(July 7, 1911 – August 12, 2009)
On this day in 1911, Ruth Ford was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, with a very exciting life in store for her, as her many admirers know very well. In 2008, just a year before Ruth passed away, a discovery was made in a warehouse in Northeastern Italy: a print of a silent comedy film called Too Much Johnson, thought to be long lost, written and directed by Orson Welles. It was shot in 1938, three years before Welles made Citizen Kane. Ruth has a big role in the little movie, which was never intended to stand on its own, but rather to be part of his Mercury Theatre Company’s staging of William Gilette’s 1894 comedy of the same name, Too Much Johnson. The film was never been publicly screened. In 2013 it was shown for the first time at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy and can be found online now, having been beautifully restored.
Too Much Johnson (1938) Directed by Orson Welles
Ruth was a member of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre Company and a lifelong lover of the stage. I still have in my possession numerous printed plays, which Ruth read either for pleasure or with interest of playing a part. I wish she could have lived to see herself in this wonderful film, and I think it is a fitting tribute for her birthday to show it here.
Happy birthday, Ruth. You live on in cinematic magic!
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