Sunday, August 16, 2009

Actress Ruth Ford dies at 98 in NYC; starred in Faulkner play on Broadway

NEW YORK - Actress Ruth Ford, who starred on Broadway in William Faulkner's "Requiem for a Nun," a play he wrote with her in mind, has died. She was 98.

Ford died Wedneday at her Manhattan home, where she entertained some of the world's most celebrated artists, said her lawyer, Karin Gustafson.

Ford met Faulkner, already a published author, while she was attending the University of Mississippi. Gustafson said the two collaborated on the stage adaptation of "Requiem for a Nun," a play based on the characters from his 1931 novel, "Sanctuary."

The play opened on Broadway in 1959 with Ford playing the role of Temple Drake opposite Zachary Scott, her second husband, whom she married in 1950.

The actress also appeared in more than two dozen movies, including John Huston's "Across the Pacific" and "The Keys of the Kingdom" with Gregory Peck.

Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Ford followed her older brother, poet and novelist Charles Henri Ford, to New York in the 1930s. She was inspired to move after meeting his bohemian friends during summer visits. Her brother's partner was the surrealist painter Pavel Tchelitchew.

"After I saw New York, what the hell was I going to do in Mississippi? Marry a shoe salesman?" she asked, according to Gustafson.

Ford first worked as a model, posing for such well-known photographers as Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. She appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper's and Mademoiselle.

In 1939, she landed a role in Orson Welles' theatre production of "The Shoemakers' Holiday."

At the Dakota, a late 19th century citadel-like apartment building where she lived for more than four decades, Ford hosted frequent gatherings that included the likes of Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Terrence McNally and Truman Capote.

People magazine, in a 1975 article, said a chance encounter in her living room between composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Arthur Laurents led to their collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on the musical "West Side Story."

No comments:

Post a Comment