Ruth Taylor: Buck Henry’s Movie Star Mother

Her son Buck Henry having just passed away, and her birthday falling today, it would seem to be the perfect moment to bestow some attention on Ruth Taylor (1908-1984).

Raised in Oregon, Taylor came down to Hollywood at age 17, where her striking looks immediately got her a job as a Mack Sennett Bathing Girl. Of Taylor’s 42 credits between 1925 and 1930, the vast majority of them are in Mack Sennett comedy shorts, beginning with The Iron Nag (1925) opposite Billy Bevan and Andy Clyde. Others Sennett stars she appeared with included Harry Langdon, Raymond McKee, Ralph Graves, Alice Day, Madeline Hurlock, Kewpie Morgan, Eddie Quillan, Ben Turpin, Vernon Dent, Barney Hellum, and Danny O’Shea.

1928 proved to be Taylor’s big career year. She was selected — out of thousands — to play Lorelei Lee in the original Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opposite Alice White and Ford Sterling, directed by Mal St. Clair. And she was named one of that year’s WAMPAS Baby Stars.

After this auspicious turn, Taylor only appeared in a few subsequent films however: the feature Just Married (1928) with Harrison Ford; the Christie short A Hint to Brides (1929, her first sound picture) with Johnny Arthur; the Columbia feature The College Coquette (1929) with William Collier Jr and Jobyna Ralston; This Thing Called Love (1929) with Edmund Lowe; and Scrappily Married (1930), another Christie short with Johnny Arthur. What a note to go out on!

In March 1930 Taylor married stockbroker and former air force general Paul Zuckerman. Their son, “Buck” Henry Zuckerman was born nine months later.

 For more on classic and silent film comedy please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.