94 (passed away Apr. 20th, 2003)
Oct. 14th, 1908
Granger, Utah, USA
Ruth Hale's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2003 - The R.M.
2002 - The Singles Ward
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Ruth Hale thought of herself as predominantly a writer, and she wrote over 70 plays, but she was better known as an actress and theatre owner. Starting with her husband Nathan, she and her family founded community theatres in California, Utah, and Arizona. Her children and grandchildren continue in the family legacy to this day.
After studying at the University of Utah for two years, Ruth taught school until she was 19 years old and then left for a religious mission in the eastern United States for the LDS (Mormon) Church. Upon her return to Utah, she met and married Nathan Hale (I) , and they were asked to be drama leaders in their ward (Mormon congregation). They began writing their own plays to avoid paying royalties and for 8 years they toured around the Salt Lake Valley appearing in their plays. But Nathan was not happy with his job at Utah Copper, so Ruth suggested that he might be able to break into movies due to a shortage of leading men in Hollywood due to WW II. Moving to southern California in 1943, Nathan took a job as a milkman so his days and evenings would be available for acting work. He appeared with the Altadena Players at the Pasadena Playhouse and Ruth continued writing plays, selling some at $100 a piece. The Hales did participate in the production of two films in 1946 about the Mormon welfare program, with a team assembled by Judge Whitaker. This was the real start of film production within the Mormon Church.
With other film work not materializing, they opened the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale, Ca. in 1947 with 125 seats. They soon moved and expanded due to success due in part to staging plays free of profanity and illicit love affairs. This led to bookings of entire performances by church groups of various denominations. The Hale's children found themselves cast in productions and also finding that furniture in their house changed rather routinely as it was required on stage. Ruth drew from her personal experiences in writing, and "Lilacs in the Rain" was based on a young man that had wanted to marry Ruth before she left on her mission. "Thank You Papa" was about life with Ruth's feisty English father. Several actors would get their start at the Hale's theater including Gordon Jump, Mike Farrell (I), Connie Stevens, Richard Hatch (I), and Melissa Gilbert (I).
As they had done with plays, the Hales initiated their own film work and produced three Mormon-themed films from 1955 to 1957 assisted by their nephew William Hale, and many members of the Glendale West Ward. The first, "Choice Land" was a 20 minute film about America, with many Book of Mormon scenes including Lehi leaving Jerusalem (shot in the desert) and Jaredites. The earthquake levelling Zarahemla at the time of Christ's crucifixion was shot using a model of the city on a ping pong table. The Pilgrims were shot wading knee deep in snow at Mr. Wilson. "Oliver Cowdery" was filmed for $2,500 with a ten minute court scene rehearsed and shot in one evening. A third film was entitled "Is Fast Day a Headache ?" They and their six children would all later appear in one or more films produced for use by The Mormon Church. Ruth wrote the story for the controversial 'Til Death Do Us Part (1960) in which daughter Sherry played a young woman contemplating an inter-faith marriage. In 1983 the Hales retired to Utah, leaving their daughter Sandra and her husband running the theater. Soon bored, they decided to open the Salt Lake Hale Center Theater with other family members. Hale Center theaters were subsequently opened elsewhere. Starting the year Nathan died, Ruth added some appearances in TV movies and theatrical films to her stage performances. She continued to act in her 90s, even appearing in a wheelchair after a major stroke in February, 2001. She appears in a cameo in The Singles Ward (2002), the directorial debut of grandson Kurt Hale. Another grandson Will Swenson has also entered the ranks of directors in LDS Cinema with Sons of Provo (2004).
- Served an LDS mission to the Eastern United States.
- Served another LDS mission with her husband at age 75 in Nauvoo, Illinois.
- During World War II, she and husband moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting and movies.
- Grandmother of director 'Kurt Hale' (qv)
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