Ruth Roman

Ruth Roman (December 22, 1922  September 9, 1999[5]) was an American actress of film, stage, and television.

Ruth Roman
Born(1922-12-22)December 22, 1922[1][2][3]
DiedSeptember 9, 1999(1999-09-09) (aged 76)
Years active1943–1989
Spouse(s)Jack Flaxman (1939–c. 1941)[4]
Mortimer Hall (1950–1956)
Bud Burton Moss (1956–1960)
William Ross Wilson (1976–1999)
ChildrenRichard Roman Hall (b. 1952)
FamilyDorothy Schiff (mother-in-law)

After playing stage roles in the East Coast, she relocated to Hollywood to pursue a career in films. She appeared in several uncredited bit parts before she was cast in the western Harmony Trail (1944) and the serial Jungle Queen (1945), her first credited film performances.

She achieved her first notable success with a role in The Window (1949) and a year later was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance in Champion (1949).[6] In the early 1950s, she was under contract to Warner Bros., where she starred in a variety of films, including the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train (1951).

In the mid-1950s, she continued starring in films and also began playing guest roles in television series. Her television appearances earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[7]

Early life and stage experience

Ruth Roman was born in Massachusetts to Lithuanian-Jewish parents, Mary Pauline (née Gold) and Abraham Roman.[2][8] Her mother was a dancer and her father a barker in a carnival that they owned at Revere, Massachusetts. She had two sisters, Anna and Eva. Her father died when Ruth was eight, and her mother sold the carnival.[9] Later, she attended the William Blackstone School and Girls' High School in Boston.[9] She pursued her desire to become an actress by enrolling in the prestigious Bishop Lee Dramatic School in Boston. She enhanced her skills with work in the New England Repertory Company and the Elizabeth Peabody Players.[10]

Heading to New York City, Roman hoped to find success on Broadway. Instead, she worked as a cigarette girl, a hat check girl and a model to make a living and save money.[9]


Roman journeyed to Hollywood, where she obtained bit parts in several films such as Stage Door Canteen (1943), Ladies Courageous (1944), Since You Went Away (1944), Song of Nevada (1944), and Storm Over Lisbon (1944). She had a featured role in a B Western, Harmony Trail (1944) but continued to be mostly unbilled in films such as She Gets Her Man (1945).

Roman was cast in the title role in the thirteen-episode serial Jungle Queen (1945).[11] Her film roles remained small though: See My Lawyer (1945), The Affairs of Susan (1945), You Came Along (1945), Incendiary Blonde (1945), Gilda (1946), Without Reservations (1946), A Night in Casablanca (1946), The Big Clock (1948). While waiting for an opportunity in movies, Roman wrote short stories based on her experiences living in a "theatrical boarding house."[9] She sold two of them – The House of the Seven Garbos and The Whip Song.[9]

Roman's career began to improve in the late 1940s, when she was cast in a featured role in the 1948 release Good Sam. The next year she was chosen for several more important roles, including the title role in the B Western Belle Starr's Daughter, as a killer in the RKO thriller The Window, and as the wife of the central character in Champion starring Kirk Douglas.

Warner Bros.

In recognition of Roman's rising status as an actor, Warner Bros. signed her to a long-term contract in 1949, casting her first as a supporting player for Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest and then for Milton Berle and Virginia Mayo in Always Leave Them Laughing. The studio in 1950 cast her as the female lead in two Westerns, Barricade with Dane Clark and Colt .45 with Randolph Scott.

Warners gave her a star role in Three Secrets (1950), alongside fellow contractees Patricia Neal and Eleanor Parker. She played a distraught mother waiting to learn whether or not her child survived an airplane crash. This was followed by Dallas (1950), where she was Gary Cooper's leading lady. The May 1, 1950, issue of Life magazine featured Roman in a cover story, "The Rapid Rise of Ruth Roman".[12]

Roman got top billing in Lightning Strikes Twice (1951), directed by King Vidor with Richard Todd. She was Farley Granger's love interest in Strangers on a Train (1951), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Roman was top-billed in the thriller Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), co-starring Steve Cochran. She was one of many Warners stars in Starlift (1951), the studio tribute to the Korean War.

Roman's films had not been big hits. She was loaned to MGM for Invitation (1952) then supported Errol Flynn in a B action film, Mara Maru (1952). She went back to MGM to play Glenn Ford's love interest in Young Man with Ideas (1952) and was reunited with Cooper in Blowing Wild (1953), only this time she was billed beneath Barbara Stanwyck.


Roman went to Universal to play Van Heflin's love interest in Tanganyika (1954). At Universal she was a love interest to James Stewart in the Anthony Mann-directed western The Far Country (1955) and at Republic was top billed in The Shanghai Story (1954) with Edmond O'Brien.

Roman did Down Three Dark Streets (1954) with Broderick Crawford, and started appearing on TV in shows like Lux Video Theatre, The Red Skelton Hour, Producers' Showcase, Climax!, General Electric Theater, Celebrity Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre and Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre.

Roman had a good part in England in Joe MacBeth (1955) playing Lady MacBeth and she was with Van Johnson in The Bottom of the Bottle (1956) and Mayo in Great Day in the Morning (1956).

Roman appeared in the Western Rebel in Town (1956) and was top billed in 5 Steps to Danger (1957). She was in Bitter Victory (1957) and went to Italy to star in Desert Desperados (1959).

Continuing work in theatre

In 1959, Roman won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. She was selected from among 47 nominees based on her performance in Two for the Seesaw.[13]

Back in Hollywood she played Paul Anka's mother in Look in Any Window (1961).


Although she never achieved the level of success as a leading lady that many predicted, Roman did work regularly in films well up to the late 1950s. Then she began making appearances on television shows. These included recurring roles in NBC's 1965–1966 The Long, Hot Summer and, toward the end of her career, recurring roles in the 1986 season of Knots Landing and several episodes of Murder, She Wrote, both on CBS.[14]

She guest-starred in NBC's Bonanza and Sam Benedict, ABC's The Bing Crosby Show sitcom and its circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth starring Jack Palance, as well as Burke's Law starring Gene Barry, and I Spy featuring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. She also appeared as a fiery redhead in an episode of Gunsmoke.[14]

She appeared in the early 1960s in the medical dramas The Eleventh Hour and Breaking Point. She starred in a season 3 episode of Mission: Impossible (1968), titled "The Elixir" as Riva Santel as well as a Season 2 episode of Naked City. Many other series featured guest appearances by Roman, including Route 66, The Untouchables (1959 TV series), Mannix, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Mod Squad, The FBI, Tarzan, and The Outer Limits.[14]

In 1971 Roman appeared as Marjorie Worth on "The Men From Shiloh" (rebranded name for the TV western The Virginian) in the episode titled "The Angus Killer."

In 1960, Roman was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6672 Hollywood Boulevard for her contribution to television.[15]

Personal life

Married four times, she had one son, Richard (born November 12, 1952[16]), with her husband Mortimer Hall, son of publisher Dorothy Schiff.[17]

She married Hall on December 17, 1950. In 1956, she sued him for divorce,[18] and the divorce decree became final on April 15, 1957.[19]

Roman was a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.[20]

SS Andrea Doria sinking

In July 1956, Roman was just finishing a trip to Europe with her son Richard, who was three years old at the time. At the port of Cannes, they boarded the Italian passenger liner SS Andrea Doria as First Class passengers for their return passage to the United States. On the night of July 25, the Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish passenger liner MS Stockholm.

Roman was in the Belvedere Lounge when the collision happened and immediately took off her high heels and scrambled back to her cabin barefoot to retrieve her sleeping son. Several hours later, with the other passengers, they were both evacuated from the sinking liner. Richard was lowered first into a waiting lifeboat, but before she could follow, the lifeboat departed. Ruth stepped into the next boat and was eventually rescued along with 750 other survivors from the Andrea Doria by the French passenger liner SS Île de France. Richard was rescued by the Stockholm and was reunited with his mother in New York.[21]


Roman died at the age of 76 in her sleep of natural causes at her beachfront villa on Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, California, on September 9, 1999. She was survived by her son, Richard Roman Hall.[5]

Partial filmography

Radio appearances

1952Hollywood Sound StageOne Way Passage[22]


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-22. Retrieved 2015-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-22. Retrieved 2015-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-22. Retrieved 2015-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Obituary: Ruth Roman". 14 September 1999. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  5. "Obituaries : Ruth Roman; Former Warner Bros. Actress". Los Angeles Times. September 11, 1999. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  6. "Ruth Roman". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  7. "Ruth Roman - Hollywood Star Walk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  8. "Ruth Roman: Hollywood actress who displayed a degree of vulnerability under a worldly exterior",, September 16, 1999.
  9. Stevenson, L.L. (August 18, 1950). "Lights of New York". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  10. Bernstein, Albert (February 12, 1956). "Cinema-Scoop". The Progress-Index. p. 21. Retrieved June 4, 2015 via
  11. Profile,; accessed March 29, 2015.
  12. "The Rapid Rise of Ruth Roman". Life. May 1, 1950. pp. 51–52, 55–56. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  13. "Ruth Roman Receives Sarah Siddon Award". Chicago Tribune. July 9, 1959. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  14. Ruth Roman on IMDb
  15. Ruth Roman,; accessed November 22, 2015.
  16. "Son Born To Ruth Roman". Logansport Pharos-Tribune. November 13, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  17. "Names in the News". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. June 14, 1962. p. 1. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  18. "Ruth Roman Sues". Delaware County Daily Times. February 24, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  19. "Gets Divorce Decree". The News-Herald. April 16, 1957. p. 1. Retrieved June 6, 2015 via
  20. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  21. Honan, William H. (September 11, 1999). "Ruth Roman, 75, Glamorous and Wholesome Star, Dies". The New York Times.
  22. Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved June 2, 2015 via
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