This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Hollywood legend Ruta Lee, who has written her memoir, “Consider Your Ass Kissed” (released through Briton Publishing). In this 30-minute episode of Talk About Las Vegas, Lee talks about her first movie job (which she says she got either due to polka or her mother’s prayers; bringing her grandmother to America from the Soviet Union (and the lesson she learned about not being afraid to try the wildest thing in the world to achieve what you need; her strong work ethic; why she always likes keeping the flame of glamour burning in Hollywood; whether Hollywood is real or not; the four people who impressed her the most in Hollywood (Frank Sinatra; Phyllis Diller; Charles Laughton, and Clint Eastwood; why humor has disappeared in America; and why she had a long and successful marriage (46 years) in Hollywood.
Lee, one of Hollywood’s most glamorous ladies, is also one of its most multifaceted and top-notched civic contributors. Born in Montreal, she is the daughter of a Lithuanian tailor. While at Hollywood High, Lee’s career in show business began at the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as an usherette, then candy girl. She was quickly promoted to box office cashier and just as quickly fired.
Her dancing was better than her math. She vowed to return to that famous courtyard (years later, talent and serendipity placed her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, directly in front of that box office from which she was fired). Soon after, she was signed by MGM as the youngest of the “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and subsequently in “Funny Face” with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, as Tyrone Power’s secret love in “Witness for the Prosecution,” and Frank Sinatra’s leading lady in “Sergeant’s Three,” to name but a few of the many films in her credits.