Ruth Terry

Ruth Mae Terry (born Ruth Mae McMahon, October 21, 1920 March 11, 2016)[1] was an American singer and actress in film and television from the 1930s to the 1960s. She claimed her stage name came from Walter Winchell, who combined the names of two then-famous baseball players, Babe Ruth and Bill Terry.[2]

Ruth Terry
Terry pictured in 1940
Ruth Mae McMahon

October 21, 1920
DiedMarch 11, 2016 (aged 95)
OccupationFilm actress, singer
Years active1937–1964
Spouse(s)John Martin(1942-?)
John P. Gilmour (1947-?)
John Ledbetter (1966–2016)

Early years

Terry was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan,[1] the daughter of Irish-American parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. McMahon.[3] She attended St John's Catholic School in Benton Harbor.[4]

Terry won a number of prizes for singing before singing with the Paul Ash Theater Orchestra at the age of twelve. At that same age, she left her hometown to sing with Clyde McCoy's orchestra.[4]


Terry's first movie was Love and Hisses in 1937 with Walter Winchell, at which time she was earning $400 per week. Her first western was Call of the Canyon with Gene Autry. She appeared in several Roy Rogers movies. Her best-known movie was Pistol Packin' Mama, based on the song of the same name with Robert Livingston. She retired when she married her second husband in 1966.[5]

While making films, Terry continued her singing career in a limited way. On August 15, 1943, she appeared as guest female singer on The Bob Crosby Show on NBC radio.[6]

Personal life

On June 20, 1942, Terry and test pilot John Martin eloped and were married in Las Vegas, Nevada.[4] On October 25, 1947, she married John P. Gilmour, a Canadian. A November 8, 1947, article in her hometown newspaper, The News-Palladium, reported, "She has given up her career as an actress and she and her husband and her four-year-old son by a previous marriage will make their home at St. Genevieve de Pierre Fonds, Quebec."[7]

Terry was a Republican who supported Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election[8].


Terry died on March 11, 2016 at the age of 95.[9]


Year Title Role Notes
1937Love and HissesHawaiian Specialty Singer
1938International SettlementVera Dale
1938Alexander's Ragtime BandRuby20th Century Fox
1938Hold That Co-edEdie
1939Wife, Husband and FriendCarol
1939The Hound of the BaskervillesBetsy AnnUncredited
1939Hotel for WomenCraig's Receptionist
1939Slightly HonorableAnn SeymourUnited Artists
1940An Angel from TexasValerie Blayne
1940Sing, Dance, Plenty HotIrene
1941Blondie Goes LatinLovey Nelson, the SingerColumbia
1941Rookies on ParadeLois Rogers
1941Appointment for LoveEdith Meredith
1942Sleepytime GalSugar CastonRepublic
1942The Affairs of Jimmy ValentineBonnie ForbesRepublic
1942Call of the CanyonKatherine 'Kit' CarsonRepublic
1942Youth on ParadePatty Flynn / Betty ReillyRepublic
1942Heart of the Golden WestMary Lou PopenRepublic
1943The Man from Music MountainLaramie WintersRepublic
1943Mystery BroadcastJan CornellRepublic
1943Pistol Packin' MamaVicki Norris / Sally BensonRepublic
1944Hands Across the BorderKim AdamsRepublic
1944JamboreeRuth Cartwright
1944Goodnight, SweetheartCaryl Martin
1944Three Little SistersHallie Scott
1944Sing, Neighbor, SingVirginia Blake
1944My BuddyLola
1944Lake Placid SerenadeSusan Cermak
1945Steppin' in SocietyLola Forrest
1945The CheatersTherese Pidgeon
1945Tell It to a StarCarol LambertRepublic
Robert Livingston and Aurora Miranda
1947Smoky River SerenadeSue GreeleyColumbia
1962Hand of DeathWoman with Packages
1964The New InternsCarolyn's MotherUncredited, (final film role)


  1. "Ruth Terry, Hollywood actress – obituary". The Telegraph. May 4, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  2. Fitzgerald, Mike. "Ruth Terry Interview". Western Clippings. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  3. "Ruth Terry -- A Local Product". The News-Palladium. Michigan, Benton Harbor. January 1, 1938. p. 134. Retrieved June 20, 2016 via
  4. "Ruth Terry Wed At Las Vegas To Test Pilot On Saturday". The News-Palladium. Michigan, Benton Harbor. June 22, 1942. p. 4. Retrieved June 22, 2016 via
  5. "Ruth Terry, Miami film discovery, appears at Lincoln Theater tonight". The Miami News. December 27, 1939. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  6. Rathbun, Joe (August 15, 1943). "Joe's Radio Parade". The Times Recorder. Ohio, Zanesville. p. 22. Retrieved June 22, 2016 via
  7. "Actress Ruth Terry Marries Canadian, Drops Film Career". The News-Palladium. Michigan, Benton Harbor. November 8, 1947. p. 8. Retrieved June 22, 2016 via
  8. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
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