Patsy Ruth Miller

Patricia Ruth "Patsy" Miller (born Ruth Mae Miller; January 17, 1904 – July 16, 1995) was an American film actress who played Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) opposite Lon Chaney.[1]

Patsy Ruth Miller
Miller in 1924
Ruth Mae Miller

(1904-01-17)January 17, 1904
DiedJuly 16, 1995(1995-07-16) (aged 91)
Years active1921–1978
Spouse(s)Tay Garnett (m.1929–div.1933)
John Lee Mahin (m.1937–div.1946)
Effingham Smith Deans (m.1951–1986; his death)

Early years

Miller was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. As a girl, she had a screen test in Hollywood, but her mother was advised to take her home because she had no potential to be an actress.[2] She was born Ruth Mae Miller but changed her name to avoid confusion with another actress, Ruth Miller, who was already active in film.[3]


After being discovered by actress Alla Nazimova at a Hollywood party, Miller got her first break with a small role in Camille, which starred Rudolph Valentino. Her roles gradually improved, and she was chosen as a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1922. In 1923, she was acclaimed for her performance as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame opposite Lon Chaney.

In the later part of the decade Miller appeared chiefly in light romantic comedies, opposite such actors as Clive Brook and Edward Everett Horton. Among her film credits in the late 1920s are Broken Hearts of Hollywood (1926), A Hero for a Night (1927), Hot Heels (1928), and The Aviator (1929). She retired from films in 1931. She made a cameo appearance in the 1951 film Quebec, which starred John Barrymore Jr., and stated in her autobiography that she had participated as a joke. She came out of retirement to do the film Mother in 1978. She later achieved recognition as a writer. She won three O. Henry Awards for her short stories, wrote a novel, radio scripts, and plays. She also performed for a brief time on Broadway.

Personal life

Miller was married three times, the first two ended in divorce. Her first husband was film director Tay Garnett and the second was screenwriter John Lee Mahin. Her third husband, businessman E.S. Deans, died in 1986. The frequent news about her love life once earned Miller the sobriquet "the most engaged girl in Hollywood."[1]


In 1988, BearManor Media published Miller's autobiography My Hollywood: When Both of Us Were Young (ISBN 978-1593934897).[5] Reviewer Richard Brody of The New Yorker called the memoir "a hidden masterwork of the genre".[6]


Patsy Ruth Miller died at her home at the age of 91 in Palm Desert, California.[1][7]

Partial filmography


  1. "Patsy Ruth Miller, Movie Actress, 91, An Early Esmeralda". New York Times. July 19, 1995. Retrieved July 8, 2012. Patsy Ruth Miller, a silent-film star whose best-known role may have been that of the Gypsy dancing girl in the 1923 film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", died on Sunday at her home here. She was 91. ...
  2. Brownlow, Kevin (July 21, 1995). "Obituary: Patsy Ruth Miller". Independent. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  3. "Changes Her Name". The Oregon Daily Journal. Oregon, Portland. July 3, 1921. p. 35. Retrieved October 2, 2017 via
  4. Rose of the World (advertisement), La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune and Leader-Press, May 3, 1926, page 8.
  5. "My Hollywood: When Both of Us Were Young". Amazon. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  6. Brody, Richard (March 3, 2016). "A brilliant, unknown memoir about classic Hollywood". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  7. "Patsy Ruth Miller obit". Milwaukee Journal. July 20, 1995. Retrieved September 12, 2012. Palm Desert, Calif. Patsy Ruth Miller, silent film actress who played the Gypsy dancing girl opposite Lon Chaney in the 1923 film Hunchback of ...


  • My Hollywood: When Both of Us Were Young (autobiography, 1988)
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