Actress Ruth Hunt Newman passed away April 24 at the age of 87 after complications from severe intestinal obstruction. Under her professional name, Ruth Hunt, she studied at Yale School of Drama, then earned an MFA from Stanford University.
Leading roles at the 1969 California Shakespeare Festival in Los Gatos, led to tours in Judith Anderson’s Hamlet, Jesus Christ Superstar, and on Broadway, the role of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon in Crown Matrimonial, garnering kudos from such critics as Walter Kerr of the NY Times, who wrote:
“Ruth Hunt…refuses to couch her protest in the standoffish formalities that pass for tone… The actress’ deceptively soft face, submissive bangs feathering her forehead, swiftly belies its repose. She permits herself passion... flares into a fierce denunciation... that is finally and intensely personal…The heat in Miss Hunt’s striking performance, at last persuades us that one of these figureheads has a home, and lives in it.”
She appeared in Rex Harrison’s Emperor Henry IV, and Deborah Kerr’s Last of Mrs. Cheyney, numerous daytime TV dramas, and with her husband, Stephen D. Newman, as principal players in the British American Repertory Company, performing Stoppard's Dirty Linen and Macbeth, in England and the US. Later, Ruth continued various TV and film appearances, including “Ghost Story” with Fred Astaire and John Houseman.
née Saxton) started life as an adoptee, born in Kansas City, MO, reared in Kansas. Not self-made, but rather self-determined, her expressive refinement, even in those rural settings, flourished readily. At Crawford Community High in Cherokee, her participation in school plays, various choirs, marching band playing clarinet, editing the Yearbook, as an accomplished pianist and regular organist at her local Baptist church, resulted in her being aptly declared “All Around Girl.”
At Pittsburg State Teachers College, she earned her BSE majoring in English Lit and Psych, met her first husband, Marine jet pilot, William England. She moved with him, to Florida (where she taught), then to New Haven (where she taught), as he studied at Yale Divinity to become a Pastor. They parted ways, and Ruth, again unmarried, started acting in nearby New England theaters which eventually led to Yale Drama School where she met her second husband, tech manager, Derek Hunt. With him she traveled to the San Francisco Bay area, playing leading roles in Palo Alto and the City, and completing her MFA at Stanford. Shortly after her 10-year marriage Mr. Hunt ended, Ruth joined Mr. Newman in a 53-year adventure as performers, spouses, and resolute New Yorkers, which came to a halt, only with the sudden affliction that took her this week.
Hunt's life was filled with astute good humor, a keen interest in quiet excellence in performance, in knowledge, in fine cooking, and in melding uncluttered purity of design with discerning warmth and depth of spirit in all the homes she created. Along with Mr. Newman, she is survived by steadfast and loving friends, who, in lieu of flowers, urge donation to either the International Rescue Committee or Salvation Army in remembrance of her constant artistry.