had met Al Jolson in Los Angeles during the marketing campaign for The Jazz Singer. Jolson was smitten and immediately proposed and they married in 1928 but only after Ruby had initially declined. They had hoped to be wed aboard the White Star Liner Olympic, but were told that company regulations no longer allowed ship's captains to perform "at sea" ceremonies. Keeler and Jolson starred together in Go Into Your Dance. Jolson and Keeler appeared on Broadway one last time together for the unsuccessful show Hold On To Your Hats in 1940.
Ruby Keeler died of cancer and has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6730 Hollywood Blvd.

It has been surprisingly difficult to find art featuring Ruby. She doesn't always appear on the posters of her own films. I will try my best and find a few for you.

A 1935 Carrara Cigarette card - from a photograph.

The art deco style graphics on the cover of the LP of the 1972 Broadway musical No No Nanaette that starred Ruby.
Postage stamps from Benin ??
Any many beautiful photographs.

 And finally back to Frank Martin with a very poor picture of the published, with clothes version of his etching.
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