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She was born Ruth Wilcox, the sister of director Fred McLeod Wilcox, who directed "Lassie, Come Home" (1943) and "Forbidden Planet" (1956), and former showgirl Pansy Wilcox, who was married to Loew`s Inc. President Nicholas M. Schenck, one of the pioneers of the film industry. Ruth and her siblings were the children of James Wilcox, a Kentucky optometrist and drugstore owner, who was married six times, twice to one woman. His six children were from his first wife.
Ruth married former playwright and movie producer-director-writer Edgar Selwyn, for whom she appeared in his "Men Must Fight" (1933). A contract player at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she made her first two movie appearances in Marion Davies pictures, "Five and Ten" (1931), her uncredited debut, and "Polly of the Circus" (1932), for which she received her first credit. Her most memorable role was as Pansy Peets in "Speak Easily" (1933), in which she supported Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante and received third-billing.
She made only two more movies after appearing in "Men Must Fight," retiring after Raoul Walsh`s "Baby Face Harrington" (1935), which was produced by her husband.
Ruth and Edgar Selwyn eventually divorced. They had one son, Rusty, who was born during Ruth`s previous marriage to a man surnamed Synder, and who was adopted by Edgar during their marriage.
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