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Ruby Keeler , (August 25, 1909 – February 28, 1993), was an actress, singer and dancer famous primarily for partnering on screen with Dick Powell in a series of successful musicals of Warner Bros.
Her real name was Ethel Hilda Keeler , and she was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (Canada). He had Irish ancestry. Two of his sisters were the actresses Helen and Gertrude Keeler.
Her father was a truck driver, and when she was three years old, her family moved to New York in order to get a better economic situation, however, having six children the situation did not improve much, so, although Keeler was interested in learning dance, her family could not afford the classes.
Keeler studied at St. Catherine of Siena Parish School on the East Side of New York, and once a week she received dance classes at the center. Her teacher saw Keeler’s potential and spoke with her mother to get permission for Ruby to take lessons in her study. Although the mother refused, claiming lack of money, the teacher insisted and managed to give him a weekly lesson, every Saturday.
During the classes, a classmate told her about some tests to be part of a female choir. Ruby was only thirteen years old, and the law required sixteen to work, but hid her age in the test. It was a tap test, directed by Julian Mitchell (Ruby Keeler was one of the first tap stars in the cinema, with a style based on typical Irish dancing). After several vicissitudes, he managed to work on the work The Rise of Rosie O’Reilly (1923), by George M. Cohan, with which he had a profit of $ 45 per week.
She was only 14 years old when she started working at the Texas-owned El Fay club Guinan, a tavern frequented by gangsters, and was discovered by Broadway producer Charles B. Dillingham, who gave her a role in Bye Bye Bonnie, work that was represented for six months. Later he worked at Lucky and The Sidewalks of New York, also produced by Dillingham. In the last work was observed by Florenz Ziegfeld, who made her act in the musical comedy Whoopee !, in 1928. Before that she married the famous singer Al Jolson. They had met in Los Angeles, where she was participating in the advertising campaign of The Jazz Singer. Their meeting was brief, but Jolson fell in love. After a brief courtship they married in Pittsburgh on September 21, 1928, while she was on tour representing Whoopee! There was a big difference in age, she was 19 years old and he was 42, and marriage was difficult. They moved to California, whereupon she moved away from the first plane. In 1929, urged by Ziegfeld, Jolson agreed to let her travel to New York to work on the musical Show Girl.
In 1933, producer Darryl F. Zanuck chose Keeler for the Warner Bros. musical film 42nd Street (42nd Street), in which he starred opposite Dick Powell and Bebe Daniels. The film was a great success thanks to the innovative and luxurious choreography of Busby Berkeley. As a result of his performance on 42nd Street, Jack Warner gave Keeler a contract, with which he could work on hits such as Gold Diggers of 1933 (Vampiresas 1933) and Dames (Music and Women) (1934).
After various marital problems, Keeler and Jolson divorced in 1940. Keeler remarried in 1941, with John Homer Lowe. She was not interested in being a movie star, so, happy with her second marriage, Keeler left the world of entertainment in 1941, and devoted herself to the upbringing of her five children. Lowe died of cancer in 1969. In 1971, Keeler left his retirement to shine in the revival of the Broadway hit No, No, Nanette, along with Helen Gallagher and Patsy Kelly. The production was directed by the director of 42nd Street, Busby Berkeley. The great popularity of the work was a renewed interest in the twenties and thirties – particularly the art deco, tap and songs of the Depression era.
Ruby Keeler died of cancer in Rancho Mirage, California, and was buried at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange, California. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6730 Hollywood Blvd.
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