Ruth Hussey was never a top star in Hollywood — that’s putting it kindly — but she had a long and successful career covering nearly 70 movie and tv credits over 36 years.
A former Powers model in New York, she was discovered by famed MGM talent scout Billy Grady, while she was touring with a Broadway show in Los Angeles, and soon became the leading lady of the B unit at Metro. Since MGM liked to present itself as a traffiker of “important” in A-list productions, that may not sound like much. But it was.
Her big break came when she was cast in George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story, opposite James Stewart (above with Ruth) and supporting the stars Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Hussy received her first and only Oscar nomination for the role of the photographer, Liz Imbrie, the sensible but slightly sad figure who loses in love. (For Frank’s money, her’s is the most subtly drawn characterization in the 1940 picture, a counter balance to Hepburn’s splashy role as Tracy Lord.)
Her other big role was opposite Ray Milland (above with Ruth) in 1944’s The Uninvited. It is a horror mystery set on the English coast but actually filmed on a Paramount back lot.
Hussey portrays Milland’s sister who inhabits a peculiarly cheap mansion on the seacoast and soon discovers why the price was so favorable. Things that go bump in the night — that sort of thing. Fact is that Hussey received genuine star billing with Milland and costar Donald Crisp.
Another notable movie appearance came in 1949 in the first movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Hussey portrays Daisy Buchanan’s friend, Jordan Baker. In this one, the title role is played by Alan Ladd.
Never the most hard-driving of actresses, she worked sporadically, preferring marriage and child rearing to furthering her career. Since the 1950’s she worked mostly in television. Her final appearance was in 1973, in a Universal tv movie, My Darling Daughter’s Anniversary, costarring Robert Young and Raymond Massey.
Nice company for a “B” actress. (Hussey died in 2005 at age 93.)