Ruth Etting Biography

23 November 1896, David City, Nebraska, USA, d. 24 September 1978, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. This famous torch singer sang on radio and in Chicago nightclubs before making her Broadway debut in Ziegfeld Follies Of 1927 in which she made a tremendous impact with ‘Shaking The Blues Away’. In her next show, Whoopee! (1928), she introduced ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, which was subsequently always associated with her, and titled her 1955 film biography, which starred Doris Day. After launching two more future standards, ‘Get Happy’ (Nine-Fifteen Revue) and ‘Ten Cents A Dance’ (Simple Simon), her sparkling rendition of an old Nora Bayes number, ‘Shine On Harvest Moon’, in Ziegfeld Follies Of 1931, made the song a hit all over again. By then she was one of America’s brightest stars with her own radio shows and string of hit records. There were more than 60 of them between 1926 and 1937, including ‘Lonesome And Sorry’, ‘Thinking Of You’, ‘The Song Is Ended’, ‘Back In Your Own Back Yard’, ‘Ramona’, ‘I’ll Get By’, ‘Mean To Me’, ‘More Than You Know’, ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’, ‘Love Is Like That’, ‘I’m Good For Nothing But Love’, ‘Guilty’, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’, and ‘Life Is A Song’.

In the 30s she also made three popular movies, Roman Scandals, Hips, Hips, Hooray!, and Gift Of Gab, and in 1936 she appeared on the London stage in Transatlantic Rhythm. A year later she split from her husband and manager, Martin (‘Moe The Gimp’) Snyder, a Chicago ‘hood’ who had guided her career from the start. James Cagney played Snyder in the biopic Love Me Or Leave Me, and the story of his domination of Etting’s life and his revenge wounding of her second husband - plus a great bunch of songs - made for an absorbing movie. After Ruth Etting’s career faded towards the end of the 30s, she entertained at intervals during World War II and enjoyed a brief comeback in the late 40s, when club patrons and radio listeners were reminded that she was one of the outstanding vocalists of her era.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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