Ruth Gordon Jones (October 30, 1896 – August 28, 1985), better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer. She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as the oversolicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way But Loose. In addition to her acting career, Gordon wrote numerous well-known plays, film scripts and books. Gordon won an Academy Award, an Emmy and two Golden Globe awards for her acting.
Gordon was born at 31 Marion St. in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was the only child of Annie Ziegler Jones and Clinton Jones, a factory foreman who had been a ship's captain. Prior to graduating from Quincy High School, she wrote to several of her favorite actresses for an autographed picture. A personal reply she received from Hazel Dawn (whom she had seen in a stage production of The Pink Lady) inspired her to go into acting. Although her father was skeptical of her chances of success in a difficult profession, he took his daughter to New York in 1914, where he enrolled her in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Ruth Gordon began her career early, posing as a picture baby for Mellin's food. In 1915, Gordon appeared as an extra in silent films that were shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey, including as a dancer in The Whirl of Life, a film based on the lives of Vernon and Irene Castle.
That same year, she made her Broadway debut in a revival of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, in the role of Nibs (one of the Lost Boys), appearing onstage with Maude Adams and earning a favorable mention from the powerful critic Alexander Woollcott. Woollcott, who described her favorably as "ever so gay," would become her friend and mentor. In 1918, Gordon played Lola Pratt in the Broadway adaptation of Booth Tarkington's Seventeen opposite actor Gregory Kelly, who later acted with her in North American tours of Frank Craven's The First Year and Tarkington's Clarence and Tweedles. Kelly became her first husband in 1921. Gordon had been enjoying a comeback, appearing on Broadway as Bobby in Maxwell Anderson's Saturday's Children, performing in a serious role after having been typecast for years as a "beautiful, but dumb" character.
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