Special Report By Monica Sullivan
Ruth Terry’s dream was to sing in nightclubs when she grew up. She got her wish & then some. While appearing as a vocalist at a Miami hotel, she was spotted by talent agents & signed to a film contract at 20th Century Fox. When Terry arrived in Hollywood in 1937 at the age of sixteen, Shirley Temple was the biggest star on the lot & the planet!) for the third of four straight years in a row. Ruth Terry made her debut in the musical “Love & Hisses” opposite Walter Winchell, Ben Bernie, Bert Lahr & Joan Davis. The following year, Terry was cast as a specialty singer in a George Sanders spy film called “International Settlement,” & then went on to appear in a bright musical comedy starring John Barrymore, Jack Haley & Joan Davis called “Hold That Co—Ed” PLUS the biggest Fox film of 1936, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” “Wife, Husband & Friend” & “Hotel For Women” ended her six—film contract with Fox &, at age 19, she moved over to her favorite studio, the place she would consider home for the rest of her career: Republic.
First, she made 1940’s “Angel From Texas,” at Warner Bros. with newlywed co—stars Ronald Reagan & Jane Wyman. Then she starred opposite Pat O’Brien in “Slightly Honorable” an enjoyable mystery directed by Tay Garnett. But Republic is where she made twenty out of 31 features by the time she was 26, most of them action—packed Westerns or breezy musicals (& often a combination of both). The girl who only wanted to sing in front of live audiences was receiving rave reviews as a Movie Actress within the first five years of her arrival in Hollywood. She worked with Roy Rogers & Gene Autry & even, as in pictures like “Mystery Broadcast,” investigated & solved a murder without singing a note. When she called it a career in 1947, she meant it, although she did appear in a John Agar horror flick for Fox in 1962, “Hand of Death,” & she was also interviewed extensively for “The Republic Pictures Story” produced by AMC in 1991. You really have to search the digital channels and video shelves for Ruth Terry, but it’s worth it. She was a bright presence in a score of films that would have been nothing without her.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 2/9/00
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