Ruth Hussey

Ruth Carol Hussey (October 30, 1911[1][2] – April 19, 2005) was an American actress best known for her Academy Award-nominated role as photographer Elizabeth Imbrie in The Philadelphia Story.

Ruth Hussey
Ruth Carol Hussey

(1911-10-30)October 30, 1911
DiedApril 19, 2005(2005-04-19) (aged 93)
Alma materPembroke College in Brown University
University of Michigan
Years active1937–1973
Spouse(s)Charles Robert Longenecker (1942–2002) (his death)
RelativesJohn Longenecker (son)

Early life

Hussey was born in Providence, Rhode Island, October 30, 1911. She was also known as Ruth Carol O'Rourke.[3][4] Her father, George R. Hussey, died of the Spanish flu in 1918 when she was seven years old. Ten years later, her mother, Julia Corbett Hussey,[5] married a family friend, William O'Rourke, who had worked at the family's mail-order silver enterprise. She grew up at 179 Ontario Street.[6] She had an older brother, Robert, and a younger sister, Betty.[6]

After obtaining her early education in Providence's public schools, Hussey studied art at Pembroke College[7] and graduated from that institution in 1936. She never landed a role in any of the plays for which she tried out at Pembroke. She then received a degree in theatre from the University of Michigan[8] School of Drama, and worked as an actress with a summer stock company in Michigan for two seasons.[9] She also attended Boston Business College and Michigan School of Drama.[10]


After working as an actress in summer stock, she returned to Providence and worked as a radio fashion commentator on a local station.[11] She wrote the ad copy for a Providence clothing store and read it on the radio each afternoon. She was encouraged by a friend to try out for acting roles at the Providence Playhouse. The theater director there turned her down, saying the roles were cast only out of New York City. Later that week, she journeyed to New York City and on her first day there, she signed with a talent agent who booked her for a role in a play starting the next day back at the Providence Playhouse.

In New York City, she also worked for a time as a model. She then landed a number of stage roles with touring companies. Dead End toured the country in 1937 and the last theater on the road trip was at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, where she was spotted on opening night by MGM talent scout Billy Grady. MGM signed her to a players contract and she made her film debut in 1937. She quickly became a leading lady in MGM's "B" unit, usually playing sophisticated, worldly roles. For a 1940 "A" picture role, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her turn as Elizabeth Imbrie, the cynical magazine photographer and almost-girlfriend of James Stewart's character Macaulay Connor in The Philadelphia Story.[4] In 1941, exhibitors voted her the third-most popular new star in Hollywood.[12]

Hussey also worked with Robert Taylor in Flight Command (1940), Robert Young in Northwest Passage (1940) and H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), Van Heflin in Tennessee Johnson (1942), Ray Milland in The Uninvited (1944), and Alan Ladd in The Great Gatsby (1949).

In 1946, she starred on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play State of the Union.[10] Her 1949 role in Goodbye, My Fancy on Broadway caused a Billboard reviewer to write: "Miss Hussey brings a splendid aliveness and warmth to the lovely congresswoman...."[13]

She filled in for Jean Arthur in the 1955 Lux Radio Theater presentation of Shane, playing Miriam Starrett, alongside the film’s original stars Alan Ladd and Van Heflin.

In 1960, she co-starred in The Facts of Life with Bob Hope. Hussey was also active in early television drama.

Personal life

On August 9, 1942, Hussey married talent agent and radio producer C. Robert "Bob" Longenecker (1909–2002) at Mission San Antonio de Pala in north San Diego County, California. Longenecker was born and raised in Lititz, Pennsylvania. They raised three children: George Robert Longenecker, John William Longenecker, and Mary Elizabeth Hendrix.[14]

Following the birth of her children, Hussey focused much of her attention on family activities and, in 1964, designed a family cabin in the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead, California. In 1967, she was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.[15]

In 1977, she and her husband moved from their Brentwood family home to Rancho Carlsbad in Carlsbad, California. Her husband died in 2002 shortly after celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

Her son John Longenecker works as a cinematographer and film director. He won an Academy Award for producing a live-action short film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970).

She was also active in Catholic charities,[16] was noted for painting in watercolors,[16] and was a lifelong Democrat[17] although she did vote for Republican Thomas Dewey in 1944[18] and for Hollywood friend and former co-star Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections.


Hussey died April 19, 2005,[4] at the age of 93, from complications from an appendectomy.[19] She is interred at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.[20]


Radio appearances

1943 Lux Theater The Navy Comes Through

(Nurse Myra Mallory)

1949Hallmark PlayhouseParnassus on Wheels[21]
1952Family TheaterVacation for Mom[22]
1952Hollywood Star PlayhouseAll Brides Are Beautiful[23]
1953Family TheaterNamgay Doola (hostess)[24]


  1. Vallance, Tom (2005-04-22). "Ruth Hussey: Sophisticated Forties Supporting Actress". Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  2. "Ruth Hussey, 93, an Actress In 'Philadelphia Story' Film". 2005-04-22. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  3. Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2, p. 591.
  4. "Ruth Hussey". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  5. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007.
  6. Rhode Island, State Census, 1925.
  7. "Ruth Hussey, g'33-'34". The Michigan Alumnus. XLVII (1): 422. October 5, 1940. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  8. "Ruth Hussey". Music @ Michigan. 38 (2): 54. Spring 2005.
  9. Bergan, Ronald (April 22, 2005). "Ruth Hussey: Gifted and witty actor always on the sidelines of glamour". The Guardian. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  10. "Ruth Hussey Hadn't Seen Many Plays Before Playing in Hit". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 26. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  11. "Hollywood said they couldn't, but they did!". The Montana Standard. October 18, 1942. p. 24. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  12. "CUPID'S INFLUENCE ON THE FILM BOX-OFFICE". The Argus. Melbourne. 4 October 1941. p. 7 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  13. Francis, Bob (July 2, 1949). "Broadway Reviews: Goodbye, My Fancy". Billboard. pp. 51, 54. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  14. Anderson, Nancy (October 16, 1973). "Ruth Hussey's Agent Gave Her Another Major Career". The Monroe News-Star. p. 6. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  15. "Ruth Hussey (Longenecker)". Riverside, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 28 December 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  16. "Hussey, Ruth", American National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  17. Callahan, Dan (2012). "Quiet Pragmatism: Ruth Hussey", The Chiseler: Forgotten Authors, Neglected Stars, and Lost Languages Rediscovered. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  18. Critchlow, Donald T. (2013). "Anticommunism Comes to Hollywood", When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics, p. 67. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press (USA). Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  19. "Ruth Hussey". 2005-04-21. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  20. Wilson, Scott (2016). "6289. Hussey, Ruth", Final Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, third edition, p. 363. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  21. "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. 40 (1): 32–39. Winter 2014.
  22. Kirby, Walter (November 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 18, 2015 via
  23. Kirby, Walter (December 28, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 36. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  24. Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 via
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