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            Ruth Nelson


            Stage actress Ruth Nelson's biggest claim to fame was as one of the founding members of the famed New York-based "Group Theatre" back in the 30s and was well-received playing the cabbie's wife in Clifford Odets' short play "Waiting for Lefty" in 1935. This role would typify Ruth's career as the non-flashy, blue-collar or "working class" wife, loyal to the bone. She blended in so well with her rather submissive delivery that she went by totally unnoticed when she moved to film parts in the 40s. She gave a restrained realism in her roles in The North Star (1943), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Humoresque (1946), The Sea of Grass (1947) and Mother Wore Tights (1947), among others. Her second husband was director John Cromwell, who became a victim of Joseph McCarthy's "Red Scare" in the early 50s after being labeled a Communist. Ruth could have had a major career upswing with her important casting in the play "Death of a Salesman" but she felt compelled to turn it down when the role would have taken her to New York and away from her husband in Los Angeles who needed her support. She herself would be forced out of films for the next 30 years. Most of her work from the 50s on was on stage, notably a 1966 production of "The Skin of Our Teeth". It was director Robert Altman who finally induced her to return to films in 1977, featuring her in 3 Women (1977) and A Wedding (1978). Her last important movie role was as Robert De Niro's mom in Awakenings (1990). Suffering from cancer, she died in 1992.