Ruth Chatterton (December 24, 1892 – November 24, 1961) was an American stage, film, and television actress, aviatrix and novelist. She was at her most popular in the early to mid-1930s, and in the same era gained prominence as an aviator, one of the few female pilots in the United States at the time. In the late 1930s, Chatterton retired from film acting but continued her career on the stage. She had several TV roles beginning in the late 1940s and became a successful novelist in the 1950s. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1961.
In 1911, Chatterton made her Broadway stage debut in The Great Name. Her greatest success onstage came in 1914, when she starred in the play Daddy Long Legs, adapted from the novel by Jean Webster.Chatterton married her first husband, actor Ralph Forbes, on December 19, 1924, in Manhattan. They moved to Los Angeles. With the help of Emil Jannings, she was cast in her first film role in Sins of the Fathers in 1928. That same year, she was signed to a contract by Paramount Pictures. Chatterton's first film for Paramount was also her first sound film, The Doctor's Secret, released in 1929. Chatterton was able to make the transition from silents to sound because of her stage experience.Later in 1929, Chatterton was loaned to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she starred in Madame X. The film was a critical and box-office success, and effectively launched Chatterton's career. For her work in the film, Chatterton received her first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress. The following year, she starred in Sarah and Son, portraying an impoverished housewife who rises to fame and fortune as an opera singer. The film was another critical and financial success, and Chatterton received a second Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Later that year, Chatterton was voted the second female star of the year, behind only Norma Shearer, in a poll conducted by the West Coast film exhibitors. In 1933, Chatterton starred in the successful Pre-Code comedy-drama Female. When she left Paramount Pictures, her initial home studio, for Warner Bros., along with Kay Francis and William Powell, the brothers Warner were said to then need an infusion of "class". She co-starred in the film Dodsworth (1936), for Samuel Goldwyn, which is regarded widely as her finest film, giving what many considered an Oscar-worthy performance, although she was not nominated. Due to her age and the studios' focus on younger, more bankable stars, she moved to England and continued to star in films there. Chatterton's final film was A Royal Divorce (1938).
Flying. Chatterton was one of the few woman aviators at the time, and was good friends with Amelia Earhart. She flew solo across the U.S. several times, and served as sponsor of the Sportsman Pilot Mixed Air Derby and the annual Ruth Chatterton Air Derby during the 1930s; she also opened the National Air Races in Los Angeles in 1936. She taught British film and stage actor Brian Aherne to fly, an experience he described at length in his 1969 autobiography A Proper Job. Marriages. Chatterton was married three times and had no children. In 1924, she married British actor Ralph Forbes, who starred opposite her that same year in The Magnolia Lady, a musical version of the A.E. Thomas and Alice Duer Miller hit Come Out of the Kitchen. Their divorce was finalized on August 12, 1932. The following day, August 13, Chatterton married George Brent, her The Rich Are Always with Us and The Crash co-star, in Harrison, New York. The couple separated in March 1934 and were divorced in October 1934.Chatterton married actor Barry Thomson in 1942. They remained married until his death in 1960.
Chatterton was born in New York City on Christmas Eve 1892 to Walter, an architect, and Lillian (née Reed) Chatterton. She was of English and French extraction. Her parents separated while she was young. Chatterton attended Mrs. Hagen's School in Pelham, New York.In 1908, Chatterton and her friends were attending a play in Washington, D.C. Chatterton later criticized the acting of the lead actress to her friends, who challenged her to become a stage actress herself or "shut up". Chatterton accepted the challenge, and a few days later, joined the chorus of the stage show. She soon dropped out of school to pursue a stage career. Aged 16, Chatterton joined the Friend Stock Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she remained for six months.
Movies & TV shows
A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1930 and July 1934, before the Hollywood Production Code —the infamous Hays Code— was enforced.
1 TV show
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City based greeting card company. The longest-running primetime series in the history of tel...
1 TV show
The Philco Television Playhouse
The Philco Television Playhouse is an American anthology series that was broadcast live on NBC from 1948 to 1955. Produced by Fred Coe, the series was sponsored by Philco. It was one of the most respe...
Jean Boucheron the cat burglar is the darling of the Montmartre whores--and catches the eye of slumming socialite Zelia de Chaumont, who decides to "reform" him. A complication is his lovely young war...
When a busybody teacher in a girls' finishing school finds a love letter from a student to an unknown man, a minor scandal erupts.
Lady of Secrets
Because of a very unhappy affair she had earlier in her life, a woman shuts herself off from the rest of the world.
A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.
One woman faces many trials on the road to romance after unwittingly marrying a bigamist, then a carnival's barker and then falling for a young engineer.
Alison Drake, the tough-minded executive of an automobile factory, succeeds in the man's world of business until she encounters an independent design engineer.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow
A young wife wants to have children, but her husband neglects her. She confides her longings to a handsome brain surgeon. Complications ensue.
Linda Gault is a luxury loving wife who casually seduces other men while getting investment tips from one of her lovers.
Frisco Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has become the madame of prosperous bawdy house. She puts her son up for adoption and he rises to prominence as district attorney dedicate...
The Rich Are Always with Us
A wealthy couple's marriage is falling apart due to the man's infidelity. The wife's male friend has long loved her and sees his big opportunity.
The House That Shadows Built
The House That Shadows Built (1931) is a short feature film, roughly 55 minutes long, from Paramount Pictures, made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the studio's founding in 1912. The film was a p...
In this society drama set in contemporary England, a noblewoman pretends to be an adulteress in order to protect her sister-in-law, who actually is.
Once a Lady
A young Russian woman marries a wealthy Englishman, and has a daughter with him. After she has an affair with one of his friends, she is forced to leave Britain and moves to Paris. Many years later, h...
The Magnificent Lie
A nightclub singer, taking pity on a blind soldier, pretends that she is the woman he once loved before he was wounded.
The Right to Love
A woman becomes estranged from her daughter when the girl learns that she is illegitimate.
Paramount on Parade
This 1930 film, a collection of songs and sketches showcasing Paramount Studios' contract stars, credits 11 directors (including Dorothy Arzner, Ernst Lubitsch, Victor Schertzinger and Edmund Goulding...
Sarah and Son
A ne'er-do-well husband, after years of abusing his wife, disappears with their son, and winds up selling him to a wealthy family. Years later, the wife, now a world-famous opera singer, finally has e...
The Lady of Scandal
A famous British actress gets involved with two members of a reserved British noble family, whose plan to get rid of her backfires.
A lawyer, left by his wife gets drunk and marries a chorus girl, or so he learns the morning after.
The Laughing Lady
A society woman wrongly -- and very publicly -- accused of infidelity is dropped by her friends, spurned by her husband, and faced with the loss of her child.
Charming Sinners was a stilted adaptation of Somerset Maugham's play The Constant Wife. Robert Miles (Clive Brook) starts the ball rolling when he falls in love with Anne-Marie Whitley (Mary Nolan), t...
A young, unfaithful wife and mother is thrown out by her cold, unforgiving husband, the Attorney General of France. She is barred from ever seeing her three year old son again despite her earnest atte...
Sins of the Fathers
A married restaurant owner is persuaded to become a bootlegger by a beautiful young girl. When he starts making money at it, she steals it, then runs off with another man. His wife finds out what happ...
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ruth_Chatterton", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.