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Ruby Jean Dandridge (née Butler; March 3, 1900 – October 17, 1987) was an American actress from the early 1900s through to the late 1950s. Dandridge is best known for her radio work in her early days of acting. Dandridge is best known for her role on the radio show Amos 'n Andy, in which she played Sadie Blake and Harriet Crawford, and on radio's Judy Canova Show, in which she played "Geranium". She is recognized for her role in the 1959 movie A Hole in the Head as "Sally".
Born Ruby Jean Butler in Wichita, Kansas on March 3, 1900, she was one of four children. Dandridge's parents were Nellie Simon, a maid and George Butler, a Gentleman who was a janitor, grocer and entertainer. Dandridge's father was also "a famous minstrel man."
In 1937, Dandridge played one of the witches in what an article in The Pittsburgh Courier called a "sepia representation" of Macbeth in Los Angeles. California. The production began on July 8 at the Mayan Theater. Five years later, she appeared in a production of Hit the Deck at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, California. One of Dandridge's earliest appearances (uncredited, as were many of the minor roles she played) was as a native dancer in King Kong (1933). In other films, she played Dabby in Tap Roots (1948), the housekeeper in Three Little Girls in Blue (1946), Mrs. Kelso in Cabin in the Sky (1943) and Violet in Tish (1942).
Dandridge played Oriole on both radio and TV versions of The Beulah Show, and Geranium in The Judy Canova Show,:182 and was a regular cast member on Tonight at Hoagy's.:337 For one season (1961-1962), Dandridge played the maid on the television version of Father Knows Best.
In 1955, Dandridge and her business partner, Dorothy Foster, bought land in Twentynine Palms, California, with plans to construct a subdivision of 250 homes. Also in the 1950s, Dandridge formed a nightclub act that played in clubs around Los Angeles. A review of her act cited her "flashes of effervescent showmanship" and said: "What Ruby lacks in her voice, she invariably makes up for it with her winsome personality."
On September 30, 1919, she married Cyril Dandridge. Dandridge moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, where her daughter, actress Vivian Dandridge (1921–1991) was born. A second daughter, Academy Award-nominated actress Dorothy Dandridge, was born there in 1922, five months after Ruby and Cyril divorced. It is noted that after her divorce, Ruby Dandridge became involved with her companion, Geneva Williams, who reportedly overworked the children and punished them harshly. Dandridge attended her daughter Dorothy Dandridge's funeral in 1965. On October 17, 1987, she died of a heart attack at a nursing home in Los Angeles, California. She was interred next to Dorothy at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. In the 1999 film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby is portrayed by Loretta Devine.
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