Ruth Etting

Ruth Etting

From Wikipedia
Ruth Etting
Ruth Etting on the cover of Radio Mirrormagazine, June 1935.
Born November 23, 1897
David City, Nebraska
Died September 24, 1978 (aged 80)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Occupation Singer; actress

Ruth Etting (November 23, 1897 – September 24, 1978) was an American singing star and actress of the 1920s and 1930s, who had over 60 hit recordings and worked in stage, radio, and film. She is known as “America’s sweetheart of song”. Her signature tunes were “Shine On, Harvest Moon“, “Ten Cents a Dance” and “Love Me or Leave Me“. Her other popular recordings included “Button Up Your Overcoat“, “Mean to Me“, “Exactly Like You” and “Shaking the Blues Away”.


Ruth Etting was born in David City, Nebraska in 1897 to Alfred and Winifred (née Kleinhan) Etting. Her mother died when she was five years old; she then went to live with her paternal grandparents, George and Hannah Etting. Alfred Etting remarried and moved away from David City and largely out of his daughter’s life. Ruth Etting left David City at the age of seventeen to attend art school in Chicago. She got a job designing costumes at the Marigold Gardens nightclub, which led to employment singing and dancing in the chorus there. She became a featured vocalist at the nightclub, and married gangster Martin “Moe the Gimp” Snyder on July 12, 1922. He managed her career, booking radio appearances and, eventually, had her signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records. She made her Broadway debut in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. She went on to appear in a number of other hit shows in rapid succession, including Simple Simon and Whoopee!. InHollywood, she made a long series of movie shorts between 1929 and 1936, and three feature movies in 1933 and 1934. In 1936, she appeared in London in Ray Henderson‘s Transatlantic Rhythm.[citation needed]

Recording history

After an unissued test made by Victor on April 4, 1924, she was signed to Columbia Records in February 1926. She remained at Columbia through June 1931, when she split her recording between ARC (Banner, Perfect, Romeo, Oriole, etc.) and Columbia through March 1933. She then signed with Brunswick and remained there until May 1934, when she re-signed with Columbia through July 1935. After a solitary Brunswick session in March 1936, she signed with the British label Rex and recorded two sessions in August and September, 1936. She returned to the US and signed with Decca in December 1936 and recorded until April 1937, when she basically retired from recording.

Personal life

Etting divorced Moe Snyder on November 30, 1937, aged 40. She fell in love with her pianist, Myrl Alderman, but in 1938 he was shot and injured by her ex-husband. Snyder was convicted of attempted murder, but released on appeal after one year in jail. Etting married Alderman, who was almost a decade her junior, in December 1938. The scandal of the sensational trial in Los Angeles effectively ended her career, though she briefly had a radio show in 1947. Alderman died on November 16, 1966.


Ruth Etting died in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1978, aged 80. She had no children.


Her life was the basis for the fictionalized 1955 film, Love Me or Leave Me, which starred Doris Day (as Etting) and James Cagney (as Snyder).


  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 — in which she introduced Irving Berlin‘s “Shaking The Blues Away”
  • Whoopee! (1928) — in which she introduced “Love Me or Leave Me
  • Nine-Fifteen Revue (1929) — in which she introduced “Get Happy
  • Simple Simon (1930) — in which she introduced “Ten Cents a Dance”
  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1931

Motion picture appearances

Short films

  • The Book of Lovers − 1929
  • Roseland − 1930
  • One Good Turn − 1930
  • Broadway’s Like That − 1930
  • Words & Music − 1931
  • Stage Struck − 1931
  • Radio Salutes − 1931
  • Old Lace − 1931
  • A Modern Cinderella − 1932
  • A Regular Trouper − 1932
  • A Mail Bride − 1932
  • Artistic Temper − 1932
  • Bye-Gones − 1933
  • Along Came Ruth − 1933
  • Crashing the Gate − 1933
  • California Weather − 1933
  • Knee Deep in Music − 1933
  • A Torch Tango − 1934
  • The Song of Fame − 1934
  • Derby Decade − 1934
  • Southern Style − 1934
  • Bandits and Ballads − 1934
  • An Old Spanish Onion − 1935
  • Ticket or Leave It − 1935
  • Tuned Out − 1935
  • Alladin from Manhattan − 1936
  • Melody in May − 1936
  • Sleepy Time − 1936

Feature films


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