Ruth Nelson

Actor
Distinguished stage actress who was a member of the innovative, politically committed Group Theater in the 1930s and played character roles in Hollywood films of the 40s.

Nelson joined the Group Theater at its ... Read more »

Born: 08/02/1905 in Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Filmography

Actor (12)

Awakenings 1990 (Movie)

Mrs Lowe (Actor)

The Late Show 1976 (Movie)

Mrs Schmidt (Actor)

Three Women 1976 (Movie)

Mrs. Rose (Actor)

Sea of Grass 1947 (Movie)

Selena Hall (Actor)

Humoresque 1946 (Movie)

Esther Boray (Actor)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 1945 (Movie)

Miss McDonough (Actor)

None Shall Escape 1943 (Movie)

Alice Grimm (Actor)

A Christmas Without Snow (TV Show)

Actor

Lethal Innocence (TV Show)

Actor

Skokie (TV Show)

Actor

The Haunting Passion (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Distinguished stage actress who was a member of the innovative, politically committed Group Theater in the 1930s and played character roles in Hollywood films of the 40s.

Nelson joined the Group Theater at its inception and shared in its popular and critical triumph with Clifford Odets' short play, "Waiting for Lefty" (1935). Portraying the wife of a cab driver moving toward union activism, Nelson established a style that would endure through the next decade: she brought a similar plaintive persona and subdued, understated performance style to her Hollywood films of the 40s, mostly playing supportive, working-class women in films like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), "Humoresque" (1946), "Till the End of Time" (1946) and "Mother Wore Tights" (1947).

When her second husband, director John Cromwell, was blacklisted in the early 50s on suspicion of being a member of the Communist party, Nelson turned down a role in "Death of a Salesman" that would have required her to leave him in Los Angeles to return to the New York stage. Later years saw her primarily onstage, notably in the successful 1966 revival of "The Skin of Our Teeth", but she did return to screen work occasionally, including portraying Robert De Niro's mother in "Awakenings" (1990).

Relationships

William Challee

Husband
divorced supporting actor in over 20 films from the 1940s through the 70s, including "Destination Tokyo" (1943), "Force of Evil" (1948), and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970) acted with Nelson in "Sea of Grass" (1947)

John Cromwell

Husband
married c. 1946 until his death in 1979 born December 23, 1888 directed such films as "Of Human Bondage" (1934), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937), "Algiers" (1938), "Since You Went Away" (1944), "The Enchanted Cottage" (1945) and "Caged" (1950) acted alongside Nelson late in life in two Robert Altman films, "Three Women" (1977) and "A Wedding" (1978)

James Cromwell

Step-Son
father John Cromwell

Eva Mudge

Mother
noted quick-change artist

Gay Samuelson

Sister
survived her

Lynda Stack

Sister
survived her

Milestones

1991

Made last stage appearance in the cast of "Uncle Vanya" in New York

1990

Last film, "Awakenings"

1977

Returned to feature films to play roles in "The Late Show" and "Three Women"

1948

Acted in last film in nearly three decades, "Arch of Triumph"

1942

Film debut, "North Star"

1935

Played the taxi driver's wife in the Group Theater's landmark production of Clifford Odets' "Waiting for Lefty"

Was a charter member of New York City's Group Theater in the 1930s

Turned down the role of Willy Loman's wife in the original stage version of Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman"

Sent to Los Angeles to study at a Roman Catholic school in an attempt by her mother to discourage stage career; nonetheless received encouragement from a nun who saw her acting talent

Grew up travelling with her mother on the vaudeville circuit

Joined Tyrone Guthrie's stage repertory company along with husband John Cromwell in the early 1960s

Began performing onstage in the early 1920s

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