Barbara Ruick
Ruick c. 1950s
Born(1930-12-23)December 23, 1930
DiedMarch 3, 1974(1974-03-03) (aged 43)
OccupationActress, singer
Frank Howren
(m. 1949; a. 1949)
(m. 1953; div. 1956)
(m. 1956)
Children3, including Joseph Williams
Parent(s)Melville Ruick
Lurene Tuttle

Barbara Ruick (December 23, 1930 – March 3, 1974),[1][2] also known as Barbara Ruick Williams, was an American actress and singer.

Early years

Ruick was the daughter of actors Lurene Tuttle and Melville Ruick,[3] and grew up acting out scenes with dolls, employing her mother as an audience.

Ruick attended North Hollywood High School.[4] She did little acting in high school but joined a school band at the age of 14. Ruick sang with the band at dances and benefits.


L-R: Ruick with Bob Fosse, Debbie Reynolds and Bobby Van in The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953)

Early in her career, Ruick sang in clubs[5] and acted in Little Theater productions.[3] She achieved success in radio prior to signing as a contract player with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[6] She was heard in the original radio version of Dragnet. She also recorded several songs for MGM Records. In the 1950s, Ruick starred as Kay in the first LP recording of the songs from George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin's 1926 Broadway musical, Oh, Kay!. This was a studio cast recording released by Columbia Records, and conducted by Lehman Engel.

She landed a job on Hollywood Screen Test, a talent show which aired on ABC Television from 1948-1953. Ruick appeared on the Kraft Television Theater, soap operas, and The College Bowl (1950), which was hosted by Chico Marx.[7] She also performed for fifteen weeks on The Jerry Colonna Show.[7]: 531  In 1955 she was a regular on The Johnny Carson Show.[7]: 540 

She made guest appearances on The Millionaire (1957), Public Defender (1954), Brothers Brannigan (1960), The 20th Century Fox Hour (1956), and Climax Mystery Theater (1955).

In 1951, Ruick was signed by MGM for a role in the film Invitation (1952).[8] She had bit parts in her first four films, one of them being The Band Wagon (1953), and then graduated to supporting roles. Her best remembered roles both came from Rodgers and Hammerstein. She played Carrie Pipperidge in the film version of Carousel (1956) and Esmerelda, one of the wicked stepsisters, in the 1965 TV version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Notable work


Ruick married actor Robert Horton in Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 22, 1953.[9] She had co-starred with Horton in the movie Apache War Smoke the previous year. The couple separated just prior to their second wedding anniversary in 1955 and divorced in 1956,[10] just after he accompanied her to the world premiere of Carousel. She was subsequently married to composer John Williams, who composed the music for Star Wars, amongst other films, from 1956 until her death. During her marriage to Williams, Ruick appeared in few motion pictures. They had three children together, one of whom, Joseph Williams, is lead singer in the rock band Toto.[citation needed]


Ruick died in Reno, Nevada while playing a small role on location in Robert Altman's California Split. She was found dead the afternoon of March 4, 1974 in her hotel room, where her body had been lying for 10 to 12 hours. She had complained of nausea and headache the previous night.[2] The coroner found that her death was caused by a ruptured berry aneurysm and intracerebral hemorrhage.[11] She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.


Year Title Role Notes
1921 The Star of Bethlehem Narrator (reissue version)
1952 Invitation Sarah
1952 Scaramouche Amoureause Uncredited
1952 You for Me Ann Elcott
1952 Fearless Fagan Second Nurse
1952 Apache War Smoke Nancy Dekker
1952 Above and Beyond Mary Malone
1953 Confidentially Connie Barbara
1953 I Love Melvin Studio Guide
1953 The Band Wagon Passenger on Train Uncredited
1953 The Affairs of Dobie Gillis Lorna Ellingboe
1956 Carousel Carrie Pipperidge
1974 California Split Reno Barmaid (final film role and posthumous release)


  1. ^ U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015
  2. ^ a b "Actress in Reno film found dead". Reno Gazette-Journal. Reno, Nevada. March 4, 1974. p. 2. Retrieved July 13, 2020 – via
  3. ^ a b Danson, Tom E. (May 23, 1951). "TV-Radiologic: Radio-TV Actress Follows, Now In Mama's Footsteps". Wilmington Daily Press Journal. California, Wilmington. p. 4. Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via open access
  4. ^ "Bill of Rights Skit Given by Compton Group". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. December 14, 1949. p. 33. Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via open access
  5. ^ "Optimist Dri-Nite Club Bringing 'Surprise Package' To Teen-Agers". The Van Nuys News. California, Van Nuys. August 4, 1949. p. 8. Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via open access
  6. ^ Films & Filming, vol.24, 1977, p.32.
  7. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  8. ^ Hopper, Hedda (September 6, 1951). "Ma and Pa Kettle to Tangle With Spy Ring". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. 62. Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via open access
  9. ^ "Actress Barbara Ruick Files Suit for Divorce". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. August 11, 1955. p. 4. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via open access
  10. ^ "Actress Wins a Divorce". The Kansas City Times. Missouri, Kansas City. Associated Press. April 28, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via open access
  11. ^ "Actress' Death Ruled Natural". Reno Gazette-Journal. Reno, Nevada. March 5, 1974. p. 11. Retrieved July 13, 2020 – via