A Tribute to Ruth Clifford
Even though her career lasted from the silent screen into the television era, Ruth Clifford is largely forgotten today. Born on February 17, 1900, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Ruth Clifford was the daughter of English parents.
After she had appeared as an extra in two 1914 Edison films, Ruth was introduced to films at Universal in 1916 by an aunt, actress Catherine Wallace. Ruth’s first credited role was in “Behind the Lines” (1916). Ruth remained under contract to Universal through 1919. The director with whom Ruth was most associated at Universal was Rupert Julian, a New Zealander. Aside from Rupert Julian, Ruth was associated at Universal with actor Monroe Salisbury, her leading man in six films between 1917 and 1919. What Ruth remembered the most about him is the shock at their first love scene when she discovered that he was old, but also that he was wearing a toupee.
After leaving Universal, Ruth worked independently appearing in twenty-five feature films of the 1920’s. Her favorite was the Al and Ray Rockett production of Abraham Lincoln (1924). Unfortunately, only a portion of the film survives. The best of Ruth’s surviving silent features is Butterfly (1924), which co-starred Laura La Plante and was directed by Clarence Brown.
Ruth married a prominent real estate developer, James Cornelius in 1924, but the couple separated in 1934. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Ruth was more interested in bringing up her son James, Jr. than starring in films
Aside from John Ford productions, Ruth could be seen on television in episodes of “Highway Patrol” and also in many television commercials. She was also, for a time, the voice of Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse. Into her nineties, Ruth was taking cruises to Hawaii and Alaska. Ruth died in the Motion Picture Country House on November 30, 1998. She was ninety-eight years old.