Ruth Clifford

Active - 1917 - 1964  |   Born - Feb 17, 1900   |   Died - Dec 1, 1998   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Western

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Veteran American silent-screen actress Ruth Clifford began her career at the tender age of 16, starring for various Universal companies. Britisher Monroe Salisbury, the teenage Clifford's leading man in melodramas such as The Savage (1917), Hungry Eyes (1918), and The Millionaire Pirate (1919), was a paunchy gent no longer in the bloom of youth and sporting an ill-fitting hairpiece. According to the actress, although ever the gentleman, Mr. Salisbury's appearance made love scenes somewhat uneasy. Clifford played Ann Rutledge in Abraham Lincoln (1924), but overall her career was on the wane when she struck up a lifelong friendship with director John Ford in the late 1920s. Along with another early silent-screen actress, Mae Marsh, Clifford would turn up in about every other Ford film, usually playing pioneer women. In more glamorous surroundings, Clifford and Marsh stole the limelight for a brief moment as aging saloon belles in Three Godfathers (1948) and, away from Ford, Clifford was the studio head's secretary in Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950). Her last recorded appearance was in Ford's Two Rode Together in 1961; she was billed merely as "Woman." Although not known for enjoying interviews, Clifford was keenly interested in film history and made appearances in two documentaries on the subject: the 1984 Ulster Television program A Seat in the Stars: The Cinema and Ireland and historian Anthony Slide's ground-breaking The Silent Feminists: America's First Women Directors. In the latter, she discussed the work of Elsie Jane Wilson, Clifford's director on both The Lure of Luxury (1918) and The Game's Up (1919). As old as the century, Ruth Clifford was one of the last remaining leading ladies of the early, silent era when she died at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills on December 1, 1998.

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