Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Serial vixen Ruth Royce
Ever since I saw her in the feature version of the 1924 serial CALIFORNIA IN '49, I have been keenly interested in silent screen femme fatale Ruth Royce. Ruth hailed from Versailles, MO (pronounced Versayles according to my Missouri born husband, Theo) and was educated at Kansas City, MO. She performed with various stock companies, e.g. Woodward Stock and Lewis Stock, before heading for Hollywood and the screen in around 1919. In addition to '49, Ruth may also be seen today in the serials THE POWER GOD (1925) and OFFICER 444 (1926). As I'm getting increasingly lazy in my dotage, I shall refer you to my Royce essay on the All Movie Guide website:
A dark-haired, slightly Eurasian-looking American screen actress, Ruth Royce was arguably the best serial and western villainess of the silent era, eclipsing, in sheer wickedness, that earlier prairie vamp, Louise Glaum. Royce modelled her sagebrush vixens more after Harry Woods than Theda Bara, it seems, rarely lusting after the hero's body but what he could do for her wealth or power. Unfortunately, neither Royce's own career nor female serial dominance in general survived the changeover to sound, and the screen would have to wait until the 1940s, and the likes of Lorna Grey and Carol Forman, to resurrect the action-packed femme fatale.
Ruth Royce retired before sound and died in total obscurity age 78 in 1971 in Los Angeles.
Even more obscure today than Ruth is another Western femme fatale, Gene Crosby. Gene may be seen today in a couple of very cheap oaters featuring the equally obscure William Mix, aka Dick Carter. Who, I suspect, may have been Ms. Crosby's husband. If anyone, anyone at all, have any information regarding this slightly hawk-nosed actress please send me a hint.