Ruth Carol Hussey (October 30, 1911 – April 19, 2005) 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. When she was nine years old, her father died of the Spanish flu. After her mother remarried, she adopted her stepfather's surname and grew up as Ruth O'Rourke. Following graduation from high school, she went on to attend Pembroke College graduating in 1936. She never landed a role in any of the plays she tried out for at Pembroke. She then studied drama graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Drama, and worked as an actress with a summer stockcompany 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 The Philadelphia Story
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 Endtoured the country in 1937 and the last theater on the road trip was at the Biltmore Hotelin 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 almost-girlfriend of James Stewart's character Macaulay Connor in The Philadelphia Story. In 1941 exhibitors voted her the third most popular new star in Hollywood.
Hussey also worked with Robert Taylor in Flight Command (1940), Robert Young in H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), Van Heflin inTennessee Johnson (1942), Ray Milland in The Uninvited (1944) and Alan Ladd in The Great Gatsby (1949). In 1946 she starred on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play State of the Union. In 1960 she co-starred in The Facts of Life with Bob Hope. Hussey was also active in early television drama.
Ruth Hussey and her husband Bob Longenecker
On August 9, 1942, Hussey married talent agent and radio producer C. Robert Bob Longenecker (1909–2002) at Mission San Antonio de Pala in North San Diego County, California. Longenecker was born and raised in Lititz, Pennsylvania. They raised three children: Rob Longenecker, John Longenecker, and Mary Hendrix. Following the birth of her children, Hussey focused much of her attention on family activities, and, in 1964 designed a family cabin in the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead, California.
In 1977 she and her husband moved from their Brentwood family home to Rancho Carlsbad in Carlsbad, California. Her husband died in 2002 shortly after celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
Her son John Longenecker works as a cinematographer and film director. He won an Academy Award for producing a live action short film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970).
Hussey died at aged 93, from complications of an appendectomy.