Ruth Donnelly

Ruth Donnelly (May 17, 1896 November 17, 1982) was an American stage and film actress.

Ruth Donnelly
Born(1896-05-17)May 17, 1896
DiedNovember 17, 1982(1982-11-17) (aged 86)
Years active19131965
Basil de Guichard
(m. 1932; died 1958)
RelativesFrederick W. Donnelly

Early years

Born in Philadelphia, Donnelly was the daughter of Harry Augustus Donnelly and Bessie B. Donnelly.[1]

According to a 1915 article in The Day Book, the young Donnelly was forced to leave Sacred Heart Convent in New Jersey because she repeatedly broke into laughter at inappropriate times.[2]


Donnelly began her stage career at the age of 17 in The Quaker Girl.[1] Actress Rose Stahl took the teen under her wing and, after giving her training and a year's experience in the chorus, placed the then 18-year-old in the play Maggie Pepper.[2] Her Broadway debut brought her to the attention of George M. Cohan, who proceeded to cast her in numerous comic-relief roles in such musicals as Going Up (1917).

Though she made her first film appearance in 1913, her Hollywood career began in earnest in 1931 and lasted until 1957. In her films she often played the wife of Guy Kibbee (Footlight Parade, Wonder Bar, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). Among her roles was the part of Sister Michael in The Bells of St. Mary's, starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Years after her final film role, she returned to the stage, understudying Patsy Kelly in the Broadway revival of No No Nanette with old co-star Ruby Keeler and later appearing in the touring production starring Don Ameche and Evelyn Keyes.

Her uncle, Frederick W. Donnelly, was the longtime mayor of Trenton, New Jersey.[3][4]

Personal life

Donnelly was married to automobile executive Basil de Guichard, from 1932 until his death in 1958.[3][5] She was a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election[6].


Donnelly died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City at age 86. She was survived by her sister.[5]

Complete filmography


  1. Nissen, Axel (2016). Accustomed to Her Face: Thirty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood. McFarland. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9781476626062. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  2. "She Laughed Her Way From Convent to Stage". The Day Book. April 22, 1915 via
  3. "Ruth Donnelly, Film Actress, Will Marry". Santa Cruz Evening News. Associated Press. June 24, 1932 via
  4. "F. Donnelly Dead. 21 Years as Mayor. Trenton Leader Resigned in 1932 Because of Health. His Father Mayor 1884-86". New York Times. September 26, 1935. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
  5. Blau, Eleanor (November 19, 1982). "Ruth Donnelly, Comedienne and Character Actor in Films". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  6. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
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