Ruth Carol Hussey was an American actress best known for her Academy Award-nominated role as photographer Elizabeth Imbrie in The Philadelphia Story.
Hussey was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1911. Her father died, aged 34, when Ruth was seven years old, from the 1918 flu. She later adopted her stepfather’s surname and was known as Ruth O’Rourke. went on to attend and graduate from Pembroke College in 1933. She never landed a role at Pembroke in any of the school plays she tried out for. She then studied drama in post graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Drama, and worked as an actress with a summer stock company in Michigan for two seasons.
After working as an actress in summer stock, she returned to Providence and worked as a radio fashion commentator on a local station. She wrote the ad copy for a Providence clothing store and read it on the radio each afternoon. One day she was encouraged by a friend to try out for acting roles at the Providence Playhouse. The theater director there turned her down, saying the roles were cast only out of New York City. Later that week she journeyed to New York City and on her first day there she signed-up with a talent agent who booked her for a role in a play starting the next day back at the Providence Playhouse.
In New York City she also worked for a time as a model with the world-famous Powers agency. She then landed a number of stage roles with touring companies. Dead End toured the country in 1937 and the last theater on the road trip was at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles where she was spotted on opening night by MGM talent scout Billy Grady. MGM signed her to a players contract and she made her film debut in 1937. She quickly became a leading lady in MGM’s “B” unit, usually playing sophisticated, worldly roles. For a 1940 “A” picture role she was nominated for an Academy Award for her turn as Elizabeth Imbrie, the cynical magazine photographer and girlfriend of Jimmy Stewart’s character Macaulay Connor in The Philadelphia Story.