Ruth McDevitt Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (2)  | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Coldwater, Michigan, USA
Died in Hollywood, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameRuth Thane Shoecraft

Mini Bio (1)

Delightfully daffy and quite an apple dumpling of a darling, this cheerfully wizened character actress was born Ruth Thane Shoecraft on September 13, 1895, in Michigan but raised in Ohio where her father served as a county sheriff. Ruth's parents, both musicians, encouraged her to perform. Graduating from the Wooster University in Ohio, she later studied drama at the Toledo Dramatic Academy.

Ruth would also attend the American Academy of Dramatic Art (AADA) with strong designs on a New York career but instead married a Florida widower, Patrick McDevitt, a contractor, and decided to focus on domestic life. With the passing of her husband, however, in 1934, the now broaching 40-year-old lady decided to give it a go again and began dabbling in community theater plays

Reigniting her long dormant desires, Ruth eventually found herself in New York and it wasn't long before she became a viable 30's and 40's presence on Broadway and radio in both comedic and dramatic fare. Making her debut in late 1937 with a short-lived production of "Straw Hat" (as Ruth Thane McDevitt -- she shortened it later on), Ruth went on to appear in several other plays that had brief lives such as "Young Couple Wanted" (1940), "Goodbye in the Night" (1940), "Mr. Big" (1941) and "Meet a Body" (1944). She earned excellent notices when she replaced star Josephine Hull in the Broadway comedies "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1942) and "The Solid Gold Cadillac" (1954). Years later, she and Hull would also co-star as anomalous sisters Martha and Abby Brewster, respectively, in a 1949 TV production of "Harvey" for the "Ford Theatre Hour." As for radio, she provided the voice of Jane Channing on the popular radio soap "This Life Is Mine." during the war years.

A flair for eccentric comedy opened a huge door for Ruth in the TV and film worlds during the 50s as one of those faces you couldn't put a name to but instinctively knew. Although she made her film debut in the little seen Paul Douglas sports drama The Guy Who Came Back (1951), most of Ruth's on-camera performances were on the small screen with such attention-getting roles as Mom Peepers, the mother of meek Wally Cox in the comedy series Mister Peepers (1952) series. She graced several of the popular anthology series as well ("Lux Video Theatre," "Philco Television Playhouse," "Kraft Theatre," "Studio One in Hollywood").

In the 1960's, Ruth appeared on Broadway in "The Best Man" and earned particularly fine reviews for what would be her last New York show, "Absence of a Cello." She also showed up on several sitcoms while lightening up many a drama. Her program guest list includes "Decoy," "Naked City," "Dr. Kildare," the daytime soaper "The Doctors." "Route 66," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Mayberry R.F.D.," "My World and Welcome to It," "Ironside," "Love, American Style" and "Bewitched." She also milked laughs as a gun totin', sharp-shootin' granny in the comedy Pistols 'n' Petticoats (1966) starring Ann Sheridan. Sadly, the series was abruptly canceled after only one season due to the star's death from cancer.

Ruth decorated a number of fluffy film comedies as a befuddled, warble-voiced elderly in such lightweight fare as The Parent Trap (1961), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), Angel in My Pocket (1969) and Mame (1974), and would continue to perform right up until her death. In her twilight years, she provided comedy relief as eccentric advice columnist and crossword puzzle enthusiast Emily Cowles in the cult supernatural thriller series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974) starring Darren McGavin. Her final guest appearances included "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Phyllis."

Ruth died of natural causes at age 80 on May 27, 1976, in Los Angeles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (1)

Spouse Mr. Patrick John McDevitt (8 December 1928 - 18 September 1934)  (his death)

Trivia (2)

During blocking rehearsals for an episode of "Here's Lucy", Ruth had trouble standing on the mark where the director wanted her to stand. After several failed attempts to hit her mark, Lucille Ball went over to Ruth and kicked her foot hard in an attempt to move her into place. Ruth fell to the floor screaming in pain.
Father: John B. Shoecraft; Mother: Elizabeth C. Imber.

Salary (1)

Dear Heart (1964) $4,500

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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