Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Ford, Ruth mss., ca. 1936-1986, consist of the papers of stage and screen actress Ruth Ford. Ruth Ford was born on July 7, 1911 in Brookhaven, Mississippi to Charles and Gertrude Cato Ford. Her parents owned and managed hotels in several southern towns; as a result Ford and her brother, the poet, novelist and surrealist artist, Charles Henri Ford, spent much of their childhood moving from hotel to hotel. Ford married Goetz (Peter) Van Eyck in the 1940s but the marriage soon ended in divorce. In 1950, she married actor Zachary Scott and they remained together until his death in 1965.

After joining her brother in New York City in the 1930s, Ford modeled for well-known professional photographers Carl Van Vechten, Man Ray and Cecil Beaton, whose photos appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Mademoiselle and Harper's. In 1938, she performed in "The Shoemaker's Holiday," a production of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater Group. Subsequently moving to Hollywood, she made approximately two dozen B-movies, including The Gorilla Man and Lady Gangster. She was later to remark that she "made so many terrible movies in Hollywood." Returning to New York City, Ford experienced greater success in the theater. An acquaintance of William Faulkner's since their days in Mississippi, in 1959 she starred in the well-reviewed title role of Temple Drake in Faulkner's play Requiem for a Nun. She went on to work on Broadway and in television productions. She died in New York City on August 12, 2009 at the age of 98.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Miscellaneous.

Correspondents include Elre Eick, John Huston, Jorgen Roos, Goetz (Peter) Van Eyck, and Orson Welles. Miscellaneous materials include a typescript of an untitled original treatment written by John Huston and Ruth Marton (i.e., Ruth Ford).

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2011

Collection size: 833 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.