When movies are discussed -- whether at film festivals or late at night in
front of the television set -- one film is consistently acclaimed as an
important cinematic achievement. The movie is "Citizen Kane," and the young,
New York theater-trained actress who played Orson Welles' wife was Ruth
This landmark film had its 50th anniversary in 1991, and to celebrate it, Ms. Warrick was honored with a caricature on the wall of the famed New York restaurant, Sardi's. "Citizen Kane" was Ms. Warrick's entry into Hollywood. Some 20 other movies (including "The Great Bank Robbery"); a long run and an Emmy nomination as Hannah Cord in "Peyton Place"; five years on "As the World Turns"; a starring role in the television series, "Father of the Bride"; guest starring roles on television and a long list of plays have followed. Ruth Warrick is a lady who likes to stay busy.
Ms. Warrick is no stranger to Broadway. She appeared with Jackie Gleason in the musical, "Take Me Along," and in a featured role in "Pal Joey." She also played on Broadway and on tour in the hit play, "Irene." In regional theater she starred in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and in "Long Day's Journey Into Night." She also toured as Anna in "The King and I." Her popular and fascinating autobiography, "The Confessions of Phoebe Tyler," discusses the character of Phoebe, whom she has portrayed since the show's inception in 1970, as well as Ms. Warrick's life as an actress in New York and Hollywood. The book, which she wrote with Don Preston, was published in 1980 by Prentice-Hall.
Ms. Warrick has guest starred on "The Love Boat" and in the "ABC Afterschool Specials." She also played the familiar role of Hannah Cord in the 1985 made-for-television movie, "Return to Peyton Place." More recently, on stage, she starred in a production of "Butterflies Are Free" at Montclair (N.J.) State College and in James Kirkwood's "Legends" at Tiffany's Attic Dinner Playhouse in Kansas City, Missouri.
Long active in arts-in-education programs, including programs for the disadvantaged in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Ruth received the first national Arts in Education Award in 1983 from the Board of Directors of Business and Industry for Arts in Education, Inc. She was cited for leadership in helping to make the arts more central to the schooling process. The award was then named the Ruth Warrick Award for Arts in Education and is now given annually.
In Watts, Ms. Warrick was a co-founder of Operation Bootstrap, where she taught communication skills. In New York City, she taught at Julia Richman High School as part of President Carter's "City in Schools" program. She has been a Dropout Prevention consultant for the Department of Labor under President John F. Kennedy and for the Job Training Corps under President Johnson.
Recently, Ms. Warrick was appointed to the U.N. World Women's Committee on Mental Health. Ruth explains, "The thrust of this organization is to bring together the two most needy areas of our society, the neglected young and the neglected old, in a bonding relationship that is extremely beneficial to both."
On her birthday in 1990, she made the announcement that maestro Ulf Bjorlin, for whom she had narrated his composition, "Portrait of Wallenberg," would write a symphonic work on the theme of Heloise and Abelard. On her next birthday, he played the piano version of the work as his gift to her. The work, based on the metaphysical play, "The Secret Bread," was presented in May, 1992, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with an orchestra, actors, two choruses and a ballet.In 1991, Ms. Warrick received her certification as a licensed metaphysical teacher from Unity School of Practical Christianity in Lees Summit, Missouri.
Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Ms, Warrick moved to Kansas City while she was in high school and later attended the University of Kansas City. A promotional tour brought her to New York; her interest in acting brought her to the Mercury Theater, headed by Orson Welles, with whom she ultimately headed for Hollywood.
Ms. Warrick passed away on Saturday, January 15th at 12:15AM in her Manhattan home. Official reports list the cause of Ms. Warrick's death as complications from pneumonia. She was 88.