TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS: THE LIFE AND CAREER OF RUBY KEELER (HARDCOVER EDITION) by Ed Harbur

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978-1-62933-109-6

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Come and meet those dancing feet! The lyrics from “42nd Street” still evoke fantastic memories of Busby Berkeley and actress, dancer, and singer Ruby Keeler, who is best-known for starring with Dick Powell in musicals produced at Warner Bros., notably 42nd Street (1933), Golddiggers of 1933 (1933), Footlight Parade (1933), Flirtation Walk (1934), and Go Into Your Dance (1935).  

 

Ruby’s life and career was no tap dance. Underage at fourteen, she first danced where the underworld meet the elite in New York speakeasies during the Prohibition Era. Plucked from obscurity and thrust onto Broadway in musicals, she captured the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld, and she soon appeared in his Whoopee! with Eddie Cantor and Show Girl (1929) with Jimmy Durante.  

 

Topsy turvy Hollywood converted to talking pictures that were first popularized by Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927). Jolson met Ruby, and their eleven-year turbulent marriage swept the two of them into widely publicized movie successes, yet their acclaim stood on shaky ground.  

 

In this first-ever book by actor and singer Ed Harbur, discover Ruby’s childhood, her early career, her idyllic second marriage, and her phenomenal return to Broadway after twenty-seven years to star in No, No, Nanette. Tragedy followed the triumph, when Ruby suffered a life-threatening stroke, yet she emerged to enjoy a long and successful recovery and served as a champion advocate for stroke victims. 

 

The four-part book spans sections devoted to Biography, Film Appearances, Stage Appearances, and TV and Short Subject Appearances. Illustrated with hundreds of never before seen photographs, including stage and screen productions and candid shots of Ruby at work and in private life. Index. Bibliography.


"Too Marvelous for Words: The Life and Career of Ruby Keeler by Ed Harbur serves as a valentine to one of the most beloved stars of the stage and screen. Known to film buffs as the wife of the great Al Jolson, I was pleased to see Ruby receiving her due considering she is often overshadowed by Jolson's larger-than-life career. She sacrificed her principals and refused to follow the dictum of Hollywood, and documents the details behind her recovery from a severe brain aneurysm. The first 128 pages focuses on her biography, loaded with archival photographs, followed by extensive documentary on each of her motion-pictures. If Keeler was nervous behind the camera, Harbur found evidence and documented it. This is the kind of book you pull off the shelf when Turner Classic Movies screens Ruby Keeler movies, so you can read the behind-the-scenes making-of before the movie begins."
- Martin Grams Jr.


Book review by James Neibaur


From the New York Post: How a Forgotten Film Star Became a Broadway Hit at 61

 

 

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