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Ruby Keeler

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ken123
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Ruby Keeler

Postby ken123 » April 14th, 2007, 9:32 pm

Aside from being Jolson's wife, did this Irish miss have any reason to be in films. Marion Davies, W.R. Hearst's mistress, at least had talent. Miss Keeler had no talent, charm, or looks IMHO :roll:

feaito

Postby feaito » April 15th, 2007, 12:44 am

Maybe she wasn't that talented but she had a certain kind of cute charisma to her and I bet many girls of the Depression felt close and identified with her.

I do not like her particularly, but she was nice in those 1930s Warners with Joan, Aline, Dick et al.

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"Give that youngster a chance!"-Julian Marsh (c. '

Postby moira finnie » April 16th, 2007, 4:15 pm

I like Ruby Keeler, think she's plucky, lucky in her choice of a well-connected hubby, and darned cute. She's no Eleanor Powell, but I don't think she "dances like a cow", as I read once on that "other place", and I'm very fond of her performance opposite her then-husband Al Jolson in Go Into Your Dance (1935), which features niftily staged numbers centered around "About a Quarter to Nine," & "She's a Latin from Manhattan". And for once, darling Ruby Keeler did not play the naïf brushing the hayseed out of her bob!

While I often find Jolson to be highly resistable, in this film, as in the great pre-code musical Wonder Bar, he won me over with his relentless ability to put over a song. The splendidly designed Art Deco interiors, funny and even romantic Harry Warren songs (not a term I usually associate with Warren's music or Jolson) made me want to see Go Into Your Dance again soon, after catching it around 2am in January on TCM.

I'd be sure you check this one out before dismissing the entire oeuvre of Miss Keeler. Besides, who could've pitched all those unpalatable double entendres in Busby Berkeley's movies more wholesomely than Ruby?

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » April 16th, 2007, 7:55 pm

Well, Moira, I like Keeler, too, but I have to cast my vote in the "cow" column. I think that she was, compared to the other cinema hoofers, singularly ungraceful. However, she had a very nice screen presence, and was attractive to look at. She radiated a pleasant image, but I don't think she would have gotten as far as she did if she weren't married to what's his name.

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Postby SSO Admins » April 16th, 2007, 8:00 pm

jdb1 wrote:However, she had a very nice screen presence, and was attractive to look at. She radiated a pleasant image, but I don't think she would have gotten as far as she did if she weren't married to what's his name.


I love Ruby. Her lack of real talent was part of her charm. I'm with moira here -- it's difficult to imagine those Busby musicals without her. No, she couldn't sing or dance, but she had enough charisma that I can't help but love her anyway.

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Postby mongoII » May 4th, 2007, 9:28 pm

Ruby Keeler was a delight. The Irish cutie had charm and charisma was the key. I just loved her voice.

Ruby Keeler was among the first tap dancing stars of motion pictures. She was an Irish Step Dancer. Irish Step Dancing is where all tap dancing originated. Both the shoes and the style were different from regular tap dance. Instead of metal taps, the soles were wooden, and hard. Buck dancers stayed in relatively the same place on stage, and their concern was the rhythm coming from their feet, rather than how they looked on stage. They stayed on the balls of their feet most of time, which meant that their torsos moved very little, and the movements were isolated to below the waist. Because of this style of movement, the early Buck dancers often appeared less graceful in comparison with later tap dancers.
Hence the 'cow' myth.
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Ruby Keeler

Postby melwalton » October 3rd, 2007, 7:03 pm

I agree Keeler wasn't an actress at all nor a singer altho' lot and lots of 'Singers' were worse but she was beautiful and built and like most experienced chorus girls she could tap dance. Too she had that innocent, vulnerable look about her, When 42nd st, was first released half the people I knew (the male half) had a crush on her. I thought she fit in well with Powell as long as he did the singing

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Re: "Give that youngster a chance!"-Julian Marsh (

Postby Bob Birchard » November 16th, 2007, 4:20 am

moirafinnie wrote:I like Ruby Keeler, think she's plucky, lucky in her choice of a well-connected hubby, and darned cute. She's no Eleanor Powell, but I don't think she "dances like a cow", as I read once on that "other place", and I'm very fond of her performance opposite her then-husband Al Jolson in Go Into Your Dance (1935), which features niftily staged numbers centered around "About a Quarter to Nine," & "She's a Latin from Manhattan". And for once, darling Ruby Keeler did not play the naïf brushing the hayseed out of her bob!

While I often find Jolson to be highly resistable, in this film, as in the great pre-code musical Wonder Bar, he won me over with his relentless ability to put over a song. The splendidly designed Art Deco interiors, funny and even romantic Harry Warren songs (not a term I usually associate with Warren's music or Jolson) made me want to see Go Into Your Dance again soon, after catching it around 2am in January on TCM.

I'd be sure you check this one out before dismissing the entire oeuvre of Miss Keeler. Besides, who could've pitched all those unpalatable double entendres in Busby Berkeley's movies more wholesomely than Ruby?


Ruby Keeler's dancing has come in for a lot of misplaced criticism over the years. It is not fair to compare her to an Eleanor Powell or Ann Miller--they were tap dancers. Ruby Keeler was never a tap dancer, and never wore tap shoes until she appeared in "No, No, Nanette" on Broadway in 1973. Ruby was a clog dancer, and had to pound her feet to make noise because there were no taps on her shoes. She appeared in for Broadway shows before she married Jolson, so it wasn't only being "Mrs. World's Greatest Entertainer" that made her a star.

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Postby traceyk » December 16th, 2007, 7:29 pm

I've heard the buck dancing or clog dancing thing before, and I've been told that her "innocence" and lack of any apparent acting ability was part of her charm, but I still have to agree withn ken123--I do not understand her appeal. Everytime she came on screen in "42nd Street" I just wanted her to go away and let us see more Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers.
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. "~~Wilde

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Postby charliechaplinfan » January 18th, 2008, 5:14 pm

I can see both sides. Her dancing in 42nd Street does look awkward and she is so not 'Shanghai Lil' in Footlight Parade yet she was more than Jolson's wife. She did have the cutsy little girl next door to her. She wasn't streetwise like Ginger Rogers and Una Merkel. Somehow though her character works in these films.

My only introduction for years to her was the 'Julie Benson' character in the Jolson biopics. When I saw her on film she was not anything like I expected.

BTW where is 'the other place'

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Ruby Keeler

Postby EleanorPowellFan » January 18th, 2008, 6:05 pm

Like someone wrote, without Ruby Keeler Busby Berkeley's films certainly would not be what they are. Her charm just made everything light up.

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Postby rainingviolets21 » February 2nd, 2008, 11:52 pm

Ruby Keeler had a wonderful, innocent quality very rare in film, and I think doing the movies she did for that era were done at the right time.
she had a perfect 1930's personality, and that is why she clicked in films...

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Postby myrnaloyisdope » July 5th, 2008, 11:24 pm

I like the forcefulness of her tapdancing as it makes her stand out from the rest. She also projects a wonderfully doe-eyed "who me?" quality in everything she does.

I think these factors make her fun to watch in everything I've seen her in.

But at the same time I have doubts about her range and ability.

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Ruby Keeler

Postby EleanorPowellFan » July 6th, 2008, 12:02 am

Your right about that :P

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Postby stuart.uk » July 6th, 2008, 1:50 am

I can understand why Ruby Keeler refused to have her name used in The Jolson Story with Evelyn Keyes using the name of Julie Benson.

There may have been other reasons, but two possible ones come to mind. The scene where Julie froze on stage, but was saved by Jolson, who was sitting in audience, who got to his feet and sang Liza. According to Ruby Jolie only got to his feet because he couldn't bear to be left out, he had to grab some of the attention. I'm not going to dare to say Ruby was more talented than Al, she wasn't. However, IMO she made better movies than him, so quite possibly in the 30s was a bigger star than he. In the night club scene Julie walks out because Al can't resist singing again after being invited on to the stage to perform. What could have upset Ruby more was the fact the announcer introduced him, but not her. That would have been in 1939 and I think she was at least his equal in fame, if not talented bracket


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